Thursday, January 08, 2009

Our Lady of Help-in-a-Hurry

If you ask a New Orleanian what day today is, you'll probably hear something along the lines of, "It's the feast of Our Lady of Prompt Succor." I don't believe it appears on the official liturgical calendar, but everyone from Mr. Hebert (pronounced, of course, "A Bear") at the poorboy place to the Archbishop calls January 8 our Lady's "feastday" in New Orleans.
Actually, it's the anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans. But that victory over the British (the last battle of the War of 1812, fought when a peace treaty had already been signed in those days before technological communications) and the sparing of the city of New Orleans were attributed to the prayers of the people gathered with the Ursuline Sisters to Our Lady of Prompt Succor. Under that title, Mary became the patroness of New Orleans.
January 8 used to be a state holiday in Louisiana; now it's only the popular devotion to Our Lady of Prompt Succor that keeps alive the memory of the date's significance.
Attending Ursuline Academy, which houses the Shrine and statue of Our Lady, we learned the invocation to Mary as part of our school prayers. And so it is fitting to pray today, as I was taught so long ago,
"Our Lady of Prompt Succor, hasten to help us!"

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