Prayer to Our Lady of Prompt Succor
O Mary, Mother of God, who amid the tribulations of the world, watch over us and over the Church of your Son, be to us and to the Church, truly Our Lady of Prompt Succor. Make haste to help us all in our necessities, that in this fleeting life you may be our succor, and obtain for us (here ask the particular favor you desire). As you once saved our beloved city from ravaging flames and our country from an invading army, have pity on us and obtain for us protection from hurricanes and all other disasters. Be to us truly Our Lady of Prompt Succor now and especially at the hour of our death. Our Lady of Prompt Succor, Hasten to Help Us.
A tradition dating to the Jan. 8, 1815 Battle of New Orleans will be held for the 103rd time when the annual Mass is celebrated on the solemnity of Our Lady of Prompt Succor – Jan. 8 at 4 p.m. – at the National Votive Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, 2701 State St., New Orleans.
The celebration honors Our Lady of Prompt Succor to whom the Ursuline nuns prayed for intercession to help the ragtag American army stop the British from overtaking New Orleans.
Archbishop Gregory Aymond will be the main celebrant, and New Orleans native Franciscan Father Albert Haase will be the homilist, speaking on “Our Lady of Prompt Succor: A China Connection.” A reception will follow.
In conjunction with the feast, the shrine will have a three-day “Triduum of Spiritual Preparation” three days prior to the thanksgiving Mass.
Father Haase, who calls himself the “itinerant preacher of parish missions” and retreats for lay and religious, will be the celebrant and homilist each day. On Jan. 5 at the 5 p.m. Mass, Father Haase’s homily will be on “The Mindfulness of Mary”; on Jan. 6 at an 11:30 a.m. Mass, Father Haase will speak on “The Generosity of Mary”; and on Jan. 7 at a 9:30 a.m., Father Haase will discuss “The Maternity of Mary,” said Carmela Van Hook, associate director of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor.
Father Haase is a spiritual director in Texas and author of nine books on popular spirituality (www.albertOFM.org). He was a missionary in China for approximately 11 years, and has a sister, Bridget, an Ursuline nun who lives in Boston.
Ursuline Sister Carolyn Marie Brockland, executive director of the shrine, said the triduum had been celebrated with the feast day until Katrina struck in 2005.
“We brought it back for the bicentennial year in 2016 when we had a big celebration after restoring the shrine,” Sister Carolyn said.
The cornerstone for the current shrine was laid in 1922, and the shrine was dedicated in 1924. It was consecrated in 1928, the year the Holy See approved and confirmed the naming of Our Lady of Prompt Succor as patroness of the city of New Orleans and state of Louisiana.
“We believe that Our Lady of Prompt Succor belongs to anyone,” she said. “When the city was saved in 1815, everybody was saved, but especially the women who would have been the victims had the British succeeded. They were there praying with the sisters during the battle. This devotion to Mary has always been part of our city. Our Lady of Prompt Succor is patroness of the city, the state, the archdiocese and all the dioceses of Louisiana … The more we can help everyone experience that the better.”
For Sister Carolyn, who professed her final vows as an Ursuline in New Orleans and served as the high school principal and was prioress during Katrina, the Jan. 8 feast means a lot.
“It’s very much a part of who we are as Ursulines in New Orleans, and I identify with that completely.”
Van Hook said the Ursuline sisters first arrived in New Orleans in 1727, only nine years after Bienville founded the city of New Orleans. They established a school for girls, now the oldest girls’ school in operation in the United States.
The Ursulines shared their devotion to “Notre Dame de Prompt Secours” (quick help) with their students and the people of New Orleans and petitioned to Our Lady of Prompt Succor not only for deliverance from wars, but for “fire, pestilence, disease, storms, despair and hopelessness.”
“Our Lady’s history is so intertwined with New Orleans history,” Van Hook said. It is known as a national votive shrine because people worldwide bring petitions to her year-round, and these petitions are presented at the altar Jan. 8.
The statue of Our Lady of Prompt Succor came to the Ursulines’ Chartres Street convent in New Orleans in 1810, according to the shrine’s Mary Lee Harris, who conducts shrine tours and coordinates weddings, funerals and baptisms. It remained there until 1824 when it moved to the Ursulines’ Dauphine Street chapel.
In 1815, in gratitude for the miracle of America’s victory over the British in the Battle of New Orleans, the Ursulines, along with New Orleans Bishop Louis DuBourg, made a promise to celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving each year on Jan. 8, the feast of Our Lady of Prompt Succor.
Pope Leo XIII decreed a solemn coronation of the statue as Our Lady of Prompt Succor in 1894, Harris said, and designated Archbishop Francis Janssens to crown her in 1895, making it among the few miraculous statues in North America and the only statue in the U.S. to be crowned by a pope’s delegate.
The shrine is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., with daily Mass at 5 p.m. Mass is celebrated on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and Sunday at 9:30 a.m. The shrine also celebrates all the Marian feast days such as the Immaculate Conception. For details, visit www.shrineofourladyofprompt succor.com.