- 2005 - The life, virtues, and reputation of sanctity of Henriette Delille were tried at the
Archdiocesan New Orleans Tribunal and an alleged miracle attributed to her intercess-
ion was tried in the Galveston-Houston Tribunal.
- 2006 - All documents were signed, boxed, sealed, sent to Rome and registered at the
Congregation for the Causes of Saints. These documents were declared valid on November 10.
- 2007 - The Positio, a compilation and defense of all the documents, written by our Postulator, Dr. Andrea Ambrosi, on Henriette*s
Life, Virtue and Reputation of Sanctity was completed.
- 2008 - Seven historians approved the Positio.
- 2009 - Nine theologians gave their approval of the Positio
- 2010 - 15 Archbishops and Cardinals from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints affirmed that Henriette Delille practiced
- 2010 - The Pope declared Henriette venerable.
- The research into Henriette's life is now finished, and finished with a positive decision.
- 2010 The Positio on the alleged miracle was completed. It must be approved by: two doctors; then 7 doctors; and 7 theologians.
- The combined work of the doctors and theologians will be given to the members of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints who
will present the conclusion to the Holy Father.
- If positive, Henriette will be declared blessed.
- The Beatification Ceremony will take place in new Orleans, LA.
- Another miracle will be needed for sainthood.
Venerable Henriette Delille, 1812 - 1862 “Servant of Slaves”
(excerpt from the Henriette Delille brochure)
In this piece, the reader will be told about Henriette Delille, what she did, why she is important, and why she is a candidate for sainthood.
Born in 1812, Henriette Delille was a real life person like you and me. She was born a free woman of color and lived her life in New Orleans, Louisiana. Henriette was surrounded by family and friends.
Among Henriette's relatives was her great, great grandmother who was a slave from West Africa. Her mother and the other women in her family followed the plaçage system. This means colored women "in concubinage" with wealthy white men. In recent findings, in funeral records, though unsubstantiated, Henriette may have given birth to two sons who died before the age of three. She had one sister and two brothers, one of whom died in infancy. Descendants have been found and are in touch with the Sisters.
When Henriette was 24 years old, she underwent a religious experience. This religious experience is expressed in a brief declaration of faith and love. On the flyleaf of a book centered on the Eucharist, is a profession of love, in her own handwriting. Written in French: "Je crois en Dieu. J'espère en Dieu. J'aime. Je v[eux] vivre et mourir pour Dieu."
In 1836 Henriette drew up the rules and regulations for devout Christian women, which would eventually become the Society of the Holy Family. The group was foundedfor the purpose of nursing the sick, caring for the poor, and instructing the ignorant.
1842 is the date for the founding of the Sisters of the Holy Family for the same purposes. Henriette was assisted by her friends, Juliette Gaudin and Josephine Charles. Records show that these women served as godmothers to many: slaves, free, children, and adults. They also witnessed many marriages.
With a three pronged program and a set of carefully drawn up rules, they expressed their apostolic intentions through caring for the sick, helping the poor, and instructing the ignorant of their people, free and enslaved, children and adults, in the name of Jesus Christ and the Church.
They took into their home elderly women who needed more than visitation, and thereby opened America's first Catholic home for the elderly of its kind, as recorded in the National Register. Noteworthy are the heroic efforts of the early Sisters who cared for the sick and the dying during the yellow fever epidemics that struck New Orleans in 1853 and 1897.
In the eyes of the world Henriette may not have accomplished much, but her obituary and the Catholic Church tell us otherwise. “ . . . (Henriette) devoted herself untiringly for many years, without reserve, to the religious instruction of the people of New Orleans, principally of slaves. . . .” The last line of her obituary reads, ". . . for the love of Jesus Christ she had become the humble and devout servant of the slaves.”
Because she lived such a holy, prayerful, and virtuous life, we, the Sisters of the Holy Family, wanted to present her to the world as a model of a true Christian. Therefore, we asked, from the Catholic Church, permission to begin a canonization process. Through the efforts of the late Archbishop Philip Hannan, this request was granted by Blessed John Paul II in 1988. The Church then declared her "Servant of God."
The process to sainthood has four phases: servant of God, venerable, blessed, and saint. Two of the phases, servant of God and venerable, are complete. Venerable was decreed by Pope Benedict XVI March 27, 2010.
Venerable Henriette Delille is the first United States native born African American whose cause for canonization has been officially opened by the Catholic Church. What remains for the process to be complete is the validation of an alleged miracle which is now being processed. If all goes well and Pope Benedict XVI issues the decree of the alleged miracle's authenticity, then Henriette will be proclaimed blessed.
What follows is a glorious ceremony and celebration in New Orleans. A second miracle would be needed for sainthood.
Venerable Henriette Delille lived her prayer: "I believe in God. I hope in God. I love. I want to live and die for God."
Sister Eva Regina Martin, Congregational leader of the Sisters of the Holy Family accompanied by four additional Sisters made a pilgrimage to Rome in late October; the purpose of the visit was two fold.
The first reason was to attend the October 21st canonization of St. Kateri Tekakwitha.
Reason two, was to visit Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Cause of Saints, the Vatican congregation that will make a judgment on the possible beatification of Mother Henriette Delille, Foundress of the Sisters of the Holy Family in 1842. Her purpose was to care for and educate slaves and free people of color in Pre-Civil War New Orleans.
The Vatican congregation is still reviewing the medical cure of Marilyn Groves from life threatening double pneumonia and bacterial infection as a 4-year old. Groves, the grand
niece of Sister Doris Goudeaux of the Sisters of the Holy Family, began to
rally from her serious illness after her family prayed for her healing through
the intercession of Mother Henriette. Sister Eva Regina said that Cardinal
Amato remains very interested in the cause. A panel of medical experts has
asked for more information about Grove's recovery before it can affirm that
healing has no clear medical explanation. Cardinal Amato said, "the process
of the case is still in good shape, but right now it rests with seven doctors. That's
where everything is right now. There are some questions that need to be
answered and once they pass that, that should be the greatest hurdle."
Joining Sister Eva at that meeting were Sister Greta Jupiter, Assistant
Congregational Leader, Sister Marie de Montfort, Geneva James and
Lucille Stelly. The cardinal urged the sisters to continue promoting
Venerable's story to as many people as possible. "Our challenge is
to make her known, to put her name out there and tell the world about
her so that people can pray to her and call on her name. Sister Eva
said, "He told us we need to pray and make sacrifices to make sure
the cause is brought forth. It all depends on prayer and sacrifice"
She indicated that she does not know how long the process will
take from this point but the original doctors have been asking for
more information on the healing. "Our job is to pray this thing
through, " Sister Eve said. "When it's going to occur, I don't
know. It's kind of like a mystical experience of faith."