Henriette Delille, S.S.F.

Henriette Delille, S.S.F. – March 11, 1813 to November 16, 1862 (Biography adapted from Black Catholics on the Road to Sainthood, Michael R. Heinlen, editor)


Henriette Diaz Delille was a free woman of color born on March 11, 1813 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Ms. Delille was a nurse, a teacher, and a caregiver for the impoverished of New Orleans, many of whom were Black, enslaved women and children. In 1837, Ms. Delille founded The Sisters of the Holy Family, a religious order of consecrated women. The Sisters of the Holy Family welcomed senior women into their home, caring for them through serious sickness and death, especially during the yellow fever epidemic of 1853. At a time when educating them was forbidden by law, she opened schools for enslaved children of color. In 1997, Delille became the first United States native-born African American whose cause for canonization has been officially opened by the Catholic Church, thereby confirming what was said in her obituary: “For the love of Jesus Christ she had become the humble and devout servant of the slaves.”


Henriette Delille was named Venerable in 2010.


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O good and gracious God, You called Henriette Delille to give herself in service and in love to the slaves and the sick, to the orphan and the aged, to the forgotten and the despised.

Grant that inspired by her life, we might be renewed in heart and in mind.  If it be Your will, may she one day be raised to the honor of sainthood.  By her prayers, may we live in harmony and peace, through Jesus Christ, Our Lord.  Amen.