The Catholic Church Might Crown Its First African-American Saint, Henriette Delille
She created the Sisters of the Holy Family in the church 175 years ago in New Orleans.
Henriette Delille, a creole woman from New Orleans, is making history by possibly becoming the first African-American person inducted into Catholicism’s sainthood. Following 175 years of the Sisters of the Holy Family order in the Roman Catholic Church, the religious entity might recognize her as a spiritual sovereign, Blavity reports.
Delille was reportedly 24-years-old when she lost both of her children. The tragic events led her to have a spiritual awakening, which then inspired her to create the order. The family order is comprised of creole nuns who committed themselves to taking care of the sick and educating people of color, who at the time did not have the privilege of acquiring an education, the Associated Press reports.
The religious icon’s case for canonization was first made in 1988 by the Vatican, and took over 17 years to produce 3,000 sheets filled with historical global data backing up her case.
"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," states the Sisters of the Holy Family website."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."
Emilie Leumas, the Archdiocese of New Orleans, who also holds a Ph.D in philosophy, said it’s hard to tell whether or not Delille will reach saint status. Delille is one among five African-Americans who are also competing to achieve sainthood status. Reportedly, only one of the figures received venerable position, which is a step beneath actual sainthood. Haitian-born Pierre Toussaint, a former slave and New York based hairdresser who died at 87 in 1853, reached that feat.
While Leumas might have her doubts about Delille’s burgeoning ascribed sainthood reign, she still sees the value in the spiritual woman’s legacy. "Henriette Delille was a remarkably courageous woman, who through her compassionate care for the poor, the enslaved and the uneducated, left a legacy of love and service in the city of New Orleans," Leumas said. "The Sisters of the Holy Family have maintained that mission for 175 years."