• Fri. Jan 21st, 2022

With the start of the hurricane season, the Catholics of the coast turn to this saint to protect themselves from the storms

Byeditorial

Jun 1, 2021

(CNN) – When Hurricane Matthew hit Florida’s Atlantic coast in 2016, Beth Williby was scared.“That particular hurricane just made me nervous,” recalled the Jacksonville mother of four. “So I did what any modern woman would do, and I googled: who do you pray to protect you from hurricanes?”

The result she obtained was the strange title of a special intermediary long known to Catholics on the Gulf Coast and beyond as charged with spiritual defense against windblown bands of rain and flooding caused by storms. .

Our Lady of Prompt Succor (In English “Prompt Succor”) is a representation of the Virgin Mary known for giving to her son, Jesus Christ, the prayers of those who seek «Maternal care and comfort».

“Through the intercession of Our Lady of Prompt Help, may we not suffer damage to life and property during the hurricane season!” page dedicated to the hurricane season, that starts this Tuesday, on the website of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

With up to five major hurricanes forecast this year, Our Lady’s spiritual inbox will soon be full. And there is no doubt that a lot of messages they will arrive from Louisiana, a state about which reigns as patron and the main stage of its history.

“The miraculous change of the winds”

According to tradition, in 1803 a French nun expected to meet her cousin at the Ursuline convent in New Orleans. But his local bishop, who did not want him to leave, insisted that he obtain permission from the pope, who was then a prisoner of Napoleon Bonaparte.

The nun wrote to the Pontiff and prayed the following before a statue of Mary: “If you will grant me a prompt and favorable response to this letter, I promise you that it will be honored in New Orleans under the title of Our Lady of Prompt Help.”

So it was.

Our Lady of Prompt Help is also credited with “the miraculous turning of the winds” that in 1788 and 1794 saved the Ursuline Convent of New Orleans from fire, as well as having managed to keep a force of 3,000 Americans at bay. a British fleet three times as large during the Battle of New Orleans in 1815, according to the official history of the sanctuary.

When granted a special papal honor in 1895, the women of New Orleans “donated their prized necklaces, bracelets, brooches, rings, and earrings to be made of gold crowns and precious jewels” for the statue of Our Lady of Prompt Help cradling the baby Jesus, the story goes.

Since then, statues representing Mary and her son’s “soon help” have included gold robes, said Mary Lee Harris, assistant archivist at the Ursuline Convent Archive and Museum.

“The strength to face what lies ahead”

The Virgen del Pronto Socorro, who is believed to have helped overcome fires, wars and other problems, soon became known as “the go-to person in case of disaster”, including the devastating natural phenomena that can hit southern Louisiana almost every summer: Hurricanes, Harris said.

It is a smart move on the part of a people of faith who tend to choose their holy allies depending on the circumstances, such as Saint Anthony when objects are lost or Saint Jude when hope seems lost.

“She is her son’s advocate… but she does it fast,” Harris said, underscoring the factor that is perhaps most decisive when a storm hits the Gulf of Mexico.

However, as people of any religious tradition know, blessings do not always come as requested.

When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005, the ensuing flooding caused The putrid and brackish water will enter the cellar Elevated two meters from the National Shrine of Our Lady of Socorro, in the upper part of the city, explains Harris. Mechanical equipment and electrical and computer wiring were destroyed, along with a whole catalog of damages caused to the adjoining girls’ school, the Ursuline Academy.

The National Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor in New Orleans was damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

‘People were joking. They said, ‘We were wrong.’ … What happened was that we forgot to pray that the levees didn’t break, ‘”Harris said.

However, the true gift of God was what happened just over four months later, when hundreds of faithful flocked to the sanctuary to celebrate a mass of thanksgiving on the feast day of Our Lady of Prompt Help.

“What they did was thank Our Lady for saving our families and for allowing us to come back and give us the courage and strength to start rebuilding,” Harris said.

In fact, Williby offers prayers to the Virgin while attending to the elements of the hurricane to-do listFrom covering windows to filling bathtubs with fresh water to checking flashlight batteries.

“For me personally, it’s about having peace,” said Williby, who has a blog at To welcome grace Y Blessed is she. “It’s about knowing that I have made the physical preparations that I need to do, and I ask you to pray that we are safe. But ultimately, our fate is not decided by us.

“It’s not that I’m asking for the storm to part and surround our house,” he continued. “I ask him to bring us peace and to allow us to overcome this as it may and that God grant us the strength to face what lies ahead.”

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