New Orleans History -- Lake Pontchartrain
Friday, July 12, 2024
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1862 Henriette Delille Dies

Henriette Delille, the founder of the Sisters of the Holy Family, was born a free woman of color in New Orleans in 1813. She was a feminist, social worker and educator. She and a friend, Cuban born Juliette Gaudin, worked to teach religion to the slaves, encouraged free quadroon women to select men of their own class and encouraged slave couples to have their unions blessed by the church.

In 1835, Delille sold all of her property hoping to found a community of Black nuns to teach in a school for free girls of color. After several failed attempts, Delille and Gaudin received permission from the diocese to begin a new religious order. The Sisters of the Holy Family Order was founded at St. Augustine's Church in 1842. They were later joined by Josephine Charles. The first three novices, Delille, Gaudin and Charles, are considered the founders of the congregation. Although the primary work of the sisters was in the area of education, during her tenure as head of the order, Delille made it possible for the order to build a home for the sick, aged, and poor Black residents of the city.

At the time of her death, on November 16, 1862, the order numbered twelve. She is buried in St. Louis Cemetery No. 2.