Born in New
Orleans in 1812 by mixed parents, a free person of color. By
1836, she had inspired a group of women to assist the sick and
dying, to feed the hungry, and bring the word of god to the
uneducated people among her.
That same year, she wrote the simple prayer that guided her
life: "I believe in God. I hope in God. I love and I want
to live and die for God." By 1841, this group of pious
women was both encouraged and recognized by the Church. The
Sisters of the Holy Family trace their official origin to the
By 1851, Henriette Delille had personally
purchased a home where these women could live in community and
further their ministry. At her death in 1862, Henriette Delille
was known as one "who for the love of Jesus Christ had
made herself the humble servant of slaves."
Henriette Delille was
born into a prosperous and influential family in 1812. She
was the youngest of the four children of Marie Josephe Diaz
and Jean Baptiste Lille Sarpy (Sarpi) of French and Italian
descent. Her mother was described as a femme de couleur libre
(free woman of color), a quadroon.
was Henriette Leveau who had Marie Joseph with John Joseph
Dias, a wealthy Spanish Merchant. Henriette Leveau’s
parents were Cecile Marthe Basile Dubreuil and ( ) Leveau.
Cecile’s parents were Marie Ann and Claude Joseph Dubreuil,
a Frenchman from France. Henriette’s family lived in
the French Quarters not far from the cathedral.
was where most of the Creoles of the city lived. All -- whether they were black, white, or racially mixed,
slave or free - shared a common CREOLE cultural identity. Henriette,
learned early in life the religious views of the Catholic
faith. When Henriette was
17 years of age, she joined several friends to evangelize
the city’s slaves and free people of color. They were
Juliette Gaudin, Josephine Charles, and possibly Susanne Navarre.
from Cuba and Josephine was a native of New Orleans.
were all Creoles of Color. These youths gathered on Sundays
to pray at the bishop’s chapel and at St. Louis Cathedral.
week they found delight in doing good, feeding the poor, and
teaching catechism to the neglected colored children.
By 1836, Henriette Delille, along with her two friends were
permitted to form a religious order, which at first was called
The Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed VirginMary.
Henriette used all of her money which was willed to her by
her mother to aid in her work with the poor, the needy and
The good works of these religious women soon got the attention
of the Catholic Church prelates. By 1840, the ministry of
these women had become so invaluable that Bishop Antoine
Blanc sent a request to papal officials that the association
be affiliated with the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary
in Rome. The women who were encouraged to join them had to
families that were respectable, elite and wealthy Free People
of Color (who were considered Creoles at that time) their
affiliation was confirmed in 1841, just one year preceding
the Sisters of the Holy Family give for the establishment
of their religious community. Therefore, Henriette and her
friends established the First Order for Creole Nuns in America.
Henriette Delille wrote in her diary in 1836 these words:
- “I believe in God. I hope in God. I love. I wish to
live and die for God.” Mother Delille, along with her
two friends, continued their religious work throughout the
years until her death in 1862.
Henriette Delille has been placed up for canonization as a
saint by the Sisters of the Holy Family and the Catholic Archdiocese
of New Orleans as of 1989. She will be the first Native Born
American -Creole saint to be so canonized.
NOTE: In most of the web links, it is written that the Sisters
of the Holy Family consisted of both Creole and African women
We Creoles have a Tedancy to think for Ourselves and never allow Others to determine what's right for Us ...There is no Other Country in the World , outside of America, that Legislate Ones' Race or Nationality
..We Creoles know what and who We are and it is ridiculous to think that another person or legislative body should determine for others, their nationality or Race
...During the time of slavery, We had no choice,,but those days are gone...Now We Creoles should be able to determine Who We are and how We should be called...We , as a People have been ignored and forgotten for so long that that even Creoles themselves are accepting the African/ American identity...
It has been said that you cannot legislate morality and neither can You Legislate Racial identity....We Are not Black and We are not White ...We are Creoles..and that is forever. Henriette Delille is not an AFRICAN / AMERICAN...and it should be Obvious to all...Lets give Her that honor and the Respect her Ancestors and she Deserve...
for the Preservation of Creole Cultural Heritage, Inc.
Post Office Box 43313
Los Angeles, CA 90043
Archbishop Alfred Hughes
Diocese of New Orleans and
Sisters of the Holy Family
New Orleans, Louisiana
Dear Archbishop Hughes and Sisters of the Holy Family:
This letter comes to
you both as a last request that you cease and desist identifying
Mother Henriette Delille as a Native Born African American
(Only) in your desire to canonize her as a Saint of the Roman
You can refer to my
Petition (dated 1989) addressed to Pope John Paul of the Vatican,
Rome, Italy in which I stated the reasons that Mother Delille
should not be identified as a Native Born African American
but as the Native Born French Creole American or in lieu of
that a Free Person of Color that she was at the time of her
When Mother Delille
lived, she was identified as a Free Person of Color and not
an African-American. A Native Born African American could
only be someone who had come directly from Africa, such as
the slaves which were piled on ships for slavery purposes
of the Europeans and the white Americans.
It is beyond me that
you should continue the One Drop Policy
which has been outlawed as far back as 1975 in identifying
Mother Henriette Delille who lived from 1812 to 1862, which
basically came about through the Jim Crow Laws of 1896, in
which all multiracials were thrown in with the newly emancipated
slaves in 1865.
If the greatest importance
in your minds is to focus on her
African ancestry,(so that you can gain on the financial and
political gains of the church and also make the many
African-American nuns happy) then state so but also give her
other ancestries which are as follows - Italian and French
ancestry from her grandfather, Jean Baptiste Delille Sarpy
(Sarpi; Spanish ancestry from her mother, Marie Joseph Diaz;
French ancestry from her great great grandparent - Claude
Millions of Creoles
throughout America and all over the
continent will be up in arms should this canonizaton go on
as you have published throughout all of the churches from
the east coast to the west coast;and I don’t think that
you will be happy over their discontent and outcrying over
your misidentification of Mother Henriette Delille. This will
bring a blight to her canonization. So it is beyond me that
you would want to go against history.
I will await your decision
on this matter. I would rather not
bring this issue to the public for your sakes. But should
be necessary, you leave me no other avenues.
Mrs. Marion I. Ferreira,
President & Founder of
Associates for the Preservation
of Creole Cultural Heritage
cc: Pope John Paul,
Vatican, Rome Italy
Congress of Bishops
Los Angeles Times Newspaper
Congress of Racial Equality
Comments, Dead Links? Email Webmaster **All articles taken from selected reading materials are the sole property
of the authors listed. In no way are these articles credited to this site.
The material presented is only a brief presentation of writings from the
publisher & producer of each article.
French Creoles of America®, All Rights Reserved