My good Mother, if you will take away promptly the obstacles that stand in the way of our departure, I will carry you to New Orleans, and I promise to have you honored there by every means in my power.
— Sister Felicite
A smaller statue of the Blessed Mother, fondly called “Sweetheart,” was brought to New Orleans by one of the Sisters from the monastery of Pont S. Esprit in France. In celebration of 275 years of the Ursulines in New Orleans, the statue has been cleaned and moved from the Ursuline Academy museum to a special place in the Shrine. Scarcely twelve inches high, the little plastered statue was destined for disposal when Sister Felicite found it in her convent attic in France in 1785. Pained to see this image of Our Lady so carelessly cast aside, Sr. Felicite fell to her knees and prayed. “My good Mother, if you will take away promptly the obstacles that stand in the way of our departure, I will carry you to New Orleans, and I promise to have you honored there by every means in my power.” Within a month her petition was granted and “Sweetheart” accompanied Sr. Felicite to the Ursuline Convent in New Orleans.
Though diminutive in size, “Sweetheart” has been credited with many spectacular miracles. It was through the intercession of Our Lady of Prompt Succor that the city of New Orleans was spared when a devastating fire threatened the French Quarter and the Ursuline Convent. Sister Eugenia O’Laughlin’s account of the devastating fire illustrates the rapid response of Our Lady. “Hastily the Superior, Reverend Mother St. Michel, commanded the nuns and school children to leave the building. As she herself turned to go, she was horrified to see Sister St. Anthony, one of the old nuns, climbing the stairs. Following her, Rev. Mother discovered she was carrying the small statue of Our Lady. As the Superior watched, Sr. St. Anthony hurried to the window on the second floor. She set the statue on the sill facing the fire, then knelt and prayed with great confidence: Oh Lady of Prompt Succor, save us or we are lost. At that very instant the wind veered and the flames were blown back over their path of destruction and soon died out.”
Since then, this small statue has had a place of honor in the Ursuline convents in New Orleans. It now stands in a small prayer room in the Shrine.
During both World War I and World War II, soldiers who were husbands, fathers, brothers and sons of Ursuline alumnae brought their ribbons and medals to “Sweetheart” in thanks for their safe return. This early image of Our Lady of Prompt Succor is a vital part of the rich tradition of the Patroness of our city and our state.