YOU SHALL NOT COVET YOUR NEIGHBOR’S GOODS
—CCC, NOS. 2534-2557
I WANT TO LIVE AND DIE FOR GOD
Henriette Delille was born in 1813 in New Orleans. The daughter of a
Catholic mother of African origin and a prosperous white father, she was
a free, beautiful, and educated woman. She was raised a Catholic. As a
child of mixed blood, she was known as a
.White in appearance,
she had the possibility of climbing the social ladder and of marrying a rich
man. Quadroon balls were often held to facilitate such arrangements.
At age eleven, she met Sr. St. Martha Fontier, whose Christian faith
and charitable devotion to African slave families greatly impressed her.
Sr. St. Martha introduced her to the ideal of love as expressed in the vow
By the time Henriette was fourteen, she was teaching religion to the
slaves on the nearby plantations. She regularly visited and helped the sick
and elderly among the freed blacks and slaves. Since it was against the
law to educate slaves, such as teaching them to read, Henriette acted
out stories from Scripture and Church history to teach them about salva-
tion through Jesus Christ.
After her mother’s death in 1836, Henriette sold all her property and
began to fulfill her dream of founding a religious community. Eventually
her dream came true. With the help of a priest friend, Fr. Etienne Rousselon,