No Cross, No Crown
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No Cross, No Crown

Black Nuns in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans
Sister Mary Bernard Deggs
Edited by Virginia Meacham Gould and Charles E. Nolan
Distribution: World
Publication date: 7/15/2002
Format: paper 264 pages, 30 b&w photos, 1 index
6.125 x 9.25
ISBN: 978-0-253-21543-7
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Among New Orleans’ most compelling stories is that of the Sisters of the Holy Family, which was founded in the 19th century and still thrives today. The community’s difficult early years are portrayed in a remarkable account by one of the sisters, Mary Bernard Deggs. While Deggs did not officially join the community until 1873, as a student at the sisters’ early school she would have known Henriette Delille and the other founders. It was not until 1852 that the sisters were able to take their first official vows and exchange their blue percale gowns for black ones, and it was 1873 before they were permitted to wear a formal religious habit. This community of mixed race faced almost insurmountable obstacles, but the women remained unflagging in their dedication to the poor, to education, and to the care of the elderly and the orphaned—to the needs of “their people.”


"This intriguing book collects five biographies of women who became Mothers Superior in the early years of the development of the New Orleans' Sisters of the Holy Family, Louisiana's first religious community of women of African descent. Written by Sister Mary Bernard Deggs more than a century ago, the historical account covers its founding and early development by five very remarkable women. The title of the book comes from an entry in Deggs's journal in which she indicated that, though the early years were very difficult, the Sisters were blessed with many graces and also many crosses which were said to be the best of all graces, as no cross, no crown. In spite of the complexities of Deggs's journal, editors Gould (Our Lady of the Holy Cross, New Orleans) and Nolan (Archdiocese of New Orleans) managed to maintain its original tone, replete with admiration and concern for the Mothers Superior. No Cross, No Crown includes both a detailed preface that offers a biography of the author and an extensive introduction that provides a historical background to the founding of the religious community and the political context in which it took root. General readers; undergraduates, including community college students; professionals and practitioners." —M. F. Nefsky, University of Lethbridge , 2002apr CHOICE

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Table of Contents


Part I. Mothers Henriette Delille and Juliette Gaudin

Part II. Mother Josephine Charles

Part III. Mother Marie Magdalene Alpaugh

Part IV. Mother Marie Cecilia Capla

Part V. Mother Mary Austin Jones


illustrations follow page XXX