THE ICON: Frances Joseph-Gaudet
THE LEGACY: The word “saint” gets thrown a lot, particularly in New Orleans. But Frances Joseph-Gaudet came by the title honestly. Born in poverty in Mississippi during the Civil War, she came to New Orleans as a young woman and eventually began earning a living as a seamstress. When she wasn’t sewing, she was volunteering to minister to the city’s most overlooked and forsaken: its prisoners. It would become a lifelong pursuit, launching her into a career of prisoner advocacy, including working to establish a juvenile court and taking personal responsibility for young offenders she thought were being given up on. When her house became too full, she opened a school on Gentilly Road to continue, and expand, her work. In 2007, the Blessed Frances Joseph-Gaudet was recognized as a saint of the Episcopal Church. Her feast day is Dec. 30.
THE ARTIST: Queen Hope Parker
THE INSPIRATION: “There is a chronic class of prisoners, white and colored, who are out one week and in the next. Some deem this class hopeless, but I believe there is some good in all, and as long as there is life there is hope.” — Frances Joseph-Gaudet, in her 1913 autobiography “He Leadeth Me”