Project Description

THE ICON: Mother Superior Marie Tranchepain

THE LEGACY: Mother Marie Tranchepain was so eager to get to Louisiana that she signed a contract with the Company of the Indies, which held a business monopoly in the French colonies, that obligated the nuns she was leading to treat the sick in addition to the nuns’ stated plans to spread Catholicism and teach. Tranchepain wasn’t enthusiastic about taking on that extra duty but, as shrewd as she was tough, she took it on, pointing out sternly in a letter that the company had promised a convent near the hospital, adding, “When it will have kept its promise, we shall think about carrying out ours.” Tranchepain fell ill on the voyage and never regained her full strength, although she was no slacker as she negotiated with the company after her arrival in New Orleans in 1727, kept in touch with authorities in Louisiana and France, and supervised a program that educated women in temporal and heavenly matters. Above all that, she gained a foothold for the Ursuline nuns in the fledgling New Orleans — a legacy that continues to this day.

THE ARTIST: Jessica Strahan

THE INSPIRATION: “Marie Tranchepain de St. Augustin set standards of integrity, strength of purpose and above all love for God, which would be emulated by her Ursuline sisters in the city of New Orleans for centuries to come.” — From “Religious Pioneers: Building the Faith in the Archdiocese of New Orleans,” edited by Dorothy Dawes and Charles E. Nolan