Haitian artist Ulrick Jean-Pierre and the work of Sisters of the Holy Family

An artist with a subject to which he can make an emotional connection is bound to create a thing of transcendental beauty. When that artist is Haitian, the culture of the artist's country, the use of emotion in each stroke, the richness of the color and simply the staging of the piece all work to complete the work of art. The artist is Ulrick Jean-Pierre, and his subject was one Henriette Delille. Delille was a free, colored women who founded the Sisters of the Holy Family. It is that sisterhood which commissioned the work and in whose motherhouse, located at 6901 Chef Menteur Highway, the work now hangs.


In the mid 19th century, Delille ministered to the most deprived members of New Orleans. Jean-Pierre's painting of the matriarch isn't the first commissioned, but, according to the congregational leader, Sister Greta Jupiter, it is the one that encapsulates her ministry, her spirit, and the city's culture all in one. So spirited is the painting, a young girl depicted in it has been named "Colette" with great affection by the nuns. Colette can be seen holding the hand of Henriette Delille, with a smile of pure joy on her face.

Having a slave for her great, great grandfather, Delille's legacy is even more significant to the community since she is the first African-American born in the United States whose cause has been officially opened by the Catholic Church for canonization. In her work, she gave special care to elderly women, the poor and the sick.

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