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Recognizing Black History Month: Mary Elizabeth Lange

February 27, 2023

In honor of Black History Month, each week in February, we will share the story of an African-American Saint. This week, we introduce you to Servant of God, Mother Elizabeth Clarisse Lange.

Born in Haiti in 1794, Servant of God, Mother Elizabeth Clarisse Lange (aka Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange) eventually settled in Baltimore, Maryland, where many French-speaking Catholic refugees from Haiti had settled. Elizabeth quickly recognized that the children of many Caribbean immigrants needed education. A loving, courageous and deeply spiritual woman, Elizabeth was not only an independent thinker, she was also a woman of action. Standing against the culture of the day, the Archbishop agreed to allow Elizabeth and three other women to take vows of poverty, obedience and chastity. Thus began the order that is called the Oblate Sisters of Providence. 

Mother Mary worked tirelessly helping and teaching those who desperately needed her and her followers. She was the Superior General of the order during the 1830s. She assisted night and day during two separate cholera epidemics. She worked in domestic service and cared for those most in need, especially children. Her strong desire to follow God’s will beautifully connects to our values of justice and community. May her compassion and respect be an inspiration to us all.

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