BNHA Mother Lange Monument

Interpretive Framework

Gaining Freedom for All: African American Heritage and the Struggle for Equality

Star Attractions

Pennsylvania Avenue Heritage Trail

Resource Type

Points of Interest

610 George St

Baltimore, Maryland 21201

A simple plaque pays tribute to a possible future saint who worked tirelessly serving and educating Baltimore’s blacks. Born in the Haiti in 1784, Elizabeth Clovis Lange was the founder and first Superior-General of the Oblate Sisters of Providence, the first black Roman Catholic order in the United States. The Haitian revolution forced her to leave her birthplace. After migrating to eastern Cuba, she eventually settled in Baltimore in 1827. Here, she invested her inheritance to open the first school for the City’s black French-speaking immigrants.

Pope Gregory XV provided for Mother Lange to organize the Oblate Sisters of Providence because of her unwavering dedication to her church and the educationally deprived. With the assistance of a Cuban refugee, Marie Magdelaine Balas, and Father Joubert, a French Sulpician priest, her vision took shape at the Saint Frances Academy. She also served the greater community through various aid programs for the hungry and the homeless.

During the Civil War years, she became the local superior of Saint Benedict’s School in Baltimore and later led the establishment of other schools in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New Orleans. By the time she died in 1882, the Oblate order influence had extended across the United States, to the Caribbean, and Central America. Attempts to make her the first African American female to be canonized continue. Today, the Saint Francis Academy serves the Baltimore community and educates Baltimore’s best and brightest.