From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Seals, Catherine

(born: 1874  -  died: 1930) 

Catherine Seals (or Seal) was born in Hustonville, KY. Although illiterate, she led the interracial faith Church of the Innocent Blood, one of the largest religious movements in the United States.

Seals believed that women made better leaders. She had thousands of female followers, both black and white; she focused on caring for unmarried pregnant women. They prayed to the image of a Black Jesus.

Seal's ministry was in New Orleans, LA, where her church was built. She was listed as living on Charbonnet Street in New Orleans in the 1930 U.S. Federal Census. That year, Mother Catherine told her followers that she needed to go home to fight a spirit; she died a few hours after she arrived in Lexington, KY.

After Seals' death, Mother Rita took charge as head of the church temporarily, warning that if the church were sold, New Orleans would be destroyed by a flood. The property was sold in 1931 because Mother Catherine left no will. There were no unpaid debts or taxes, so the proceeds from the sale went to the Louisiana State Treasury.

For more see African-American Religious Leaders, by N. Aaseng; "Physicking Priestess" in Time, vol. 17, issue 16 (4/20/1931), pp. 63-64; "Catherine Seals" in The Spirit of Black Hawk, by Jason Berry;  M. Sanders, "Digging to learn more about Mother Catherine Seals," New Orleans Magazine, April 2011 [online]; "Mother Catherine Seals and the Temple of the Innocent Blood," 12/1/2016 radio broadcast at the website (includes photograph of Mother Catherine); and "Mother Catherine Seals" at the New Orleans Historical website.

Kentucky County & Region

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Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Hustonville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Lexington, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name

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NKAA Source: The Spirit of Black Hawk: a mystery of Africans and Indians

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“Seals, Catherine,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed May 24, 2024,

Last modified: 2021-09-27 15:39:08