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

Seals, Catherine

(born: 1874  -  died: 1930) 

Catherine Seal (or Seals) was born in Hustonville, KY. Although illiterate, she led one of the largest religious movements in the United States, the Church of the Innocent Blood, which was an interracial faith. She believed that women made better leaders. She had thousands of female followers, both black and white, and 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. In 1930, 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. She was listed as living on Charbonnet Street in New Orleans in the 1930 U.S. Federal Census. After Seal's death, Mother Rita took charge as head of the church, temporarily, warning that if the church were sold, then 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; and "Physicking Priestess" in Time, vol. 17, issue 16 (04/20/1931), pp. 63-64. See also "Catherine Seals" in The Spirit of Black Hawk by Jason Berry [her last name is spelled "Seals" in Berry's book]. See also M. Sanders, "Digging to learn more about Mother Catherine Seals," New Orleans Magazine, April 2011 [online].

Kentucky County & Region

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Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Hustonville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
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Outside Kentucky Place Name


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: African-American religious leaders : a-z of African Americans
NKAA Source: The Spirit of Black Hawk: a mystery of Africans and Indians

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Seals, Catherine,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 17, 2021,

Last modified: 2020-10-22 17:19:35