blackhistoryThe process for being declared a saint is ancient, traditional, and often mysterious. Evidence must be presented to persuade Church officials that the person in question in fact lived a virtuous life, had faith, and had the support and help of God. The Church also looks at miracles as evidence that God is working through that person.

  • Venerable Pierre Toussaint (1766-1853), a New York City hairdresser who was also a former slave. He purchased his freedom with the earnings he made from his trade.
  •  Venerable Henriette Delille (1813-1862), the daughter of a white man and mixed-race woman who lived in a common-law relationship, since blacks and whites could not legally marry at the time. Her parents encouraged her to pursue the same path. Instead, she founded the Sisters of the Holy Family in New Orleans, and these women attended to the needs of slaves and poor free blacks. As she prayed, “I believe in God; I hope in God; I love. I want to live and die for God.”
  •  Servant of God Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange (ca. 1794-1882), another former slave, founded and served as the first superior general of the Oblate Sisters of Providence in Baltimore. She founded the order so that black women would have a means by which to enter religious life. Its other purpose was to educate African-American children.
  • Servant of God Sister Thea Bowman (1937-1990), a convert, was probably one of the best educated of the American sainthood candidates. She earned her doctorate at The Catholic University of America. In addition to a prolific and prestigious career in education, she also founded a support organization, the National Black Sisters Conference, and helped create the first African-American Catholic hymnal.

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