Pierre Toussaint

Pierre Toussaint – June 27, 1776 to June 30, 1853 (Biography adapted from Black Catholics on the Road to Sainthood, Michael R. Heinlen, editor)


Pierre Toussaint was born in 1776 in Haiti. Mr. Toussaint came to New York in 1787 with the family that held him as an enslaved person, seeking to escape the violence of Haiti’s political revolution. He worked as a hairdresser, later becoming a formidable fundraiser for Catholic charities throughout the United States, especially in support of Black Catholics. Toussaint opened the first Black Catholic school in New York and raised funds to start the first Catholic orphanage in the city. When yellow fever broke out, many in power fled New York City for the countryside to escape infection. However, Mr. Toussaint remained in the city to serve the sick and dying.


Toussaint was declared Venerable in 1996.


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Lord God, source of love and compassion, we praise and honor You for the virtuous and charitable life of our brother in Christ, Venerable Pierre Toussaint. Inspired by the example of our Lord Jesus, Pierre worshipped You with love and served your people with generosity. He attended Mass daily and responded to the practical and spiritual needs of friends and strangers, of the rich and the poor, the sick and the homeless of 19th century New York. If it is Your will, let the name of Venerable Pierre Toussaint be officially raised to the rank of Saint, so that the world may know this Haitian New Yorker who refused to hate or be selfish, but instead lived to the full commandments of heaven and the divine law of love – love for God and for neighbor. By following his example and asking for his prayers, may we, too, be counted among the blessed in heaven. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.