Catholic Church Close to Canonizing its First Black American Saint, Augustus Tolton

Father Augustus Tolton (Public domain, Wikipedia)
Father Augustus Tolton (Public domain, Wikipedia)

A Vatican committee has unanimously voted to send the sainthood cause of Father Augustus Tolton, a former runaway slave and the first African-American priest in the United States, to the next stage.

Father Tolton was born into slavery in Monroe County, Missouri, in 1854 and escaped to Quincy, Illinois, with his family during the Civil War. He studied for the priesthood in Rome because no American seminary would accept him on account of his race. He was ordained in 1889 and served for three years at a parish in Quincy, eventually accepting an invitation to come to Chicago, where he led St. Monica parish until his death in 1897.

A nine-member theological commission at the Vatican voted unanimously Feb. 5 that Tolton’s sainthood cause, which began in 2010, be moved forward and presented to the “Ordinary Meeting of Cardinals and Archbishops,” the Archdiocese of Chicago announced last month.

There the members will take a final vote before presenting a “Decree of Heroic Virtues” to Pope Francis for approval.

Father Tolton would receive the title of “Venerable” after that decree’s approval, which indicates he “lived the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity and the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance at a heroic level,” the archdiocese said.

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SOURCE: Catholic News Agency