There are a few canonized saints of African descent: St. Perpetua, St. Felicity, St. Cyprian of Carthage (second in importance only to St. Augustine and Father of the African Church), St. Zeno, St. Anthony of Egypt, St Moses the Black, St. Pachomius, St. Maurice, St. Athanasius, a Doctor of the Church, St. Mary of Egypt (was a prostitute for 17 years before she received the Eucharist and chose to live the remainder of her life as a hermit), St. Cyril of Alexandria (Doctor of the Church), St. Monica, her son St. Augustine, St. Thecla, St. Benedict the Moor, St. Martin de Porres (the only black saint from the Western hemisphere), St. Charles Lwanga and Companions, and St. Josephine Bakhita.
According to the most recent published statistics from the USCCB there are an estimated 3 million African-American Catholics in the United States. The numbers are inclusive of Africans, Caribbeans, Central and South Americans. Despite having had many black Catholics in the United States who powerfully witnessed their faith and left lasting legacies in the face of prejudice, ignorance, and indifference, we are still waiting for the canonization of the first African-American saint. Currently, there are 6 blacks in the process of canonization. They are:
Venerable Father Augustus Tolton, the first publicly known African American to have been ordained for the Church in the United States.
Venerable Mother Henriette Delille, the "Servant of Slaves”, the foundress of the Sisters of the Holy Family in New Orleans and died in 1862.
Servant of God Mother Marie Elizabeth Clarisse Lange born in Haiti and fled to Cuba at a very young age. She came to Baltimore as a well-educated young woman and felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to open a school for poor black children and to form a religious community of black sisters.
Venerable Pierre Toussaint brought to the states as a slave from Haiti in 1787 and was apprenticed to a New York City hairdresser. After the death of his slave master, Pierre Toussaint began to service some of New York City’s elite and became a philanthropist.
Servant of God Julia Greeley born into slavery, in Missouri and became a free woman in 1865. A convert to Catholicism in 1880 and she became one of the most enthusiastic promoters of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Servant of God Sister Thea Bowman was born in Mississippi in 1937, the granddaughter of a slave. Although a Methodist, she attended a school run by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. She fell in love with Catholicism and was received in the church.
In this section, one can learn more and more about each candidate and hopefully identify with one or all of them. We prayerfully and patiently await the recognition of these great but humble Blacks in the United States who have been exemplary Catholics. And as black Catholics, let us call on their intercession in our needs.