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St. Benedict the Black

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Facts

Feastday: April 4
Patron: of African missions; African American; black missions; black people; Palermo, Sicily San Fratello, Sicily
Birth: 1524
Death: 1589

There is a saint called Benedict the Black or Benedict the Moor. He was born a slave near Messina, Italy. He was freed by his master and became a solitary, eventually settling with other hermits at Montepellegrino. He was made superior of the community, but when he was about thirty-eight, Pope Pius IV disbanded communities of solitaries and he became a Franciscan lay brother and the cook at St. Mary's convent near Palermo. He was appointed, against his will, superior of the convent when it opted for the reform, though he could neither read nor write. After serving as superior, he became novice master but asked to be relieved of this post and return to his former position of cook. His holiness, reputation for miracles, and his fame as a confessor brought hordes of visitors to see the obscure and humble cook. He died at the convent, was canonized in 1807, and is the patron of Blacks in the United States. The surname "the Moor" is a misnomer originating from the Italian il moro (the black). His feast day is April 4th.

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