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St. Benedict the Moor

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Feastday: April 4
Patron: of African missions; African American; black missions; black people; Palermo, Sicily San Fratello, Sicily
Birth: 1524
Death: 1589
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Benedict the Moor was born a slave near Messina, Italy. He was freed by his master, 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. He cooked 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 a novice master but asked to be relieved of his post and returned to his former position as 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 saint 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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