How many canonized saints and blesseds of African descent can we claim? One? Ten? A hundred? A thousand? November is Black Catholic History Month. It is a time to celebrate the rich and vibrant Catholic heritage given to us by the many holy men and women who were born on the African continent and those who migrated to the United States and other parts of the world. On October 1st 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized two saints especially dear to African and African American Catholics. St. Josephine Bakhita, who was born in Sudan in 1869, sold as a slave and became a Canossian sister in Italy and St. Katharine Drexel, who was born in Philadelphia in 1858, founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and worked among the African American and Native American people, were the two. From both women, the fragrance of sanctity attracted people from diverse backgrounds and places.
Earlier this month we celebrated the Feast of all Saints, and soon we will be celebrating Thanksgiving. Let us give thanks to God not only for the saints who inspire us and intercede for us, but also for those who through God's providence made it possible them to grow in faith and holiness. It takes not just one, or ten, or a hundred, or a thousand, but a whole village of saints to raise us to holiness!
There are over 700 saints and blesseds of African origin in the Church. Below are the names of only a few. Let us not forget the thousands of unnamed saints and martyrs who laid down their lives for Christ and his people.
Blessed Clementine Anuarite Martyr from Congo. Feast day -December 1st.
St. Charles Lwanga and companions -Martyrs Feast day-June 3rd
Sts. Felex of Abbir, Cyprian of Unizibar and about 4966 companions. African martyrs deported and killed for their faith. Feast day- October 12th
All you Holy Men and Women, Pray for us!