“Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
As I indicated in my last post, part of my repentance for the sins of racism, my own and that of my people, is to learn more about Black Catholic saints and to pray for their intercession. I will share here some of what I learn, providing links to full stories when possible. (Rather than posting many new posts, I will edit this article to add new saints as I discover them – so please come back to check them out!)
A cloud of witnesses
6.2.2020 Today, I learned about St. Benedict the African who was born to parents who were slaves, captured in Africa and brought to Italy. Despite being a Black man in 16th century Italy, uneducated and illiterate, he became a Franciscan, occupying roles ranging from cook to Master of the Friary. His story may be found here.
St. Benedict of Africa, please pray for us that we might develop the humility to seek and find holiness in every person we encounter. May we come to cherish the great gifts God has given the Church through the people of Africa. Amen.
6.3.2020 Today is the feast day of St. Charles Lwanga and companions, a group of 19th century young African men who were martyred in what is now Uganda. Charles was but 26 when he was burned alive at the order of the king of his country. He had been baptized less than a year earlier and yet protected other young men aspiring to the Faith from the ritual sexual abuse the king wanted to inflict on them. (I have chosen to direct you to Wikipedia for his story. Sadly, too many Catholic sites make it sound like Charles was protecting their “chastity” which I think is misleading.) His story may be found here.
Pray for us, O holy Martyrs of Africa, led by Charles Lwanga, that we might have the courage to stand up for what is right and to protect the vulnerable from mistreatment, regardless of the cost to ourselves. You freely followed the way of our Savior in sacrificing yourself out of love for God and your brothers. May we learn from you what it truly means to be a Christian, a follower of Christ. Amen.
6.10.2020 I am currently reading a biography of St. Josephine Bakhita, patron saint of Sudan and survivors of human trafficking. She was born in Darfur around 1869 and was kidnapped by Arab slave traders when still a very young child. She experienced great cruelty at the hands of a number of owners and was forcibly converted to Islam. She no longer knew her own given name or native language. She ended up in Italy and, while “temporarily” staying with the Canossian Sisters, she learned of Christianity, embracing the faith and later becoming a member of their community. Those who knew her withnessed her holiness and she was known for her gentleness and calm demeanor. More details of her story may be found here
St. Bakhita, pray for us that we might learn the way of peace, never losing faith in the midst of hardship. Strengthen our resolve to eliminate all that enslaves our brothers and sisters throughout the world, as well as all that enslaves us from within. May our lives reflect the peace that can only come from God. Amen.