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a763: Haitian saint? (fwd)
Former Slave, future saint?
By Leonard Greene
New York Post, 2/13/02
If anyone deserves to be canonized by the Catholic Church, Norman Darden
reasons, it's Pierre Toussaint, a 19th-century entrepreneur who bought his
way out of slavery after a life of piety and community service.
Darden, a Manhattan writer who is among the leaders of a crusade to have
Toussaint sanctified by the Vatican, begins with the name. In French, the
language of Toussaint' s naitve Haiti, the name means "all saints."
"Unfortunately, he was a layman, and that is going to be a hindrance,"
But over the years, Toussaint's petitioners have won important converts.
Toussaint, who styled hair for the New York elite in the 1800s, cleared a big
hurdle when Washington's archbishop launched an investigation into the
extraordinary recovery of a severely ill Maryland boy to see if it was a
miracle that could be attributed to Toussaint.
The boy and his parents had traveled to New York to pray at Toussaint's tomb.
If the miracle is verified, only one more would be needed to make Toussaint
the church's first black American saint.
Some would say the second miracle already has occurred. Toussaint is entombed
in a crypt under the high altar at St. Patrick's Cathedral, the only layman
Toussaint's master took him form Port-au-Prince to New York in the late 1700s
to escape rebelling slaves.
Once in New York, Toussaint apprenticed under a high-society hairstylist
whose clients he later inherited. The business made him rich, and he shared
the wealth cheerfully with the church and the poor, including his master's
wife who became destitute after her husband's death.