Black Saints of the Catholic Church
St. Anthony the Great
He is often depicted with a Tau-shaped cross, a pig and a bell. In the Middle Ages the belief arose that praying to St. Anthony would effect a cure for ergotism, a type of skin inflammation now also called "St. Anthony's fire." An order devoted to caring for those afflicted with the disease, the Order of Hospitallers of St. Anthony of Egypt, wore the Tau cross and rang bells to beg for alms, and pigs belonging to the order were allowed to roam the streets freely.
St Anthony is the patron saint of animals, skin diseases, farmers, butchers, basket makers, brush makers, grave diggers, Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, Rome. Attributes: bell, pig, book, Tau cross and Tau cross with bell pendant. He died in 356 in solitude at the age of 105, and his feast day is Jan. 17.
St. Antonio Vieira
Antonio Vieira was an African born in Portugal. When he was fifteen years old, he became a Jesuit novice and later a professor of rhetoric and dogmatic theology. He went to Brazil where he worked to abolish discrimination against Jewish merchants, to abolish slavery, and to alleviate conditions among the poor. On the 200th anniversary of his death in 1897, he was canonized.
St. Athanasius, the great champion of the faith and Doctor of the Church, was born in Alexandria about the year 296, of Christian parents. Educated under the eye of Alexander, later bishop of his native city, he made great progress in learning and virtue. In 313, Alexander succeeded Achillas in the Patriarchal See, and two years later St. Athanasius went to the desert to spend some time in retreat with St. Anthony of Egypt (of whom he later wrote a biography that popularized monastic life).
In 319, he became a deacon and was called upon to oppose the rising heresy of Arianism, which was to become his life's struggle.
St. Augustine of Hippo
St. Augustine's complete turnaround and conversion from a life of loose living and ambition has been an inspiration to many who struggle with a particular vice they long to break.
This famous son of St. Monica was born in Africa and spent many years of his life in wicked living and false beliefs. Though he was one of the most intelligent men who ever lived and though he had been brought up a Christian, his sins of impurity and his pride darkened his mind so much that he could not see or understand the Divine Truth anymore. Through the prayers of his holy mother and the powerful preaching of St. Ambrose, Augustine finally became convinced that Christianity was the one true religion. Yet he did not become a Christian then, because he thought he could never live a pure life. One day, however, he heard about two men who had suddenly been converted on reading the life of St. Anthony, and he felt ashamed.
St. Benedict the Moor
St. Benedict the Moor (also called Benedict the Black), a lay brother, was born in Sicily in 1526. He was the son of African slave parents, but he was freed at an early age. When he was about 21, he was insulted because of his color, but his patient and dignified bearing caused a group of Franciscan hermits who witnessed the incident to invite him to join their group. He became their leader. In 1564 he joined the Franciscan friary in Palermo and worked in the kitchen until 1578, when he was chosen superior of the group. He was known for his power to read people's minds and held the nickname of the "Holy Moor." His life of austerity resembled that of St. Francis of Assisi. He is the patron saint of African missions, African Americans, Black missions, Black people and Palermo.
His feast day is April 4.
Bessarion was a native of Egypt and, having heard the call to perfection, he went into the wilderness, where he was a disciple first of St. Antony and then of St. Macarius. Rather than live under a roof he wandered about like a bird, observing silence and subduing his flesh by mighty fasting. His neighborly charity led him to a height of perfection that was manifested by miracles: he made saltwater fresh, he several times brought rain during drought, he walked on the Nile, he overcame demons. Like so many other desert fathers, St. Bessarion lived to a great age; and he was compared by his admirers with Moses, Joshua, Elias, and John the Baptist. St. Bessarion is named in the Roman Martyrology on June 17th, but his usual date in the East is June 6th.
St. Catherine of Alexandria
She was born in 287 in Alexandria, Egypt, was educated and of noble birth, possibly a princess. Around the age of fourteen, she experienced a moving vision of Mary and the infant Jesus, and she decided to become a Christian.Although she was a teenager, she was very intelligent and gifted.
At 18, she confronted Roman emperor Maxentius for his cruelty to Christians and outwitted him in the debate about worshipping false gods. Rather than order her execution, However, Catherine was moved by the power of the Holy Spirit and spoke eloquently in defense of her faith. Her words were so moving that several of the pagans converted to Christianity and were immediately executed.
Catherine herself was condemned to die by being stretched on the wheel, but her touch rendered the tortuous devise useless. The Emperor, enraged beyond control, then had her beheaded in 306.
She is the patron of a great many professions and causes. Her patronage includes students, unmarried girls, apologists and many more as well as many places around the world. Her feast day is Nov. 25.