Pierre Toussaint (1766-1853)

Pierre Toussaint

February is Black History Month in the USA, a month to remember the accomplishments of  black men and women and the challenge of racism in our society.

Pierre Toussaint, a Haitian who came to New York City in the 18th century is someone who deserves to be known. As a black man and a slave, he was part of New York City’s population that for years went unnoticed and unrecognized. As a Catholic, he belonged to a church that was a suspect minority in New York City after the American Revolution.

Women belonging to New York City’s Protestant establishment were the first to bring Toussaint’s simple, delicate goodness to public attention. They noticed holiness in the hairdresser who had become a vital part of their lives and suggested to his church that there was a saint in their midst.

Toussaint’s remains lie today in the crypt under the main altar of New York City’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral, an honored member of his church. It usually takes time before someone is canonized by the Catholic Church, but one requirement is that people be inspired by the witness of his or her holiness and drawn to become holy themselves.

Some years before Bishop Norbert Dorsey, CP, who died in 2013, wrote his doctoral thesis on Pierre Toussaint. His work is available here, thanks principally to Lynn Ballas, who so competently and generously edited and formatted the bishop’s work.

You can read Bishop Dorsey’s book about Pierre Toussaint by clicking the link below. May his holy life inspire you and draw you to God who blessed this faithful man.

Pierre Toussaint

9 thoughts on “Pierre Toussaint (1766-1853)

  1. Mary Jane r.c.

    I’m looking forward to learning more about Pierre whom I have long admired. Say ‘hi” to Lynn from Chicago where I am this year.
    Sr. Mary Jane Laffan r.c.


  2. Harry warren

    Fr Victor, Just read the life of Piere Toussaint. Oh my, it is very humbling to read the life of such a saint in our own time. One can only hope to be inspired and influenced by a life such as his. Thank you for bringing him to our attention. Hope to see you soon. Harry


  3. Lisa O'Donnell

    Father Victor – This is a wonderful read made all the more sweet by plans of several of us to head to Haiti in July to work at a children’s summer camp. Many thanks to you and Lynn Ballas for preserving and publishing this important work.


  4. vhoagland Post author

    He’s buried under the altar at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. In the spring we could go on a tour of Pierre Toussaint’s New York.


  5. Gloria

    I have read articles about Pierre Toussaint over the years. He was a wonderful saintly man. Thanks to you and Lynn for the digital version.
    I Googled Bishop Dorsey and read about him. I also saw a photo of
    Fr. Xavier on the site. It was a real treat to see his smiling face.


  6. Gloria

    I knew a Haitian lady who cared for a friend of mine during her last illness.
    She was very spiritual, tender-hearted, loving, caring and welcoming. She was at my friend’s wake and funeral, and a few years later she came to my friend’s husband’s wake and funeral. Each time she hugged me when I went
    to visit or saw her at the wakes and funerals, I felt enveloped in love.


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