Black is Beautiful

At this week's Catholic Carnival I learned that November is also known as Black Catholic History Month.

The website mentions Pierre Toussaint, Mother Henriette DeLille, and St. Martin de Porres, but what others can we celebrate?

St. Charles Lwanga

Fr. Augustus Tolton

St. Josephine Bakhita

St. Benedict the Black

St. Moses of Ethiopia

The Archdiocese of Washington shares two startling revelations:

1. Not many people know that King Nzinga-a-Nkuwu Mbemba (Afonso the Good) of the Kongo and his subjects made their profession of faith thanks to the work of Portuguese missionaries one year before Christopher Columbus made his famous voyage in 1492, or that Pope Leo X consecrated the king's son, Henrique, Titular Bishop of Utica in 1518 which was one year before Martin Luther nailed his list of ninety-five theses to the Church in Wittenberg. Bishop Henrique was the first native bishop of West Africa. However, he died in 1531. The Congolese Church and the hopes for an indigenous clergy died with him. Finally, the genocidal slave trade killed true evangelization in sub-Saharan Africa for several centuries.

2. Some people express surprise when they learn that Black Catholic History began in the Acts of the Apostles (8: 26-40) with the conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch by Philip the Deacon. This text is important for several reasons. First, it chronicles the conversion of the first Black person in recorded Christian history. Second, the text suggests that the man was a wealthy, literate, and powerful emissary of the Nubian Queen and also a faithful, practicing Jew prior to his baptism. Clearly, he was not an ignorant heathen. Third, the Ethiopian Eunuch's conversion predates the conversions of Saints Paul and Cornelius. Most significantly, many cite this conversion as the very moment when the church changed from a Hebrew and Hellenist community to the truly Universal and Catholic Church.

You've heard of the KofC, but have you ever met one of the Knights of St. Peter Claver?

And what of the Ethiopian Church today?

The NBC Congress lists all the African-American Bishops serving God's people.

The Josephites are a religious order for men dedicated to serving African-Americans.

Of course, our favorite Black Catholic does the best podcasts ever!

Finally we can join the Black Catholics for Life in praying for the President-elect as he prepares to reverse everything the Bush administration ever accomplished on behalf of the most vulnerable among us, the unborn chattel.

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