Catholics Push Sainthood for First Black US Priest

Rev. Augustus Tolton led Chicago mission
By Will McCahill,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 17, 2010 8:10 PM CDT
John Augustine Tolton.   (Wikimedia Commons)

(Newser) – Chicago’s Roman Catholic leader is making a case that the faith’s first known black priest in the US should be made a saint, with Cardinal Francis George today asking a commission to bring the Vatican evidence of the “heroic virtues” of the Rev. Augustus Tolton. Tolton, the son of escaped slaves, was ordained in Rome in 1886—no American seminary would do it—and sent to head a mission for Chicago’s African-American community in 1894.

“Hallelujah,” was a grand-niece’s reaction when given the news by the Tribune. “To be born into slavery and become a priest and have the honor to be called a saint is just awesome.”

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