Former Runaway Slave and First African-American Priest, on Path to Becoming First Black American Saint




Pope Francis on Wednesday put Father Augustine Tolton, a former runaway slave and the first African American priest in the United States, on the path to sainthood.

Former Runaway Slave and First African-American Priest, on path to being First Black American Saint

The Vatican said Francis approved a decree recognizing Tolton’s “heroic virtues,” an early step in the sainthood process, after a five-year investigation in Chicago.

Tolton was born in Bush Creek, Missouri on April 1, 1854 into a family of slaves owned by a white Roman Catholic family.

His father escaped bondage by serving in the Union army during the American Civil War and the rest of the family gained freedom in 1862 by crossing the Mississippi River into Illinois, a free state.

Although tutored by Catholics who recognized his intellectual prowess, he had to study for the priesthood at a papal university in Rome because no seminary in the United States would take him.

He was ordained in 1886, becoming the first African-American Catholic priest, and returned to Illinois to serve in black parishes in that state until his death in 1897.

Following investigations by Church historical and theological commissions, the pope on Wednesday granted Tolton the title “Venerable,” meaning that Catholics can pray to him for intercession with God.

One miracle would have to be attributed to Tolton for him to be beatified, the next step in the process, and a second miracle after beatification would be needed in order for him to be declared a saint.

The Church teaches that only God performs miracles but that saints who are believed to be with God in heaven intercede on behalf of people who pray to them. A miracle is usually the medically inexplicable healing of a person.

Former Runaway Slave and First African-American Priest, on path to being First Black American Saint

Tolton was born into slavery in Monroe County, Missouri in 1854 and escaped to Quincy, Illinois with his family during the Civil War. He studied for the priesthood in Rome because no American seminary would accept him on account of his race. He was ordained in 1889 and served for three years at a parish in Quincy, eventually accepting an invitation to come to Chicago where he led St. Monica Parish until his death in 1897.





Uzonna Anele
Anele is a web developer and a Pan-Africanist who believes bad leadership is the only thing keeping Africa from taking its rightful place in the modern world.

Leave a Reply

Subscribe to receive email updates

With a subscription profile, you automatically receive updates without having to return to the website and check for changes

Just In

The Creation Story of the Akamba People of Kenya

In the beginning, Mulungu the creator is said to have formed a man and a woman in heaven before placing them on a rock in on earth, where it is said that their footprints, as well as the footprints of their animals, can still be seen today.

Bussa’s Rebellion of 1816, the Largest Slave Revolt in Barbadian History

The largest slave rebellion in Barbadian history took place during the Bussa uprising in April 1816. The rebellion takes its name from the African-born...

Top 10 Longest Serving Presidents in Africa, 2022

Equatorial Guinea's president Teodoro Obiang is the longest serving president in Africa and the world. He is closely followed by Cameroons President Paul Biya.

Cornelius Frederiks: the Namibian Captain Who Was Locked Up in a Concentration Camp for Fighting Against German Colonialists

Cornelius Frederiks was a Namibian freedom fighter who actively fought a guerrilla-style war against German colonialists during the Herero-Nama war of 1904.

List of African Countries and Their Presidents (2022)

This is a list of African countries and their presidents, heads of state, heads of governments, and other rulers in the year 2022.

More Articles Like This