On Sunday, January 15, 2023 at the the 5:00 PM Mass, Fr. Tom blessed a new statue of St. Benedict the Moor which was permanently installed for veneration at the Church of St. Francis of Assisi. Fr. Tom invited members of the St. Benedict the Moor Fraternity of Secular Franciscans from our parish to join him in blessing the image of the saint. This beautiful new statue was donated by members of the St. Benedict the Moor Fraternity and permanently resides in the upper church.
Here is a short biography of St. Benedict provided by Mr. Paul Beelitz, SFO, who is the minister of the St. Benedict the Moor fraternity:
St. Benedict the Moor (1526 – 1589)
St. Benedict the Moor was the child of slaves who were taken from Africa to Sicily and given Italian names. Diana and Cristoforo Manasseri became devout Catholics, and their son Benedict was declared free when he was born in 1526. Benedict’s charitable nature was apparent from the time of his youth when he worked as a shepherd and gave what money he could to the poor. At the age of twenty-one Benedict became a member of a local group of Franciscan hermits. Benedict’s spiritual maturity far outweighed his lack of a formal education, and he became the group’s superior at the age of twenty-eight. In 1564 Pope Pius IV ordered the disparate hermit communities to join established religious orders, and so Benedict’s group joined the Order of Friars Minor at the Franciscan Friary of St. Mary of Jesus in Palermo. Benedict’s reputation as an excellent cook preceded him and he began his years in the Friary in that capacity. Once again, however, Benedict’s theological erudition and patient demeanor propelled him to become Master of Novices and then Guardian of the Community. After years of administrative duties, Benedict asked only to return to the kitchen, where he was visited by people who journeyed from afar for the opportunity to speak to him and benefit from his holiness and wisdom. Benedict died in 1589, having lived his entire life in Sicily.
Benedict was beatified by Pope Benedict the XIV in 1743 and was canonized by Pope Pius VII in 1807. There are St. Benedict the Moor Churches in New York, NY, Savannah and Columbus, GA, Pittsburgh, PA, Milwaukee, WI, Washington, DC, and St. Augustine, FL.
St. Benedict the Moor, whose Feast Day is April 4th, is the patron saint of African Americans.
Photos by Mr. Keith Kemp, parishioner