November is Black Catholic History Month

The Establishment of Black Catholic History Month

The National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus (NBCCC) of the United States voted on Tuesday, July 24, 1990, while meeting in convention at Fordham University in New York, to establish November as Black Catholic History Month. The reason behind the selection of the month of November was the number of important dates to Catholics of African descent that fell within this month.

  • Nov. 1 All Saints Day: an opportunity to review the lives of the hundreds of Saints of African descent in the first 300 years of the Church.
  • Nov. 2 All Souls Day: a time to remember all those African lost to cruel treatment in the Middle Passage crossing of the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Nov. 3 Martin de Porres became the first black American saint. He was canonized by Pope John XXIII on May 16, 1962. Throughout his life, St. Martin de Porres exemplified God’s love for all people, regardless of their level in society.
  • Nov. 13 The birth of St. Augustine in 354 A.D., the first Doctor of the Church from North Africa.
  • Nov. 20 The death of Zumbi of Palmares in Brazil, South American founder of a free state for Blacks.

The First Black Catholic History Month

The first celebration of Black Catholic History Month began in November of 1990 in various cities in the United States with the celebration of St. Martin de Porres Feast day. The liturgy celebrated the 350th anniversary of St. Martin’s transition from this life to eternal life. In Detroit on this day in 1990, Archbishop Adam Maida, the local Archbishop, was the celebrant for the Mass. Also present was the President of the NBCCC, Bro. Roy Smith, OSC. The Mass was held at St. Anthony Church.

In the world today there are 200 million people of African descent in the Roman Catholic Church throughout the world.

Augustus Tolton

Father Augustus Tolton, baptized Augustine Tolton, and was the first Roman Catholic priest in the United States publicly known to be black. A former slave who was baptized and reared Catholic, Tolton studied formally in Rome and was ordained in 1886.

The Oblate Sisters of Providence

Learn more about the Oblate Sisters of Providence, the first successful Roman Catholic sisterhood in the world established by women of African descent.

The Society of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart

Learn more about the Society of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart, The Josephites, a religious community of Catholic priests and brothers, committed to serving the African American community through the proclamation of the Gospel and our personal witness.

Black Catholic Saints and Martyrs

Learn more about Black Catholic Saints and Martyrs from the National Black Catholic Congress.

On the Road to Sainthood

Learn more about Black Catholics whose cause for sainthood is now in process.

The Timeline of U.S. Black Catholics

The National Black Catholic Congress presents the timeline of U.S. Black Catholics.

A Celebration of Saints

Learn about Black Saints and other significant figures of the Catholic faith each day of Black Catholic History Month.

The Scillitan Martyrs
The Scillitan Martyrs were the first documented African martyrs. The 12 Christians, seven men and five women, were martyred in 180 in Scillium (in what is present-day Algeria and Tunisia)… Read More
St. Athanasius
St. Athanasius, the great champion of the faith and Doctor of the Church, was born in Alexandria about the year 296, to Christian parents. Educated under the eye of Alexander,… Read More
St. Mary of Egypt
April 1 is the feast of a little-known saint whose story demonstrates the power of the Church as the home of forgiveness, redemption, and mercy. St. Mary of Egypt was… Read More
St. Moses, the Black
Saint Moses, the Black, was a desert monk, born around 330. He was an Ethiopian of great physical strength and unruly character. Moses was a big man and his enormous… Read More
The Ethiopian Eunuch
Did you know one of the first foreigners mentioned in the Bible to be baptized was an African? In the Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 8:26-40, we read the account… Read More
Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Did you know that one of the greatest Bible scholars, Origen, was from ancient Egypt? He was born in 185 AD. Early in his career, Origen became head of the… Read More
Toussaint L’Ouverture
Did you know that a black Haitian Catholic, Toussaint L’Ouverture played a key role in the first successful attempt by a slave population in the Americas and the world to… Read More
St. Anthony of Alexandria
Did you know that a black African Catholic, Saint Anthony of Alexandria, is known as the patriarch of monks? He was born at Aama, a village of Memphis, near Thebes.… Read More
Saint Charles Lwanga
Did you know Catholics from Africa led the way in being witnesses for Christ in the face of grave persecutions? Saint Charles Lwanga was one of the 22 Ugandan martyrs… Read More
Augustus Tolton
Did you know Augustus Tolton, was the first publicly known black Roman Catholic priest in the United States (1886)? A former slave who was baptized and reared Catholic, Tolton studied… Read More

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