I am a Jesuit priest of the New England Province who serves as pastor of the English speaking Latin-rite Catholics in Jordan, of the Jerusalem diocese. I lived in Australia and New Zealand, then directed retreats at Eastern Point in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Jordan.
Friday, June 16, 2017
Benedict the Moor
This summer I will work at a parish in Omaha, Nebraska called St. Benedict the Moor parish. I've not read much about this saint so I decided to look him up today.
St Benedict the Moor
St Benedict the Moor 1526 – 1589
St Benedict the Black was the son of Negro slaves who were taken from Africa to San Fratello, Sicily, where they were converted to Christianity. They lived such exemplary lives and fulfilled their
duties so thoroughly that their owner, in appreciation, granted freedom to their eighteen-year-old son, Benedict. He continued to work as a day laborer, generously sharing his small wages with the poor and spending his free time in caring for the sick. Because of his lowly origins, St Benedict the Moor was often the object of ridicule, which he bore so patiently and cheerfully that he was called even during his youth, “The Holy Black.”
When twenty-one years of age, he became acquainted with Jerome Lanze, a nobleman who had left the world to live under the rule of St Francis of Assisi. Benedict sold his few possessions, gave the money to the poor and joined the monastic group at San Fratello, later moving with them to Palermo. For many years he was happily employed in the kitchen as a lay brother at the Friary of St Mary of Jesus, but upon the death of his director, he was chosen the guardian of the friary, even though he could neither read nor write. After serving one term in this office, he was chosen novice master, his counsels being eagerly sought by the novices, professed religious and people of every class. He possessed extraordinary gifts of prayer, was divinely given an infused knowledge of the Scriptures, and had an intuitive grasp of deep theological truths, which astounded learned men and aided him in the direction of souls.
The reports of his sanctity spread throughout Sicily, and the monastery was constantly beset with visitors – the poor requesting alms, the sick in search of a miracle, and people of all ranks seeking advice or prayers.
St Benedict's face was often seen to shine with a celestial light, especially when he was praying in the chapel. He was employed as a cook, but it was noted that angels were seen assisting him in the kitchen and than, moreover, food seemed to multiply miraculously under his hands.