Ven. Pierre Toussaint — Business Saint!

Sometimes those well-meaning folks who promote multicultural saints kinda leave out huge chunks of their story. We’ve talked about how St. Martin de Porres is promoted in the US as a charitable saint, while in South America he’s more of an animal saint and in Peru he’s that wonderworker who bilocated and teleported other people.

Now, we all know Ven. Pierre Toussaint. Haitian-American slave apprenticed to a hairdresser, who became the best hairdresser in New York. Freed by his owner at her death, he went on to become a very charitable hairdresser.

Except they left out the bit where he had a mini-business empire, as well as a fairly large charity empire. He founded a credit bureau and an employment agency as well, to help the poor get off charity.

They also left out the bit where he was married to a woman he paid to free, and who was his partner in everything, include raising his dead sister’s daughter.

They also left out the bit where he funded huge chunks of Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

They also left out the bit where huge numbers of people of all colors stayed at his house.

I’m not knocking the ‘kind hairdresser’ thing, you understand. But holy cow, that’s a lot of the story to leave out! Is there something wrong with a black American saint’s biography including the line, “Toussaint, you’re the richest man I know”?

As for me, I find it to be a sign of hope that Venerable Pierre Toussaint’s body lies in the crypt beneath the altar of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, in the heart of New York. He was a business saint, and so it is fitting that his relics lend grace to Madison Avenue.



Filed under Church, History

3 responses to “Ven. Pierre Toussaint — Business Saint!

  1. Florence Guiteau

    I’m in desperate need of a relic of Pierre Toussaint, can you please let me know how to obtain one as soon as possilbe….God Bless

    • As far as I can tell, there are not really many relics of Toussaint except his remains, sad to say. His body is buried down at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, along with all the archbishops of New York, and Bishop Fulton Sheen. So if you could visit St. Patrick’s, or get someone you know to visit — I think touching the side of his tomb with a handkerchief or rosary or whatever you like would make the handkerchief or rosary or whatever into a third-class relic. (The logic is that you’re touching it to something that is touching the saint’s remains.) But you might want to ask a priest or someone more knowledgeable, just to be sure.

      The Pierre Toussaint Guild is working on his sainthood cause. So they probably could also get you a third-class relic. Their address is 1011 First Avenue, Room 1316, New York, NY 10022, USA. (That’s at the offices of the Archdiocese of New York.)

      Apparently the New York Public Library holds Toussaint’s papers (which as objects touched by the saint while alive, are themselves second-class relics). If you touched something to one of his papers or other possessions, that object would become a fourth-class relic. (Probably if you just touched something to a display case holding something of his, by the same logic of touching something to the tomb that holds his bones.)

      However, the miracle that may get him beatified occurred after a little boy’s mother just prayed fervently for his intercession. The little boy was cured of scoliosis literally overnight. She didn’t have a relic; she’d just heard about him. So whether you get a relic or not, take courage and have faith.

      I will pray for your intentions.

  2. Paul Michael Phelan

    Peace and goodness,
    I learned of Pierre Toussaint while visiting my ancestor’s grave at St. Patrick’s back in 2008, and was given a lapel button with his image on it. I was being treated for prostate cancer, but I told the Catholic store gentleman, I was going to pray for a miracle for him. Today in 2012, my spine has severe degeneration, and spurs, and bulging discs cause my feet to be very sensitive and numb-like causing my balance to be unsure and I have fallen several times each year. I can walk and drive and use a cane, and am going to see an Orthopedic surgeon for consultation for pain and advice what to do to maintain mobility.
    I too would love to have a Third Degree relic of Pierre Toussaint even a holy card touched to something of his. I have asked the Lord if he would humbly cure my stenosis, that I would do all I could to aid in Pierre’s sainthood, even to the point of getting my trials back after he is canonized. I know that sounds like bargaining, but it is with a sincere and contrite heart, and eight years of looking for something to complete my prayers for him. My ancestors family died of Yellow fever, and a large
    rectangular grave marker with their names on it began my hope for this wonderful l man. Let us all pray for him and all the souls touched by Pierre Toussaint. Amen.

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