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.