Some years before Bishop Norbert Dorsey, CP died in 2013, I mentioned to him that I appreciated the doctoral thesis he wrote at the Gregorian University in Rome on Pierre Toussaint and thought it should be published so that more could know this remarkable man who came as a slave from Haiti to New York City shortly after the end of America’s Revolutionary War.
He told me to do what I could with it, and now it’s available in digital form, thanks principally to Lynn Ballas, who so competently and generously edited and formatted the bishop’s work.
Toussaint deserves to be known. As a black man and a slave, he was part of New York City’s population that went for years unnoticed and unrecognized. As a Catholic, he belonged to a church that was a suspect minority in New York City after the American Revolution.
Women belonging to New York City’s Protestant establishment were the first to bring Toussaint’s simple, delicate goodness to public attention. They noticed holiness in the hairdresser who had become a vital part of their lives and suggested to his church that there was a saint in their midst.
Toussaint’s remains lie today in the crypt under the main altar of New York City’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral, an honored member of his church. It usually takes time before someone is canonized by the Catholic Church, but one requirement is that people be inspired by the witness of his or her holiness and drawn to become holy themselves.
You can read Bishop Dorsey’s book about Pierre Toussaint by clicking the link below. May his holy life inspire you and draw you to God who blessed this faithful man.