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Black Catholic Initiative
:: Department of Parish Life and Formation
 Black Saints – June
June 3 – St. Charles Lwanga and Companions
(1886) Martyrs canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1964. The 22 young court servants were martyred for their
faith by the Buganda King Mwanga in 1886. Along with them were 80 young Anglicans.

June 12 – St. Onufphius
(4th century Egyptian hermit).

June 15 – St. Orsiesius
(c. 380 Abbot of Tabennisi Monastery, Egypt)

June 17 – St. Cyril of Alexandria
(ca. 378 – ca. 444)
St. Cyril was the Pope of Alexandria when the city was at the height of its in influence and power within the Roman Empire. Cyril wrote extensively and was a leading protagonist in the Christological controversies of the 4th and 5th centuries. He was a central figure in the Council of Ephesus in 431 which led to the deposition of Nestorius as Archbishop of Constantinople. Cyril is among the patristic fathers, and the Doctors of the Church, and his reputation within the Christian world has led to his acquiring the title “Seal of all the Fathers.”

June 30 – Pierre Toussaint
Pierre Toussaint was born into slavery on the French colony of Saint Domingue. His slave owner, Jean Berard,
encouraged the young Pierre to learn to read and write. In 1787, Berard moved his new wife and several slaves,
including Pierre and his younger sister Rosalie, to New York City. 

As Pierre was establishing a good reputation among New York's elite as a hairdresser, an increasing number of Haitian refugees brought reports of murder and devastation from the island. With the money he had received from the women whose hair he dressed, Pierre bought his sister's freedom. He selflessly decided to remain enslaved, however, thinking he could better care for the recently widowed Madame Berard in that capacity.

Eventually, Madame Berard's health deteriorated. On her deathbed she granted Pierre his freedom. At the age of forty-one, Pierre was a free man. It was as a free man that he married the woman he loved, Juliette Noel, whose freedom he had purchased. Like Pierre Toussaint, Juliette had begun her life in the “New World” as a slave in Haiti. Together they continued charitable work Pierre had begun informally, helping refugees find jobs and caring for orphans. The couple opened a school to teach Black children a trade. When the plague struck New York, Pierre personally cared for the victims. When Pierre's sister, Rosalie, died leaving an orphaned young daughter, Euphemia, Pierre and Juliette welcomed her into their home.

In 1851, Pierre, who was eighty-five, suffered the last and greatest sorrow of his life when his beloved Juliette died. He died two years later on June 30, 1853, and was buried in a New York cemetary next to Juliette and Euphemia.

In 1968, the long process to canonize Pierre Toussaint as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church began. In 1990, his body was moved to a crypt under the main altar of St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. In view of his lifelong commitment to helping others, Pierre Toussaint is credited as a founder of Catholic charitable works in the United States.