Skip Navigation Links
Catholic News
Special Reports
Google Plus
RSS Feeds


Saint of the Day—available on the iPhone!

Saint of the Day
Catholic saints are holy people and human people who lived extraordinary lives. Each saint the Church honors responded to God's invitation to use his or her unique gifts. God calls each one of us to be a saint. Click here to receive Saint of the Day in your email.

May 28
Venerable Pierre Toussaint

Size: A A

Born in modern-day Haiti and brought to New York City as a slave, Pierre died a free man, a renowned hairdresser and one of New York City’s most well-known Catholics.

Pierre Bérard, a plantation owner, made Toussaint a house slave and allowed his grandmother to teach her grandson how to read and write. In his early 20s, Pierre, his younger sister, his aunt and two other house slaves accompanied their master’s son to New York City because of political unrest at home. Apprenticed to a local hairdresser, Pierre learned the trade quickly and eventually worked very successfully in the homes of rich women in New York City.

When his master died, Pierre was determined to support his master’s widow, himself and the other house slaves. He was freed shortly before the widow’s death in 1807.

Four years later he married Marie Rose Juliette, whose freedom he had purchased. They later adopted Euphémie, his orphaned niece. Both preceded him in death. He attended daily Mass at St. Peter’s Church on Barclay Street, the same parish that St. Elizabeth Seton attended.

Pierre donated to various charities, generously assisting blacks and whites in need. He and his wife opened their home to orphans and educated them. The couple also nursed abandoned people who were suffering from yellow fever. Urged to retire and enjoy the wealth he had accumulated, Pierre responded, “I have enough for myself, but if I stop working I have not enough for others.”

He was originally buried outside St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, where he was once refused entrance because of his race. His sanctity and the popular devotion to him caused his body to be moved to St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue.

Pierre Toussaint was declared Venerable in 1996.


Pierre was internally free long before he was legally free. Refusing to become bitter, he daily chose to cooperate with God’s grace, eventually becoming a compelling sign of God’s wildly generous love.


Emma Cary, one of Pierre’s customers, said: “His life was so perfect, and he explained the teaching of the Church with a simplicity so intelligent and courageous that everyone honored him as a Catholic. He would explain the devotion to the Mother of God with the utmost clearness, or show the union of the natural and supernatural gifts in the priest.”

Thursday, May 28, 2015
Saint of the Day for 5/27/2015 Saint of the Day for 5/29/2015

Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.

Listen to "Saint of the Day": Help

Subscribe to "Saint of the Day":

At Home in Persimmon Hollow

Stumble Virtue Vice and the Space Between

Come find us at: Facebook | St. Anthony Messenger magazine Twitter | American Catholic YouTube | American Catholic

An Site from the Franciscans and Franciscan Media Copyright © 1996 - 2015