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St. Benedict - The Moor

St Benedict, known as "The Moor", (1524 – 1589) was born in Messina, Italy. He was an Italian saint of Sicily who is venerated in the Catholic and Lutheran churches. Born of Moorish African slaves, he was freed at birth and became known for his charity. As a young man he joined a Franciscan hermite group and became their leader. He is the patron saint for African and black missions and black people.


San Benedetto in Italian, he was born to Christopher and Diana Manasseri, Africans who were taken as slaves in the early 16th century to San Fratello (also known as San Fradello or San Philadelphio), a small town near Messina, Sicily. They were given Italian names and later were converted to Christianity. The Italian "il Moro" for "the dark skinned" has been interpreted as referring to Moorish heritage. Because of his appearance, Benedict was also called Aethiops or Niger (both referring to black skin color and not the modern-day countries.)

Benedict's parents were granted freedom for their son before his birth because of their "loyal service". Like most peasants, Benedict did not attend any school and was illiterate. During his childhood and youth, he worked alongside his family for meager wages. He was quick to give what he had earned to those needier and to the sick. When he was 21 years old, he was publicly insulted for his color. His patient and dignified bearing at this time was noted by the leader of a group of Franciscan hermits. Benedict was quickly invited to join that order, and shortly thereafter he gave up all his earthly possessions and joined local hermits in Monte Pellegrino. He eventually became leader of that group.

In 1564, when Pope Pius IV disbanded the orders of hermits, ordering them to attach themselves to a religious community, Benedict moved to Palermo to the Franciscan Friary of Saint Mary. Benedict started at the friary as a cook, but was soon elected guardian He advanced to novice master, although he was a lay brother rather than a priest and was illiterate.

Benedict accepted the promotion, and successfully helped the order adopt a stricter version of the Franciscan monastic rule. Benedict was widely respected for his deep, intuitive understanding of theology and the Holy Scripture; he was often sought for counseling. He also had a reputation as a healer of the sick. Combined, these characteristics continued to draw many visitors to him, even after he returned to kitchen duty in his later years.

He died at the age of 65 and, it is claimed, on the very day and hour he predicted. At the entrance of his cell in the Franciscan Convent of Saint Mary of Jesus, there is a plaque with the inscription: "This is the cell where Saint Benedict lived, and the dates of his birth and death - 1524 and 1589". Those dates should be considered as the correct dates of his birth and death. Other sources suggest he was born in 1526. For instance, in a New York Times review of the 2012 exhibit, Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe, at the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore, Maryland, his birth date is given as 1526.


Benedict was beatified by Pope Benedict XIV in 1743 and canonized in 1807 by Pope Pius VII. It is claimed that his body was found incorrupt upon exhumation a few years later.

A patron saint of African Americans, Benedict is remembered for his patience and understanding when confronted with racial prejudice and taunts. In the United States, at least seven historically-black Roman Catholic parishes bear his name, in the following cities: Washington, DC]], New York City, two in Chicago - St. Benedict the African, East and St. Benedict West)}; in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in North Omaha, Nebraska, and.Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Capuchins in Milwaukee's St. Benedict the Moor serve a meal for the homeless six days a week as part of a ministry to reach out to transient, disfranchised and isolated people.

St. Benedict the Moor Catholic Church, established in 1874 and located in the Historical District of Savannah, Georgia, is the oldest Catholic Church for African Americans in Georgia and one of the oldest in the Southeastern United States. Churches named for him have been founded in Columbus, Georgia and St. Augustine, Florida.


The devotion to Saint Benedict is spread throughout Latin America, from Mexico through Argentina. In Venezuela, particularly, his devotion is spread through the country's various states, and he is celebrated on many different dates, according to the local traditions.

The text in this box was generated from a Wikipedia article, which is released under the CC-BY-SA.

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Title: 4' Carved Wood Or Marble Statue Of St. Benedict The Moor
Item Number: KRNM-A691
KRMUS-691: Hand carved wood statue of St. Benedict The Moor with high relief details. Shown with an extra rich finish, can also be painted or polychromed to your specific...
Title: 4' Carved Wood Or Marble Statue Of St. Benedict The Moor
Item Number: KRNM-A702
KRMUS-702: Hand carved wood statue of St. Benedict The Moor with high relief details. Shown with an extra rich finish, can also be painted or polychromed to your specific...