Pierre Toussaint was born and raised as a Catholic slave in Haiti when it was still a French colony. To escape the slave rebellions that eventually drove out the French government, Toussaint’s owners fled, with him, to New York. He was assigned as an apprentice to one of the city’s leading hairdressers, and became quite successful. When his slave-owner died, Toussaint quietly supported his owner’s widow. She, in gratitude, freed Toussaint from his slave status. Toussaint later married and used his considerable wealth to support charitable causes, including work against religious and racial prejudice. Toussaint’s death in 1853, at age 87, sparked widespread mourning. Just 13 years ago, Pope John Paul II declared Pierre Toussaint, Venerable- the first step to becoming a saint.
O virtuous Pierre Toussaint, son of Haiti, pray for all the poor and afflicted. Pray especially for your brothers and sisters in Haiti as they seek freedom from the oppression of poverty and calamity. Through your prayerful intercession, strengthen the weak, enrich the poor, comfort the downcast and inspire courage and hope among all those who struggle each day. Amen.