In celebration of Black Catholic History Month

Did you know that November is Black Catholic History Month?

This month, we’re honoring the men and women from Africa who have pioneered the faith! Many forget that Christianity didn’t start in Europe. Black Catholics have had a huge impact on the history and traditions of Christianity. The church has been celebrating Black Catholic History Month since 1990 when the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus of the United States instigated it. November seemed appropriate because it holds special days for two prominent African Catholics: St. Augustine whose birthday is on November 13, and St. Martin de Porres whose feast day is celebrated on November 3.

Three popes—Saints Victor I, Melchiades, and Gelasius I—were born in Africa and led the early church though much turmoil. There are also many Black Catholic saints (Monica of Hippo, Augustine of Hippo, Perpetua, and Felicitas to name a few) and leaders (such as Rev. Augustus Tolton and Daniel Rudd) whose actions and witnesses of faith helped shape the church into what it is today.

The National Catholic Reporter is highlighting the fascinating history of a different black saint for every day of the month. They are well worth the read. If you want to know more about the history of black Catholics, check out our timeline by Father Cyprian Davis, O.S.B. Also from Father Cyprian, here are five people’s stories that talk about the history of black Catholics. In 2002, the editors of U.S. Catholic also interviewed Father J. Glenn Murray, S.J. who tells us what an African American perspective can contribute to the liturgy.

These are only a few resources for you to take a look at. Read more about the history and traditions and then join us in the celebration of black Catholics!

About the author

Caitlyn Schmid

Caitlyn Schmid worked as assistant editor at U.S. Catholic.