Black Catholic History Month was established in 1990 through the advocacy of the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus. During the same year, the first celebration of Black Catholic History Month began in November in various cities in the United States with the celebration of St. Martin de Porres’ Feast Day. On November 3rd of that year, a liturgy celebrated the 150th anniversary of St. Martin’s transition to eternal life.
In the world today there are more than 200 million people of African descent in the Roman Catholic Church.
The reason for the selection of November to celebrate Black Catholic History is the number of important dates within this month:
- Nov. 1 – All Saints Day – an opportunity to review the lives of saints of African descent living in the first 300 years of Church history;
- Nov. 2 – All Souls Day – a time to remember the Africans lost in cruel treatment in the Middle passage crossing the Atlantic Ocean;
- Nov. 3 – Feast of St. Martin de Porres, the only saint of African descent in this hemisphere;
- Nov. 20 – the death of Zumbi Palmares in Brazil, the South American founder of a free state for blacks.
Black Catholic History Month is a time for us to celebrate the contributions of black Catholics to the Roman Catholic tradition.
Check out these resources:
- Learn about several Black Catholics who are in the process of becoming saints
- History of the Oblate Sisters of Providence, the Baltimore-based community of sisters founded as the first sustained order for black women
- Information about the Josephites, the Baltimore-based religious society that ministers to the African-American community
- Timeline of Black Catholic History from the National Black Catholic Congress
- Recommended reading from the USCCB about inspiring African Americans