St. Benedict the African (also historically referred to as Benedict the Moor), lived from 1524-1589 and was the freed son of African slaves in Sicily who converted to Christianity. From a very young age, Benedict was known for his holiness and care for the poor. He was invited to join the Franciscan order and, though he never learned to read and was never ordained, he became a lay brother. Benedict was called into leadership positions at the Franciscan Friary in Palermo, and was sought after for his spiritual wisdom as well as his theological and scriptural insights. He is the patron saint of African Americans, and the namesake of the first historically black Catholic Church in the United States located in Savannah, Georgia, (along with several others around the country).
Questions for Reflection:
- Benedict was known for his humility; he easily let go of leadership positions when his term was up and enjoyed most of all cooking in the friary kitchen. Who has been a “servant leader” in your life? When have you seen leaders “washing the feet of others” as Jesus taught us to? How have you washed others’ feet?