Black Catholic History Awareness Month (Books And Resources)

Did you know that the month of November is Black Catholic History Awareness Month? Because I didn’t! But it’s always great to learn something new! I am so happy to have an opportunity to shine a spotlight on some very amazing black Catholics including Saints, Venerables, and even Mary apparitions. You can find all my resources on November feast days here. Let’s take a look at how we can observe black Catholic history awareness month.

I think having a history awareness month for black Catholics is a great idea, especially since the percentage of black canonized Saints is small in comparison to the overall number of canonized Saints.

I would also just like to add here that unless we have photographs of the person, there’s no way for us to definitively know what they looked like, and many Saints and holy heroes died before cameras were even invented, so in a lot of cases we have to make assumptions of the person’s appearance based on where the person was from, and that’s the best we can do. 

You can find a really great printable about Black Catholic History Month here.

How Many Black Saints Are There?

 I was able to find a list of Saints from Africa that included 102 canonized Saints. I have no way to knowing if this list is all inclusive, maybe some were missed, but in comparison to the over 10,000 canonized Catholic Saints, the percentage is very small! In fact, that is just 1.02% of canonized Saints being from Africa! 

A lot of these African Saints are not well known, which is why it’s a great idea to bring some awareness to their stories in November. Furthermore, some Saints that were from Africa are often depicted as white in artwork, so sometimes we don’t even know which Saints actually were black! This is a great opportunity to educate ourselves. 

There Are No African American Saints

We currently have about a dozen canonized Saints that lived in the USA, and none of them were black. So in actuality, there are no African American Saints at all. Hopefully this is something that changes in the future. 

Ways To Celebrate Black Catholic History Awareness Month

Ok, let’s look at some ways to observe this amazing month. 

  • Challenge your family to learn about 1 black Catholic each week or day in November (books to help with that below)
  • Support a black Catholic mission
  • Make sure that your Saint collection is diverse. So if you have Saint peg dolls, make sure you have some black Saint peg dolls. If you have Saint books, make sure this includes some black Saints. If you have Saint holy cards, make sure you have some black Saint holy cards. This could be the perfect opportunity to boost your collections! 

Books On Black Catholic History

The best way to observe this month is to learn about black Catholic history, and I found some books that might help you out. I was hoping to find some of these through the library loaning system, but was unsuccessful. What a bummer! I very often get Saint books through the library system but I found nothing in my system for this topic. So I ordered some of them instead. 

Disclaimer: links are affiliates, meaning I earn a small commission if you click through and purchase with no extra expense to you.

African Saints: Saints, Martyrs, and Holy People From The Continent Of Africa. I personally think this book looks beautiful and I ordered one! I did see a review saying it included holy people from other faiths that weren’t Catholic, so just so you’re aware.

African Saints, African Stories: 40 Holy Men And Women. I think this book looks so cool! What a great book to shed light on African Catholics. 

Our Lady Of Kibeho: Mary Speaks To The World From The Heart Of Africa. Read about this beautiful Marian apparition from Africa. 

Saint Bakhita Of Sudan: Forever Free. A cute little picture book for kids with the story of St. Josephine Bakhita

Saint Martin de Porres: Humble Healer. A book for kids telling the story of St. Martin de Porres.

Definitely check out St. Martin de Porres: Rose In The Desert. What beautiful illustrations this book has!

Thea Bowman: Faithful And Free. She was the grandaughter of slaves and converted to Cathoicism on her own at age 9. What a cool story!

Augustus Tolton: The Church Is The True Liberator. A book about the first African American priest to be ordained in the USA! 

Black Catholic Saint Resources

If you have this Picture Book Of Saints that I often recommend as a starter Saint book for families, there are 2 black Saints included. I know it’s not a ton, but I have encountered many Saint books for children that have no diversity whatsoever, and this book includes other Saints of color as well. Here are the black Saints you can find in this book:

  • St. Josephine Bakhita, page 126
  • St. Martin de Porres, page 102

ALSO, there is an African Saint in the book that is portrayed in the picture as white but was most probably black, which is St. Augustine. It also mentions St. Monica, his mother, who was also most likely black. These 2 Saints stories are always told together, so it’s really 2 for 1. 

  • Saints Augustine and Monica, page 82

Look To Him And Be Radiant has a free printable resource to pray a litany of black Saints. You can print one that’s already filled in, and you can also print one that’s ready to go! 

Some Well Known Black Saints

Just like with any Saints, it’s easiest to find resources on the ones that are the most well known. For instance, you will find a lot more resources to celebrate St. Therese than St. Lydia. So when looking for resources on black Saints, it might help to look for some of them directly.

I have a whole post devoted to St. Martin de Porres resources for kids including videos, books, crafts, pritnables, and more. Also, his feast day is November 3, so celebrating this feast day would be a great way to kick off the month of November. 

You can find my full round up of St. Josephine Bakhita resources for kids here. This includes a free printable coloring page that I drew! 🙂 

In my All Saints’ Day pack, I do have a printable St. Perpetua and Felicity craft for kids. I love how these little Saints stand up on their own!

More holy men and women- there are many steps before canonized Sainthood that can include being a servant of God, a venerable, or a blessed. Here are some inspiring black Catholics that have yet to be canonized. 

Black Popes

There have been some African popes! You can read about them here.

Black Depictions Of Mary

Did you know that when Mary appears to someone, she appears in their own color and culture? That’s why we have so many beautiful depictions of Our Lady! Check out these black Marian apparitions and devotions. 

I have a printable Our Lady of Kibeho stand up craft here. This one is so great because it’s the only Vatican-approved Marian apparition from the entire continent of Africa! This pack comes with a coloring page and 2 versions of the craft. 

More Diversity Resources For Catholics

Did you know there is an African American Catholic Youth Bible? I love the Catholic Youth Bible and I love that they offer an African American Version!

For younger kids, I fully recommend the Jesus Storybook Bible! Not only are the characters beautiful and diverse but this book is also offered in a big variety of various languages! It’s my favorite children’s bible. You can read more of my thoughts on the Jesus Storybook Bible here.

You can also check out my round up of books about diversity and racism for Christian kids. There’s some really good stuff here!

This is so important to remember! You can’t show up to Religious Education class and only bring supplies for some skin colors. You can check out my list of diverse craft supplies for kids here. These are worth investing in! They will pair well with my Jesus Loves The Little Children diversity crafts for kids.

Further Reading On Black Saints

Saints from Africa

Famous Black Catholics

Black Catholic Saints And Martyrs

Black Catholic Awareness Month

You can find all of my resources for living the liturgical year in November here.

Comments

  1. Thank you so much for gathering all these resources in one post! I love how you have celebrated diversity within our Catholicism! I don’t have any biological children and my step kids are grown up now, but will pass this along to my nephews who are doing virtual Sunday School.

  2. There are some african americans whose cause for canonization are underway that you didn’t mention here.

    Here’s a link to an article about it: https://www.ncregister.com/features/african-american-sainthood-causes-everyday-holiness

    Fr. Josh Johnson (makes videos for Ascension Press) helped run a conference on these people a few years back.

  3. Thanks, Lacy, appreciate the research! I did not know about all of these and it’s a gift to learn more.
    Another to share with your readers is Servant of God, Julia Greeley. She was a freed African slave who moved to the Denver area and in her humility, served the poor and advanced the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
    Her cause canonization has been opened.

    https://juliagreeley.org/

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