Saturday, 16 January 2010
Venerable Pierre Toussaint - an intercessor for Haiti
I was grateful to receive from a correspondent today a reminder of the Venerable Pierre Toussaint who was born into slavery on a Haitian plantation. M. Berard, the plantation owner, moved to New York in 1787 because he could foresee the inevitable rebellion of the slaves that broke out finally in 1791 with the ensuing death of about 100,000 black slaves and 24,000 whites.
In New York, Ven Pierre worked as a hairdresser. He earned enough to buy his freedom but continued in slavery to Madame Berard after her husband died, in order that she would accept his help. One her deathbed, she wrote a directive that he should be freed.
The Ven Pierre could have amassed a considerable fortune through his hairdressing since his customers were among the most wealthy in New York and he was skilled at designing the elaborate hairstyles that were then fashionable. However, he gave away much of his money to the poor and, after his own freedom, secured the freedom of many other slaves.
Haiti has seen many tragedies in its history. The kindly, gentle and generous Pierre Toussaint will surely look kindly on our prayers for his country at this time.
Here is a link to a short biography of Ven Pierre Toussaint.