Contemporary line portrait of Venerable Augustus Tolton, born into slavery in Missouri in 1854. His family eventually escaped to freedom in the north and lived in Illinois. Despite being raised Catholic by his mother and the strong support of the a local Irish immigrant priest he still faced discrimination by fellow Catholics who objected to a black student being taught at their schools. Feeling drawn to the priesthood, he was rejected by every American seminary and was forced to go abroad to Italy in order to complete his studies and eventually was ordained there in 1886.
He was sent back to the US and though he had years of considerable difficulty and prejudice from all sides was successful in ministering to the Black Catholic community in Chicago, though sources say that the pews of his church were filled with faithful of all races. Father Tolton was also known for his singing voice and musical talent in playing the accordion.
(The reason Venerable Augustus Tolton is shown here without a halo is that he has not yet been declared a Blessed by the Church, it is my own artistic choice to wait until that is official before including it. Please continue to pray for Father Tolton's intercession for our nation!!)
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