Sainthood sought for African-American priest

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CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Cardinal Francis George says the nation’s first known black Roman Catholic priest should become a saint.

George announced Wednesday the Archdiocese of Chicago is introducing the Rev. Augustus Tolton’s cause for sainthood. George says he will appoint a commission to assemble facts about Tolton’s “heroic virtues,” which are required for sainthood.

Born into slavery in 1854, Tolton’s family escaped from Missouri as the Civil War began, settled in southern Illinois, and became members of the Catholic Church.

According to the archdiocese, Tolton studied for the priesthood in Rome because no American seminary would accept him. After being ordained in Quincy, Ill., he moved to Chicago to start a parish for black Catholics. He died at age 43, which the church attributes to his visiting the sick.

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