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Tolton sainthood cause advances; next step would be ‘venerable’ decree

The canonisation cause for Fr Augustus Tolton is just one step away from going to Pope Francis for the priest to be declared “venerable.”

On 5th February, the feast of St Agatha, a nine-member Vatican theological commission unanimously voted that Fr Tolton’s cause be moved forward to the cardinals and archbishops in the Congregation for Saints’ Causes for a final vote to send a decree of the priest’s “heroic virtues” to Pope Francis for his approval.

Upon the promulgation of that decree, Fr Tolton would receive the title “venerable,” which indicates he lived the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity and the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance at a heroic level.

The next steps would be beatification and canonisation. In general, one miracle attributed to the sainthood candidate’s intercession is needed for beatification, and a second such miracle is needed for canonisation.

Fr Tolton, the first African-American to be ordained a Catholic priest for the United States, was born into slavery, ordained in 1886 in Rome because no US seminary would take him and died serving in Chicago in 1897.

Picture: Fr Augustine Tolton, also known as Augustus, is pictured in an undated photo. Born into slavery in Missouri, he was ordained a priest on 24th April 1886, in Rome, and said his first Mass at St Peter’s Basilica. He served as parish priest of St Joseph Church in Quincy, Ill., and later established St Monica’s Church in Chicago. A theological commission has unanimously recognised his “virtuous and heroic life,” advancing his sainthood cause and moving him one step closer to being declared “venerable” by Pope Francis. (CNS photo/courtesy Archdiocese of Chicago Archives and Records Center).