St. Benedict the Moor, Religious
San Fratello (Messina), 1526 – April 4,1589
Copatrono – with Saint Rosalia – the diocese of Palermo, Manassari Benedict was born in San Fratello (Messina) in 1526 to parents descended from African slaves. At 21 he entered into a hermitage and lived in a community on Mount Pellegrino. When Pius IV dissolved the community, he went to the Friars Minor. He lived 24 years in the convent of Santa Maria of Jesus as a cook in Palermo, higher education, master of novices, and returned to his original work as a cook. He died in 1589 was canonized in 1807.
Roman Martyrology: In Palermo, St. Benedict Massarari, known as the Moor due to the color of his skin, who was first a hermit, and then became a religious in the Order of Friars Minor, who was humble and always full of faith in divine Providence.
He was born in 1526 in San Fratello (Messina) to Diana Larcari and Christopher Manassari, Christians descended from slaves brought from Africa. As an adolescent, Benedict guarded the flock of his master, and since then was called the holy moor. For twenty years he was a member of the community of hermits founded near his hometown of Jerome Lanza, who lived under the rule of St. Francis. Where the hermits on Mount Pellegrino moved to live in solitude most, Benedict followed them and, upon the death of Lanza was elected by the brethren above. Pius IV in 1562 withdrew the approval that Julius II had given and invited the religious to enter an order of their choice. Benedict was joined to the Friars Minor, entering the convent of S. Mary of Jesus at Palermo, founded by Blessed Matthew of Agrigento. At first he was sent into the convent of Saint Giuliana Anna, where he remained three years, but then was called to Palermo, where he lived twenty-four years.
He lived in the humble office of a cook with a lot of spirit of sacrifice and supernatural charity to which was also attributed miracles. It was estimated that both in 1578, he, a simple layman, was appointed superior of the convent which he led for three years because of the community with wisdom, prudence and great charity. At the provincial chapter went to Agrigento, where, for his reputation for holiness spread rapidly so he was received with warm expressions of people. Appointed then as master of novices, expectations to his office in order to suggest that had the gift of scrutinizing hearts and finally returned to his original job as a cook. A large number of devotees went to him to consult, among which numbered priests and theologians, and even the viceroy of Sicily, he, always humble and devout, doing double penance, fasting and scourging to draw blood. The process of his canonization related many healings for which he was responsible. He died April 4, 1589.
His cult spread from Sicily in Italy, Spain, in the rest of Europe and also in South America, where he became the protector of those of African descent. The Senate of Palermo in 1713 chose him as patron of the city. Benedict XIV beatified him in 1743 and Pope Pius VII canonized him on May 24, 1807. His feast is celebrated April 4.
Author: Giuseppe Morabito
Source: Santi e Beati