This slipped under the radar last week, when the Triduum was kicking off, but this could be very big news.
Representatives from the Vatican are currently present in the United States investigating miracles related to the cause of Venerable Augustus Tolton, according to reports.
The news was published by an ABC affiliate in Quincy, Illinois—Tolton’s childhood home—on Thursday, April 14th.
“There are two investigators from Rome that are visiting the United States right now and looking into these various miracles,” said Chuck Scholz, a former mayor of Quincy and current member of the Tolton canonization guild.
Tolton, the nation’s first openly-Black Catholic priest, is one of six African-American Catholics on the path to sainthood. His cause was officially opened in 2010 and he is now at the second stage, having been declared “Venerable” by Pope Francis in 2019.
There are presently no beatified (or canonized) African Americans in the Catholic Church, meaning that Tolton’s cause could be the first, should a miracle be approved. Beatification, requiring just one, would accord the title “Blessed” and the de facto status of a saint, usually including the construction of an official shrine and the possibility of becoming the namesake of churches.
Tolton is presently honored in the names of a number of other Catholic institutions, including two schools: Father Tolton High in Missouri’s Diocese of Jefferson City—where Tolton was born in slavery in 1854—and Tolton Catholic Academy in Chicago, the city where Tolton performed much of his ministerial work as a priest.
In 2021, the Archdiocese of Chicago announced that the former St Elizabeth Catholic Church would become the Tolton Heritage Center, a resource center meant to celebrate his legacy, champion local Black Catholicism, serve the poor, and “analyze, name, and confront systemic racism within the Church and city of Chicago”.