The incorrupt body of St. Benedict the Moor, a 16th-century son of slaves who joined the Franciscans and would become the patron saint of African missions, has been all but destroyed after a wildfire engulfed the Sicilian church where he had been interred.
A post shared by the parish of Santa Maria di Gesù showed that the body of the saint, whose dark skin and devotion to the enslaved has made him especially beloved among descendants of slaves, has been mostly incinerated, with only a few bone fragments remaining. The body of Blessed Matthew Agrigento, another Sicilian Franciscan whose body had been kept in the church, was also seriously damaged.
“With tears in our hearts we are very sad to inform you that little is left of the body of St. Benedict the Moor and Blessed Matteo di Agrigento,” the parish said on its Facebook account. “Intercede from heaven for those who are suffering in these hours and for those who are sudden victims of so much disaster!”
More about the saint — who was born the son of slaves in Italy, but freed at birth — from NCR:
St. Benedict the Moor was known for his mild demeanor and his humble spirit. He became the superior of the community of hermits at Montepelligrino, near Palermo even though as the cook for the community, he claimed to be unworthy. That congregation was ordered to disband by Pope Pius IV in 1553 and St. Benedict joined the Franciscan Friars Minor of the Observance. The convent was poor and depended on charity, but there was never a shortage of food. St. Benedict seemed to miraculously multiply their food supply. His reputation for sanctity and miracles soon spread throughout Sicily. He was a very humble man who would sometimes travel at night to avoid being recognized. Throughout his life he endured most of the austerities of his hermit years, always keeping seven Lents per year. Dying at the age of 63, he was cheered on his deathbed by a vision of Saint Ursula. He was canonized in 1589, and chosen patron saint of Palermo.
Wikipedia adds this:
Benedict is remembered for his patience and understanding when confronted with racial prejudice and taunts. He was declared a patron saint of African Americans, along with the Dominican lay brother, Martin de Porres.