Fugitive Saints: Catholicism and the Politics of Slavery

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Fortress Press, Apr 1, 2017 - Religion - 204 pages

How should the Catholic church remember the sins of its saints? This question proves particularly urgent in the case of those saints who were canonized due to their relation to black slavery. Today, many of their racial virtues seem like racial vices. In this way, the church celebrates Peter Claver, a seventeenth-century Spanish missionary to Colombia, as “the saint of the slave trade,” and extols Martín de Porres as the patron saint of mixed race people. But in truth, their sainthoods have upheld anti-blackness much more than they have undermined it. Habituated by anti-blackness, the church has struggled to perceive racial holiness accurately. In the ongoing cause to canonize Pierre Toussaint, a Haitian-born former slave, the church continues to enact these bad racial habits. This book proposes black fugitivity, as both a historical practice and an interpretive principle, to be a strategy by which the church can build new hagiographical habits. Rather than searching inside itself for racial heroes, the church should learn to celebrate those black fugitives who sought refuge outside of it.  

 

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Contents

Sainthood and Historical Memory
1
Clavers Ministry for Slaveocracy
11
Claver as RaceMaking Ally of Antiblackness Supremacy
23
The Racialized Humility of Peter Claver
37
Reconsidering Claver from Below
53
The Racialized Humility of Saint Martín de Porres
75
Catholic Sainthood and the Afterlife of Slavery
91
Venerable Pierre Toussaint and the Search for Fugitive Saints
121
Toward a Fugitive Hagiography
141
Conclusion
161
Bibliography
163
Index
177
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About the author (2017)

Katie Walker Grimes is assistant professor of theology and religious studies at Villanova University. She has published articles on the relation of white supremacy and the Catholic Church in Political Theology and Horizons, and has articles in the Journal of Religious Ethics. She is a regular contributing author to the blog, Women in Theology.

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