You’re in New York city in the late 1780s, listening to some gossip from a nearby group of wealthy matrons.
“What a pity the Constitutional Convention did not come here to meet! I do think we are as good as Philadelphia—well, almost anyway,” says one.
“Aye, my dear, we are quite as fashionable, I dare say!” cries another, peeking into a mirror with satisfaction.
“Yes, quite,” says a third. “Why, only yesterday my sister had that wonderful Pierre Toussaint to dress her hair. I dare say there’s no one like him in Philadelphia.”
Ah—Pierre Toussaint, the Haitian hairdresser of New York. Venerable Pierre Toussaint, now.
Toussaint grew up as a house slave in Haiti, where he was educated with his master’s children. The island was colonized by the French, and Toussaint was raised a Catholic.
When political unrest disturbed the island, he was sent to New York with his master’s wife. There he was apprenticed to a hairdresser and quickly became the leading man in his profession.
Clients confided all their troubles to him as he dressed their hair, finding in him an empathetic and comforting listener. They knew that Toussaint—unlike most people—never gossiped about what they told him to other clients. He kept their confidences to himself. Once, when a client pressured him to gossip, Pierre replied that he was a hairdresser, not a news journal!
Every day for sixty years, Toussaint attended daily Mass. When he grew wealthy through his profession, he donated generously to charity and joined ministries to help orphans.
Some people told him to retire and live comfortably off his wealth, but he refused—he must never stop working, he said, because he must always have more to give.
Toussaint did so much in his life that it’s impossible to relate it all here! Fortunately, his wonderful story is told in They Might Be Saints: On the Path to Sainthood in America. You’ll learn all about Pierre Toussaint as well as twenty-three more inspiring Catholic men and women whose works and sacrifices placed them on the road to canonization. Available today at The Catholic Company!