Saint Benedict the Black

Saint Benedict the BlackAlso known as

  • Benedict of Palermo
  • Benedict of San Philadelphio
  • Benedict of Sanfratello
  • Benedict the African
  • Benedict the Moor
  • Benedetto il Moro



His parents, Christopher and Diana, were slaves who had been taken from Africa to Sicily. Benedict was granted his freedom at age 18, but remained as an employee of his former master. Scorned and mocked by others as poor as himself, due to his origin and skin, he retained a natural cheerfulness.

He met with, and became enamored of a group of Franciscan hermits near Palermo. Benedict sold what little he had, gave away the money to the poor, and joined this group. Novice master and reluctant superior of the friars in Palermo. When his term ended, he happily returned to working in the friary kitchen. Benedict never referred to possessions as “mine” but always “ours.” He had gifts for prayer and the guidance of souls. His humility and cheerfulness set an example that helped reform his order. On his death, King Philip III of Spain paid for a special tomb for the simple friar.

Benedict was not a Moor, but the Italian “il Moro” for “the Black” has been misinterpreted as referring to a Moorish heritage.



  • 1589 of natural causes
  • body reported incorrupt when exhumed several years later




MLA Citation

  • “Saint Benedict the Black“. CatholicSaints.Info. 17 September 2021. Web. 9 December 2021. <>