Vatican City, Jun 22, 2023 / 05:37 am
Pope Francis has advanced the sainthood cause of Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange, a Black religious sister who founded the country’s first African American religious congregation in Baltimore in 1829.
The recognition of Lange’s heroic virtue and the advancement of her cause from servant of God to venerable was announced by the Vatican in a decree signed on June 22. The Church will now need to approve a miracle attributed to her intercession before she can be beatified.
Elizabeth Lange, as she was named, immigrated to the United States from Cuba in the early 1800s. Recognizing the lack of education for the children of her fellow Black immigrants, with a friend she established St. Frances Academy in her own home and with her own money to offer free schooling to Baltimore’s African American children.
With the support of Baltimore Archbishop James Whitfield, she founded a school for “girls of color” and then the Oblate Sisters of Providence, the first religious community for women of African descent.