Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange, a Black Catholic nun, is one step closer to sainthood.
Known as the founder of the first African American religious congregation in Baltimore in 1829, Lange left Cuba due to racial discrimination and eventually settled in Baltimore where she established a school in 1828, pre-dating the Civil War and the abolition of slavery.
She is one of three Black nuns from the United States who have been identified by Catholic officials as potential candidates for sainthood. The other two are Henriette Delille, who established the Sisters of the Holy Family in New Orleans in and Sister Thea Bowman, a beloved educator, evangelist, and singer who was active until she died in 1990.
The Pope signed a decree recognising Lange’s heroic virtue elevating her from a servant of God to a "venerable servant." This is seen as a historic milestone in the ongoing struggle for Black Catholic saints in the United States.
It is also a step toward recognising the African American Catholic community, particularly its nuns, who have faced numerous challenges throughout history. Currently there are no recognised African American saints.
The next step is for the Catholic Church to approve a miracle attributed to her, which would lead to her beatification.