Who Was the First Black Saint?

100 Amazing Facts About the Negro: We know his name, and why a Swiss resort town is named after him.

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Finally, the well-known Swiss resort town of St. Moritz -- known since ancient times for the healing powers of its therapeutic springs, and today for skiing and other winter sports -- takes its name from this black saint.

And how did Joel A. Rogers, author of the 1934 book (and the inspiration for this current series), fare on the question of the first black saint? Rogers was all over this one!

The frontispiece of 100 Amazing Facts About the Negro consists of three images, two of Saint Maurice, whom he identifies as the "celestial saint of Germany" and "a pure Negro," in Amazing Fact No. 53. Rogers also correctly states that Maurice was a member of a Roman legion and was martyred in Switzerland (Gaul) in the third century A.D. for refusing to kill Christians. Home run.

As always, you can find more "Amazing Facts About the Negro" on The Root, and check back each week as we count to 100.

Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and the director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at Harvard University. He is also the editor-in-chief of The Root.

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