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This thesis examines the Church of St. Benedict the Moor from 1883 to 1920. St. Benedict's was the first black Catholic church in the North. I argue that supporters of the Catholic mission to African Americans sought to incorporate the assumptions of black religiosity in order to render Catholicism as a legitimately black religion. The institutional history of St. Benedict's demonstrates the difficulties that the Catholic Church faced in attempting to overcome African American suspicion. A key contribution of this thesis is its approach to black Catholicism as a contested and propagated identity. Prompted by St. Benedict's creation in New York, black Catholics, Irish priests, freethinking radicals, and Protestants all participated in a dialogue over the nature and function of black religion vis-à-vis Catholicism.
African American Religion, American Catholicism, Black Catholicism
Date of Defense
March 28, 2014.
A Thesis submitted to the Department of Religion in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts.
Includes bibliographical references.
John Corrigan, Professor Directing Thesis; Amanda Porterfield, Committee Member; Aline Kalbian, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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