St Benedict the Black was the son of Black north Africans who were taken from North Africa and sold into slavery in Sicily. They converted to Christianity, living such exemplary lives of service their master, granted freedom to their eighteen-year-old so. Benedictcontinued to work as a day laborer, generously sharing his small wages with the poor and spending his free me in caring for the sick. Growing up he was the brunt of much racism and ridicule.
At the age of 21 he became acquainted with Jerome Lanze, a nobleman who had given up his title to live under the rule of St Francis of Assisi. Benedict sold his few possessions, gave the money to the poor and joined the monastic group at San Fratello, later moving with them to Palermo. For many years he was happily employed in the kitchen as a lay brother at the Friary of St Mary of Jesus. Upon the death of the Director, he was chosen guardian of the friary, even though he could neither read nor write.
After serving one term in office, he was chosen spiritual director of the novices. It is recorded that he possessed extraordinary gifts of prayer. Was divinely given an infused knowledge of the Scriptures. He had such an intuitive grasp of deep theological truths that learned men were astounded.
Reports of his sanctity spread throughout Sicily, and the monastery was constantly beset with visitors – the poor requesting alms, the sick in search of a miracle, and people of all ranks seeking spiritual direction and prayers.
Although he preferred a quite life he never refused to see anyone. Toward the end of his life he willingly returned to the humble duties of the kitchen. He died after a short illness at the age of sixty-three, at the very hour he had predicted