Support the Café

Search our Site

Pauli Murray celebrated as Episcopal saint

Pauli Murray celebrated as Episcopal saint

The first African-American female priest in the Episcopal Church was elevated to sainthood this summer, and yesterday, a crowd gathered to honor her at the church where she worshiped as a child. The Rt. Rev. Michael B. Curry, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, was celebrant at the service.

From in Durham, N.C.:

By the time the incense began burning to start the traditional service at St. Titus Episcopal Church Wednesday night, 300 people had crowded into a space capable of seating 100.

At the fourth annual celebration of Pauli Murray’s life at St. Titus, community members crowded the church Murray worshipped at as a young girl to celebrate her new status as an Episcopal saint.

“There’s a particular interest all over town and people are really hungry to know more about it,” St. Titus Deacon Sarah Woodard said.

Murray was a leader in civil, women’s, labor and LGBT rights. She also published literary works, such Proud Shoes: The Story of an American Family, in 1956.

In 1977, Murray was ordained as the first female African-American Episcopal priest.

The Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina announced Murray’s sainthood earlier this month along with the addition of Virginia Dare and Manteo to the Episcopal Church Liturgical Calendar.

Each year, July 1 will be a day to remember and celebrate Murray’s work and accomplishments.

Read entire story here. Read an account from the Durham Herald-Sun here.


Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Bill Dilworth

As a matter of fact, Clint, according to the “Guidelines and Procedures” I alluded to above the sort of local cultus you mention is supposed to exist before inclusion in the wider calendar is considered (743). That this, and the principle that “Baptism is…a necessary prerequisite for inclusion in the Calendar” (742) have been ignored points to a profound disconnect between the theory we’ve laid out as a Church and its implementation.

Another potential problem is the disregard for the principle called “Perspective” on p 743 – that two generations or 50 years should separate a person’s death and inclusion in the calendar. Just in the edition authorized by GC2009 there are 17 commemorations and proposed commemorations that didn’t meet that standard. I’m not arguing that those who don’t meet that standard – like Pauli Murray – shouldn’t be included absolutely, but 17 is a high enough answer for it to seem that we haven’t taken that standard very seriously.

Clint Davis

Bill, I have a gut feeling that if we start using the language about this that the rest of the catholic churches use, and really mean it, then folks will be somewhat more reluctant to propose adding a person to The List. Some folks like the way these saints make them feel, or like the way adding these saints make them feel, and would find a good ol fashioned process of discernment and investigation somewhat inconvenient for their feelings. I know little about our process in this matter, but it looks as if we are a little too willing to just vote and add. Perhaps a couple of intermediate steps, such as local veneration first, then perhaps diocesan veneration before being submitted to the wider Church, or what have you. Perhaps “blessed” is appropriate until we see that other parts of the Communion have recognized the holiness of the person so elevated. We can all get behind a St. Nicholas Ferrar or a St. David Oakerhater; but some of the rest, well, we’ll have to see. We don’t need a holy inquisition about this, but an innate skepticism about canonizing someone should be the norm. There has to be more “holy manna showered all around” than just some good feelings about a good person.

Bill Dilworth

It’s funny – I don’t have much use for several aspects of HWHM, but after reading the material before and after the propers themselves, my opinion of the people who worked on it improved greatly (although it’s odd that several of the newer proposals for inclusion seem to clash with that material, and in some cases made it in in flagrant disregard of the “Guidelines and Procedures for Continuing Alteration of the Calendar of the Episcopal Church” beginning on p. 742).

Jesse Zink

God bless different perspectives! I guess we see now why we’re having such debate about Holy Women, Holy Men in the church!


Bill Dilworth

Oh, pooh, Jesse. Of course they’ve been elevated, if only in the Church’s consciousness. We can’t really have it both ways – assigning days in the calendar, writing collects and assigning propers for them on the one hand, and claiming they’re nothing special, everyone’s a saint, nothing to see here, move along, on the other. These people are not just saints in the NT sense of the word. I may be a NT saint, but I don’t have a feast day in the calendar, no collect written for me, and no churches are likely to be named after me any time soon.

Canonization, even in the RCC, doesn’t imply a change in the saints’ eternal status, but a recognition of a status they already have; any elevation involved is as a public example, and declaring them worthy of honor and imitation. Which is what putting them in LFF or HWHM does, call it what you will.

Whether one traces the word “canonize” to adding someone’s name to the canon of saints, or applying a standard – a canon – of holiness to their lives to see if they measure up, we do indeed canonize folk, and maybe that’s the term we ought to start using.

Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café