NEW YORK — Scientists have positively identified a skeleton exhumed from a New York cemetery as the remains of a Haitian slave who is a candidate to become America's first black saint, Cardinal John J. O'Connor said Saturday.
A team of archeologists, forensic scientists and anthropologists determined that a skeleton dug up earlier this month was that of Pierre Toussaint, the cardinal said.
Toussaint was born in 1766 and brought to New York at age 21 by his French owners. Still enslaved, he became a leading hairdresser in the city and was allowed to keep some of his income.
Freed in 1807, he bought the freedom of slaves and lavished money on charities, including an orphanage and the city's first school for black children.
He is considered the founder of Catholic Charities because he helped the needy for 66 years when no formal systems of assistance existed.