THE GOOD NEWS:
GOD HAS SENT HIS SON
SON OF GOD, SON OF MARY,
MYSTERIES OF CHRIST’S LIFE
—CCC, NOS. 422-570
A GOOD MAN IN OLD NEW YORK
“Pierre Toussaint, you are the richest man I know.Why not stop working?”
Pierre Toussaint was born in Haiti in 1766 and raised as a slave at a
time when it was a French colony. A small group of slave owners made
fabulous fortunes from trading sugar, coffee, indigo, tobacco, and fruit.
Seven hundred thousand black slaves, brutally beaten and terrorized,
made this possible.
Baptized and raised a Catholic, Toussaint was one of the lucky ones,
a house slave instead of a farm hand. Treated humanely by the Berard
family, he was brought with them to New York when they fled the upcom-
ing slave rebellion. They arrived around the time that George Washington
was inaugurated as the first president of the United States.
Berard assigned Pierre as an apprentice to a Mr. Merchant, one of the
city’s leading hairdressers. Pierre found he had a talent for this work and
soon became a success at it. Wealthy women spent vast sums to acquire
the elaborate hairstyles of the day. The Berards allowed Pierre to keep a
portion of his earnings.
Back in Haiti the slaves rebelled and drove out the French govern-
ment. An attempt to retake the country by Napoleon’s invasion force
failed. The Berards lost their property and source of income. Berard died
and left his wife without much to live on. Toussaint quietly took over the
support of Mrs. Berard and the household. In gratitude, she freed him