Born into slavery in 1766 in the French colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti), Pierre Toussaint (French for "All Saints") was brought to New York City by his owners in 1787. He eventually gained his freedom, but rather than taking on a spirit of vengeance for having been enslaved, he lived a life of charity. He had a successful hairdressing business and became a philanthropist to the poor. He died in 1853.
Toussaint is the first layperson to be buried in the crypt below the main altar of St. Patrick's Cathedral on Fifth Avenue, normally reserved for bishops.+
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