Proving Tolton worthy of sainthood

A Father Tolton statue outside of St. Peter's School in Quincy

The road to becoming a Catholic saint is long, especially after facing the oppression of slavery.

One of Quincy's priests may become the first African American saint.

Augustus Tolton holds the title of Servant of God which is the first step in the canonization process.

Bishop Joseph Perry of the

Archdiocese of Chicago

is responsible for investigating Tolton's life and proving him worthy of sainthood.

"He is going through a process where any of his writings are examined. His documents are examined because the church looks for heresies, and if he wrote anything heretical, it would call into question the process of a priest going to sainthood."

The next step of the process is exhumation, which is where they dig up his body to check its condition.

"He most likely was not embalmed. Most likely it was a wooden casket and we are talking 1897. They wont find anything. Maybe a piece of bone or maybe a passing button or rosary or something that wouldn't deteriorate."

Once the body is identified as Augustus Tolton, the committee will examine a miracle of Tolton's. If they can prove it happened, Tolton would be called "Venerable," which is the next step on the road to sainthood.

"At the time of a rather critical point in this patient's collapse, a group of people here and in Quincy began praying to God through Tolton's intercession for this person to be helped, saved, rescued, whatever, and it seems that approximate to the recovery of the individual, those prayers were answered."

Tolton requested to have his body buried in Quincy. After the exhumation process, his remains will be moved to a shrine in his name. Bishop Perry says the shrine will most likely be located at Saint Boniface Church.

Bishop Perry is unsure about how long the canonization process is expected to take, but he says that since everything in Tolton's life is a written history, that things will move relatively quickly.

The exhumation process is expected to take place this upcoming year.