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Peter was born in 1581 in Catalonia in Spain. He joined the Society of Jesus when he was twenty, and was sent to further his studies at the college of Montesione in Majorca. There he met St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, who predicted Peter would go to the West Indies and save souls.

At his request, in 1610 he was sent to the South-American port city of Cartagena in modern-day Colombia, to complete his theological studies, and was there ordained to the priesthood in 1615.

At the time, Cartagena was the main slave market of the New World. Africans by the thousands were being shipped in from the Congo and Angola and it was estimated that one third of them died in transit due to their harsh treatment and the foul conditions of the voyage.

Other Jesuits had been working among them prior to Peter’s arrival in 1610, but whereas they visited the slaves where they worked, Peter met them at the wharf.

Most often he boarded the slave ships before they even docked, going down into their filthy and disease-ridden holds to treat the terror-stricken human cargo.  Infants and the dying, he would baptize immediately; to the others he offered food, clothing and medical assistance; with the help of interpreters, he taught them about the sacraments and how to pray, educating them in the Catholic faith before baptizing them.

In the course of forty years, Peter instructed and baptized over 300,000 slaves.

When making his solemn profession as a Jesuit religious in 1622, Peter signed the document in Latin as was the custom, and added the phrase, “aethiopum semper servus” – servant of the Ethiopians (i.e. the Africans ) – after his name, thereby making his total dedication to them official in the eyes of God as well as in fact.

His missionary zeal and dedication embraced every form of misery. There were two hospitals in Cartagena at the time, one housed general patients and the other lepers and those suffering from St. Anthony’s Fire, an illness that produced infected boils, seizures and spasms, diarrhea, parenthesis, itching, mania, nausea and vomiting.

He became renowned for his miracles, and converted many with his kind and caring ways.  Peter spent himself unstintingly and truly became the Apostle of Cartagena.

In 1650 he fell gravely ill, and four years later on September 8, the birthday of Our Lady, he died, the last years of his life spent in his cell because his body never fully recovered from illness.

He was canonized in 1888 by Pope Leo XIII and declared patron of all missionary work among the Africans by the same pope in 1896.

 


 

 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for May 29, 2020

Those who open their mouth to confess their faith breathe th...

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May 29

 

Those who open their mouth
to confess their faith
breathe the spirit of divine grace,
which is the life of the soul.

St. Anthony of Padua


My Mother, I will stand with you on OCTOBER 10, 2020

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. William of Toulouse and Companions

The priests, meeting with much hostility in town, set up in...

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St. William of Toulouse and Companions

William Arnaud, a Dominican, and companions were sent to Toulouse in the South of France by Pope Gregory IX to combat the Albigensian heresy then entrenched throughout the region.

The Albigensian heresy preached a dualism where the body was considered evil. As a consequence, they denied that Christ could have been human, rejected the Sacraments and adopted, in their stead, pagan rituals of “purification”.

The priests, meeting with much hostility in town, set up in a house in the surrounding country, and were making many converts, which upset the local government under Count Raymond III of Toulouse.

They and others, a total of eleven, including some Franciscans, Benedictines, and a layman, were deceived into accepting an invitation to the local castle where seven of them were set upon and slaughtered in a most barbarous manner.

The other four, William Arnaud among them, escaped to a local church where they were found singing religious hymns. Violating the medieval “sanctuary” – an unforgivable act at that time – and angered by the singing, the soldiers first cut off William’s tongue, then killed all four. Their bodies were thrown in a ravine, but that night, light streamed from them leading the faithful to their relics. They were interred in the Church of San Romano at the monastery in Toulouse.

The church in Avignonet where the martyrs had been murdered, was placed under interdict and for years the doors remained locked because of the sacrilege.

Many cures were reported at their graves.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

There was once a young country wife who practiced devotion t...

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Mary and the Simple Country Wife

There was once a young country wife who practiced devotion to Holy Mary, just as her mother had taught her to do. This simple young lady considered herself fortunate to have married a handsome soldier. Little did she know that her soldier-husband had made a deal with the devil, that he would sell his wife for a certain sum of money.

One crisp, autumn morning the couple went out for their customary walk. Oddly, this time the young man insisted on heading towards the forest. It was at the forest where he intended to deliver his young bride over to the devil.

On their way to the forest, the couple passed in front of a Church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The wife, overtaken with a desire to enter the church begged her husband to allow her to pray a Hail Mary in that church.

As the young lady entered the church, Holy Mary came forth from it, taking the form of the wife and accompanied the man into the forest.

When they at last approached the devil at the forest, he said to the man, “Traitor! Why have you brought me instead of your wife, my enemy, the mother of God?”

“And you,” said Mary, addressing the devil, “how have you dared to think of injuring my servant? Go, flee to hell.”

And then, turning to the man, Mary said to him, “Amend your life, and I will aid you.”

She then disappeared and that wretched man repented, amended his life and became a husband worthy of his simple country wife.

From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

 

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There was once a young country wife who practiced devotion to Holy Mary, just as her mother had taught her to do. This simple young lady considered herself fortunate to have married a handsome soldier.

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