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 Saint Peter Armengol is a model of confidence. His life inspires everyone who, amid the crisis of the modern world, needs special graces from Our Lady to remain completely faithful.

 

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From Gangster to Convert

Coat of ArmsPeter Armengol was born in Guardia dels Prats, a small village in the archdiocese of Tarragon, Spain in 1238. He belonged to the noble house of the barons of Rocafort, descendants of the counts of Urgel, whose ancestors were directly linked to the counts of Barcelona and the monarchs of Aragon and Castile.

Despite the great care taken by his parents regarding his education, young Peter gave himself over to a life of total dissipation, vice and caprice. “Abyssus abyssum invocat” (Deep calleth on deep), say the Scriptures. Thus Peter joined a gang of criminals who, pursued by Justice, led the life of bandits in the mountains. Soon, young Armengol became the leader of that gang.

On account of his son’s bad behavior, Arnold Armengol de Moncada moved to the kingdom of Valencia, recently conquered from the Moors by King Jaime. This monarch had to embark on a trip to Montpellier in order to meet with the King of France on matters of interest to both crowns.

To travel safely, he commissioned Arnold to go before him and rout the assailants who often robbed and killed travelers in the Pyrenees region.

At the most dangerous part of the journey, the retinue of the noble Spaniard saw itself surrounded by brigands. Arnold, with his troops, rushed at them, wounding some and apprehending others. He spurred his horse forward with sword in hand and urged his men to defeat the leader of the bandits. Indeed, Arnold himself was the first to engage the leader in hand-to-hand combat.

Suddenly, grief came upon both noble and brigand, when they discovered their identity. Bathed in tears, Peter prostrated himself at the feet of his father, delivered his sword and, with it, his heart.

 

Penance for His Misdeeds

Filled with shame, the repentant youth retired to a Mercedarian monastery in Barcelona. With an ardent desire to repair the injuries done to God, he become a monk in that religious order founded by Saint Peter Nolasco to ransom Catholics captured by the Mohammedans. He requested the habit with such insistence and gave such conclusive proofs of his vocation that he was received into the Mercedarian Order by the Venerable William de Bas, the French-born successor of the holy founder.

The disorderly passions were now conquered by Peter Armengol in religious life. He understood how to subdue them with such promptitude, through penance, mortification of the senses and continual prayer, that even before he reached the end of his novitiate he had managed to subject them to the dominion of his will and reason.

During the eight years of his profession, he was entrusted with the important task of dealing directly with the ransom of captives. He carried out this function in the provinces of Spain that were still in the power of the Saracens. Nonetheless, his greatest desire was to go to Africa and become a captive for the ransom of Christians.

On an expedition to that continent, he arrived in Bugia in the company of Friar William Florentino. There they ransomed 119 captives without any incident. However, before departing, Friar Armengol learned of a prison with 18 children who, impelled by the threats of punishments of the barbarous Mohammedans, remained in danger of denying the Faith. The religious happily offered himself as hostage for the ransom of the innocent captives.

His release was promised in exchange for a stipulated sum. But, if the payment did not arrive within the set time, he would suffer harsh punishments. Divine Providence had disposed that this man of God would thus give proof of his special confidence in the omnipotent mediation of the Blessed Virgin, to whom he was deeply devoted.

 

Flaming Torch of Confidence

Statue of Friar Armengol with a rope around his neckIn captivity, Friar Armengol worked prodigies of charity among the infidels, converting many by the efficacy of his preaching. The time prescribed for the delivery of the money came and passed without the payment being made. The infidels threw him in prison and even denied the food necessary for his sustenance, but Our Lord, by means of His angels, miraculously provided for his survival.

Tired of tormenting him, the Moors conspired to take his life. They accused him of blaspheming Mohammed and of being a spy sent by the Christian kings, thus raising the ire of the Saracen Judge who condemned Friar Peter to death by hanging.

When everything seemed lost, Friar Armengol prayed to Our Lady and confided in her.

The unjust execution was carried out and Peter’s body was left hanging from the gallows. The Moors wanted his corpse to feed birds of prey. Thus, the holy man’s body remained suspended. Six days had elapsed when Friar William arrived with the ransom money. Learning what had happened, he went with great sorrow, in the company of some captives, to see the lamentable sight.

Reaching the site of the execution, he noticed that the body did not emit a bad odor, but rather exhaled a heavenly fragrance. To their astonishment, Friar Armengol spoke, telling them that the Blessed Mother saved his life. Astounded by the stupendous miracle, some pagans converted to the Catholic religion.

 

Conversation with the Queen of Angels

Virgin of RansomLearning of the portentous miracle, Barcelona impatiently awaited the return of the unconquerable martyr of Jesus Christ.

In the city, they received him with great joy, escorting him from the port to his monastery, giving thanks to Our Lord for His marvels. The religious wanted to hear from Friar Peter’s mouth what had happened, but despite their earnest pleas, he would not speak. Finally, the superior ordered him to tell all that had occurred.

Obedient, the man of God spoke: “The Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our own mother, asked her Most Holy Son to conserve my life; having obtained this favor, this same sovereign Queen sustained me with her most holy hands, so that the weight of my body would not hang upon the rope by which I was suspended.”

For the rest of his life, Friar Armengol had a twisted neck and a pale completion, authentic signs of what had taken place. He retired to the monastery of Our Lady de los Prados, where he practiced heroic virtue and spent his days in familiar conversation with the Queen of Angels, whom he loved so dearly with filial devotion.

Recalling the miracle of his hanging, he frequently told the religious of the monastery of this marvel: “Believe me, my dear brothers, that I do not believe myself to have lived except for those few but most happy days when, hanging from the gallows, I was held to be dead.”

He rendered his soul to God on April 27, 1304. Our Lord deigned to give proofs of the glorification of His servant with seven miracles, the cures of three men and four women, even before his death. On March 28, 1686 Pope Innocent the XI approved the public cult to the saint and, in the eighteenth century, Pope Benedict XIV inscribed Saint Peter Armengol in the Roman Martyrology.

 

The Tomb of the Saint

Today the remains of Saint Armengol can be found in Guardia dels Prats. The small village still preserves much of its medieval character: tortuous, narrow stone-studded streets; buildings that recall old palaces or noble residences; and a charming Romanesque–style church.

The body of Saint Peter Armengol was preserved incorrupt until 1936. During the Spanish Civil War, however, communist marauders invaded and sacked the church, carrying off his venerable body to the public square where they burned it. Some children gathered up what they could of these ashes and took the precious remains to their homes, where their mothers kept them with great care.

Later, after the communists were vanquished, the precious relics were returned to the church, where they are kept in a reliquary over the main altar – largely forgotten by “progressive” Catholics – in silent testimony of the sanctity of the Catholic Church and Christian Civilization.

In our times of profound moral crisis, let us ask Saint Armengol to obtain for us before the throne of God, graces of unbending fidelity, unwavering hope and heroic confidence in the powerful intercession of Our Lady.

 


Source: Cf. Abbe Rohrbacher, Histoire Universelle de l'Eglise Catholique, vol. 20, Gaume Freres Libraires, Paris, 1845, pp. 40-43.
Photo Attribution:

  • Coat of Arms - Heralder  
  • Statue of Pedro Armengol - Noucho
  • Virgin of Ransom - Volorik

 

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Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for March 6, 2021

In temptations against chastity, the spiritual masters advis...

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March 6

 

In temptations against chastity, the spiritual masters advise us not  
so much to contend with the bad thought,  
as to turn the mind to some spiritual, or, at least, indifferent object.  
It is useful to combat other bad thoughts face to face,  

but not thoughts of impurity. 

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Colette Broyet

Heartsick, she hesitated only to become blind for three days...

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St. Colette Broyet

Colette Broyet lived during the great Church schism when there were two men claiming to be Pope: one in Rome and one in Avignon.

Her father worked as a carpenter for the Benedictine Abbey of Corbie in French Picardy. Both parents were older and prayed earnestly to St. Nicholas of Myra to conceive. On the birth of a daughter, they named her Nicolette. Left an orphan at seventeen, Colette distributed what little she had to the poor, and with the help of her guardian, the Abbot of Corbie, moved into a small hermitage and joined the Third Order of Saint Francis.

In her cell, Colette lived a life of austerity and prayer becoming known for her holiness. In a vision, St. Francis asked her to reform his order. Heartsick at the prospect, the twenty-five year old girl hesitated, only to become blind for three days, and then deaf for another three. Taking this as a sign that she must take up her mission, in 1406 she left her seclusion and under the direction of her confessor, Fr. Henry de Baume, set about to try to explain her mandate only to realize that, if she was to succeed, she must be invested with the proper authority.

She visited Peter de Luna, who under the name of Benedict XIII was then considered the true Pope by the French, though illegitimate according to Church history.  Luna was so impressed with Colette that he professed her in the rule of St. Clare and invested her with the necessary authority for her mission.

With these credentials Colette visited convents in France, Savoy and Flanders inviting these to return to the original rule of St. Clare. Still, at first she met with violent opposition. Bearing all with joy she persevered and, after a while, began to make a difference as convents accepted her revised rule. In all, she founded seventeen new convents, and several houses of Franciscan friars also accepted her reform.

An energetic reformer, mystic and miracle worker, Collette died in Flanders at age of sixty-seven after foretelling her own death. She was canonized in 1807.

Photo by: DirkVE

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

Handing him a Rosary she asked him to go to Mass for a week....

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Payback

At Anna’s mother’s funeral a man came up to her and after offering his deepest sympathy, took the grieving daughter aside, “I must tell you a story about your good mother and something she did for me…”

He proceeded to recount how, many years before he was involved in an extra-marital affair. One day, when dining with the woman in a restaurant, Anna’s parents had come in and pretended they had not seen them.

But next day he picked up the phone to hear Anna’s mother inviting him over for a piece of pie.

“You know how good your mother’s pie was…But there was also a tone of urgent authority in her voice, so I went.”

After enjoying his piece of pie, Anna’s mother revealed that she had, indeed, seen him and his girl-friend the night before.

“Though I vehemently denied it, your mother would not relent...She proceeded to remind me of the time when I was out of work and she had cooked for my family day in and day out.”

“Now, I want payback,” she demanded.

“I reached for my wallet, but she said,”

“Not that way.”

Handing him a Rosary she asked him to go to Mass for a week. She instructed him to say the Hail Mary and Our Father assigned to each bead while thinking of something good about his wife, his children and their family life.

“If at the end of this week you still think this woman is better for you, just mail me back the Rosary, and I will never say a word about this again.”

At this point, the man telling the story reached into his pocket. Pulling out a worn Rosary, he said,

“This is the Rosary your mother gave me all those years ago. My wife and I have said it together every day since.”

 Based on a story from 101 Inspirational Stories of the Rosary by Sister Patricia Proctor, OSC

Handing him a Rosary she asked him to go to Mass for a week. She instructed him to say the Hail Mary

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