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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 January 19, 2020

We’ve had enough of exhortations to be silent! Cry out wit...

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January 19

 

We’ve had enough of exhortations to be silent!
Cry out with a hundred thousand tongues.
I see that the world is rotten
because of silence.

St. Catherine of Siena


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

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Wulfstan of Worcester

The citizens of Bristol would kidnap men and sell them into...

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St. Wulfstan of Worcester

Wulfstan (Wulstan) was a native of Warwickshire, England.  After his priestly ordination, he became a novice at the monastery of Worcester where he edified all by the innocence and sanctity of his life. He was assiduous at prayer, often watching all night in church.

The first task assigned to him at the monastery was the instruction of children, then treasurer and eventually - though against his fierce resistance - he was made prior. In 1062, he was elected Bishop of Worcester.

Wulfstan was a powerful preacher, often moving his audience to tears.

To his vigorous action is particularly attributed the suppression of the heinous practice among the citizens of Bristol of kidnapping men into slavery and shipping them over to Ireland. St. Patrick who became the great apostle and patron of the Irish was such a slave in his youth.

After the Norman conquest of England, William the Conqueror was initially uncertain about Wulfstan. But acknowledging his capacity and uprightness, Wulfstan was the only bishop William retained at his post under the new rule.

For the next thirty years Wulfstan rebuilt his cathedral, cared for the poor and put forth great effort in alleviating the harsh decrees of the Normans upon the vanquished Saxons. Whenever the English complained of the oppression of the Normans, Wulfstan told them: “This is a scourge of God for our sins, which we must bear with patience.”

The saintly bishop died on January 19 at eighty-seven years of age after washing the feet of a dozen poor men, a humble ritual he performed daily. He was canonized in 1203.

Photo by: Christopher Guy

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him h...

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Mary and the Muslim

Don Octavio del Monaco was a wealthy citizen of 17th century Naples. Like many of his class, Don Octavius had several Muslim slaves in his household. These children of Islam were amazed at the kindness of their “master.” He fed and clothed them better than they received in their native land. In return, his slaves attended to their tasks with diligence, as Don Octavius did not over work them, but assigned them duties in keeping with their dignity as children of God.

If these Muslim slaves had any reason for complaint, it was the gentle persistence with which their master and his wife exhorted them to give up their false religion and become Catholics. Don Octavius even went so far as to invite the slaves to join his family in the chapel to worship the one true God with them!

Our story today is about one young slave in particular. His name was Abel, like the slain son of Adam and Eve. He felt drawn in a peculiar way to a lamp that burned in front of a shrine to Holy Mary. Abel would purchase the oil needed to keep the lamp lit from his own meager stipend. As he continued to practice this humble devotion, he would say, “I hope that this Lady will grant me some great favor.”

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him he must become a Christian. At first the Turk resisted. But she placed her hand upon his shoulder, and said to him: “Now no longer resist, Abel, but be baptized and called Joseph,” conferring on him a name that was very dear to her Immaculate Heart indeed.

On August the 10th, 1648, there was much rejoicing in Heaven, for on that day “Joseph” and eleven other Muslims converted to the Christian faith and were baptized. Their conversion was brought about by the kindness shown by Don Octavius and the special intercession of the Mother of God.

Our story does not end here. Even once this son of hers was safely baptized, Mother Mary delighted in visiting him. Once, after having appeared to him, she was about to depart. But the Moor seized her mantle, saying, “Oh, Lady, when I find myself afflicted, I pray you to let me see you.” In fact, she one day promised him this and when Joseph found himself afflicted he invoked her, and Mary appeared to him again saying, “Have patience", and he was consoled.

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

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him he must become a Christian.

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