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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 September 23, 2019

In all the events of life, you must recognize the Divine wil...

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September 23

 

In all the events of life, you must recognize the Divine will.
Adore and bless it,
especially in the things which are the hardest for you.

St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Offering himself as a victim for the end of the war, Padre P...

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St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Francesco was born in the small Italian village of Pietrelcina on May 25, 1887. His parents, Grazio Forgione and Maria Giuseppa Di Nunzio, were peasant farmers, but they recognized their son was close to God. When he was only five years old, he solemnly consecrated himself to Jesus. It is said he often spoke with Our Lord, Our Lady and his guardian angel, who defended him against attacks by the devil. He joined the Capuchin Franciscans at the age of fifteen, and took the name Pio with his religious vows. After seven years of study he was ordained to the priesthood in 1910.

During the same month he was ordained, Padre Pio was praying in the chapel when Our Lord and His Blessed Mother appeared and gave him the Stigmata. However, the wounds soon faded and then disappeared. “I do want to suffer, even to die of suffering,” Padre Pio told Our Lady, “but all in secret." Soon after, he experienced the first of his spiritual ecstasies.

Pio was in the military for a short time, but was discharged due to poor health. Upon his return to the monastery, he became a spiritual director. He had five rules for spiritual growth: weekly confession, daily Communion, spiritual reading, meditation, and examination of conscience. He often advised, "Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry."

In July of 1918, Padre Pio received the visible Stigmata, the five wounds of Christ (hands, feet and side), after offering himself as a victim for the end of the war. By 1933, the holy priest was recognized by the Church and by 1934 had attracted thousands of pilgrims that attended his masses and frequented his confessional.

On September 23, 1968, Padre Pio said his final Mass, renewed his vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience and died in his cell after suffering from grave physical decline. Before his death, Padre Pio orchestrated and oversaw the building of the “House for the Alleviation of Suffering,” a 350-bed medical and religious center.

He was canonized on June 16, 2002 by Pope John Paul II. An estimated 300,000 people attended the canonization ceremony.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

“What is that?” Asked a curious voice as America Needs F...

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The Power of a Picture

“What is that?” Asked a curious voice as America Needs Fatima custodian Jose Ferraz stepped into the hotel elevator in Altamonte Springs, Florida. “This is the Pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima,” replied Mr. Ferraz, “I take Her to visit people in their homes to spread the Fatima message.” He then handed the woman, who was a maid at the hotel, America Needs Fatima’s most popular picture. “This is a picture of Her.” The woman gasped. “I know that picture! It inspired a conversion.” She then asked excitedly, “Do you have a minute to hear the story?” 

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As Mr. Ferraz listened, he learned that the woman, Maria Vegra, had a 22-year old son who had recently passed away after three weeks in the hospital due to a fatal injury received in a car accident. While in the hospital, a priest would visit him every day to administer Holy Communion. The priest consistently offered the sacrament to the neighboring patient of Maria’s son, another young man who was also in critical condition. The young man would say, “No. I don’t believe in God.” But the priest continued to offer salvation. “Let me hear your confession and give you Holy Communion and Last Rights,” the priest said, “it will save your soul and get you to heaven.” Time after time, the young man stubbornly refused.

During the weeks of hospitalization and fruitless medical treatments, Maria had taken her son a picture of Our Lady of Fatima a friend had given her from an America Needs Fatima mailing.

She knew Our Lady’s watchful gaze would give her son peace in his last days. The day after she placed Our Lady’s picture at the foot of her son’s bed, she heard the voice of his stubborn neighbor: “please,” he said, “bring the picture closer to me. I want to look at the Lady.” 

Surprised but willing, Maria placed the picture in the middle of the two suffering men. 

After three days of letting the nearby picture of Our Lady touch his heart as he gazed into Her eyes, the suffering patient relented. “Please,” he called out, “bring me the priest. I want to receive the sacraments.”

A few days later, the young man died a Catholic. With a simple picture of Our Lady of Fatima, God touched a heart and saved a soul. 

 By Catherine Ferdinand

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“What is that?” Asked a curious voice as America Needs Fatima custodian Jose Ferraz stepped into the hotel elevator in Altamonte Springs, Florida. “This is the Pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima,” replied Mr. Ferraz, “I take Her to visit people in their homes to spread the Fatima message.” He then handed the woman, who was a maid at the hotel, America Needs Fatima’s most popular picture. 

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