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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 August 3, 2021

Jesus who cannot suffer long to keep you in affliction will...

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August 3

 

Jesus who cannot suffer long to keep you in affliction
will come to relieve and comfort you
by infusing fresh courage into your soul.

St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Waltheof of Melrose

He strove so greatly for perfection that his confessors ofte...

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St. Waltheof of Melrose

Waltheof was born of English nobility. The son of Simon, the Earl of Huntingdon, and Maud, the grand-niece of William the Conqueror, he was also the grandson of Saint Waldef of Northumbria. As a child, Waltheof felt drawn to churches and the religious life. Following his father's death, he, and his mother and brother moved to Scotland where Maud married King David I. As part of the royal court, he was educated and became a spiritual student of St. Aelred.

Following his long-held inclination to contemplation and desiring to dedicate himself entirely to God, Waltheof left Scotland and traveled to Yorkshire to join the Augustinian Canons at the monastery at Nostell. He was soon chosen as prior, and led the monks in a more austere rule. Some time later, Waltheof left Nostell for the more austere life of the Cistercian monks.
Four years after receiving the Cistercian habit, he was nominated as abbot of Melrose, a newly established monastery. Then, in 1154, he was chosen as the new Archbishop of St. Andrews, but in his humility, he begged St. Aelred to oppose the election and not oblige him to accept.

Waltheof died in 1160 of old age. It has been said that he strove so greatly for perfection, that his confessors often found him irksome.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

In the days of yore, when travel must be had on foot or by h...

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The Virgin Mary Rewards a Bandit

In the days of yore, when travel must be had on foot or by horse, many were the dangers to be found along the roadways. Bandits plagued travelers and made their living by depriving others of their goods and often their very lives.

A young woman in the Papal States, who was very devout towards Mary, met in a certain place a chief of the bandits. Fearing some outrage, she implored him, for love of the most holy Virgin, not to molest her.

"Do not fear," he answered, "for you have prayed me in the name of the mother of God; and I only ask you to recommend me to her." Moved by the woman’s mention of the Blessed Virgin, the bandit accompanied her himself along the road to a place of safety.

The following night, Mary appeared in a dream to the bandit. She thanked him for the act of kindness he had performed for love of her. Mary went on to say that she would remember it and would one day reward him.

The robber, at length, was arrested, and condemned to death. But behold, the night previous to his execution, the blessed Virgin visited him again in a dream, and first asked him: "Do you know who I am?"

He answered, "It seems to me I have seen you before."

"I am the Virgin Mary," she continued, "and I have come to reward you for what you have done for me. You will die tomorrow, but you will die with so much contrition that you will come at once to paradise."

The convict awoke, and felt such contrition for his sins that he began to weep bitterly, all the while giving thanks aloud to our Blessed Lady. He asked immediately for a priest, to whom he made his confession with many tears, relating the vision he had seen. Finally, he asked the priest to make public this grace that had been bestowed on him by Mary.

He went joyfully to his execution, after which, as it is related, his countenance was so peaceful and so happy that all who saw him believed that the promise of the heavenly mother had been fulfilled.

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

In the days of yore, when travel must be had on foot or by horse, many were the dangers to be found along the roadways.