Saint Peter Claver Feast Day
Saint Peter Claver was born into a wealthy, devout Catholic family. Noted for his intelligence and piety, he chose to use his blessings to minister to the enslaved rather than to live a life of material and financial prosperity. Many church and municipal authorities strongly opposed Saint Peter Claver's chosen mission of minister to the spiritual, physical, and mental needs of the enslaved.
Despite the opposition, Saint Peter Claver
- Boarded crowded and inhumane slave ships on the ports of Cartagena, Colombia, South America to serve the passengers as soon as they arrived from their traumatic transatlantic voyages that often lasted several months
- Provided free medicine, food, bread, and basic instructions using interpreters and pictures
- Baptized over 300,000
- Annually heard confession from over 5,000
- Visited plantations, choosing to stay in slave quarters while he encouraged those enslaved to persevere in their faith and advocated for their humane treatment
- Visited the city square and hospitals, preaching and ministering to the sick, sailors, traders, visitors, condemned criminals, and also the many prosperous citizens of Cartagena
- Continued his mission for approximately 40 years
- After caring for so many for so long, died on September 8, 1654 after four years of being confined to his room with lingering health problems and suffering from neglect by his caretakers
- Viewed his condition only as a punishment for his sins
- Was canonized by Pope Leo XIII in 1888
- Feast Day is recognized on September 9th
Saint Peter Claver's work was inspired by Alonso de Sandoval, who had been ministering to the enslaved for 40 years prior to our patron saint's arrival.
There are churches, schools, and missions named in his honor, particularly in predominately African / African-American parishes, throughout the world.
His body is preserved and venerated in the Church of the Jesuit Residence that is now renamed in his honor.