- New deacon welcomed at St John Neumann
- CRS CEO Woo visits Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in High Point
- College students spend weekend 'awakening' their faith
- Postcard from Kingston: My impressions of our parish mission trip to Jamaica
- 'Yankee' turned Southern pastor reflects on 60 years as a priest
- Nuns get on the bus for immigration reform
- Military Mass planned for July 7
St. Peter Claver, Jesuit apostle to African slaves, honored Sept. 9
On Sept. 9, the Catholic Church celebrates St. Peter Claver, a Jesuit missionary who spent his life in the service of African slaves brought against their will to South America during the 17th century.
Peter Claver was born into a farming family in the Spanish region of Catalonia during 1581. He studied at the University of Barcelona as a young man, and joined the Jesuits as a novice at the age of 20.
While studying philosophy in Tarragona, Peter developed a friendship with an older Jesuit lay brother, Alphonsus Rodriguez. Although Alphonsus spent his days doing menial work as a door-keeper, he had immense insight into spiritual matters and encouraged Peter to become a missionary in the Spanish colonies. Pope Leo XIII would later canonize both men on the same day, almost two centuries later.
In 1610, Peter Claver – now a priest – arrived in Cartagena, a port city in present-day Columbia. Despite Pope Paul III's repeated condemnations of slavery during the previous century, European colonists continued importing African slaves, often sold by their own rulers, to work on plantations and in mines. Those who survived the ship journey could expect to be worked to death by their masters.
Peter was determined to sacrifice his own freedom to bring material aid and eternal salvation to the African slaves, in keeping with his vow to become "the slave of the blacks forever." The young priest made and kept this resolution despite his own health problems (aggravated by Cartagena's tropical climate) and the language barrier between himself and the population he served.
Many Spanish Royal officials in Cartagena appreciated Claver's work, and made contributions toward the slaves' relief and religious education. The slave traders, on the other hand, found the priest and his interpreters to be a nuisance. Meanwhile, some Spanish expatriates who sought out the priest because of his holy reputation, refused to enter the same church or confessional as the black slaves.
To minister to speakers of a foreign language, Claver often employed pictorial representations of Catholic truths. He also communicated by means of generosity and expressions of love, giving food and drink to the ailing workers and visiting them during bouts of sickness that often proved fatal.
"We must speak to them with our hands," he reasoned, "before we try to speak to them with our lips."
In keeping with his vow of "slavery," Peter survived on minimal amounts of food and sleep. His life of humility and penance led to miraculous occurrences – as when he healed the sick with the touch of his cloak, or appeared surrounded by a supernatural light during his hospital visits.
St. Peter Claver's work came to an end with his death on Sept. 8, 1654. He had baptized and taught the faith to more than 300,000 slaves during his four decades in Cartagena.
During the Vatican's Synod for Africa in 2009, Cartagena's Archbishop Jorge Enrique Jiménez Carvajal lamented the fact that his city had been the center of an "awful commerce."
But he spoke with gratitude for the fact that the same city had become the home of such a "great witness to sanctity," the "apostle of the slaves, whose body rests in our cathedral, who lived to protect them and lead them towards the faith" in which they could experience God's love.
— CNA/EWTN News
Father Patrick Winslow: What can we learn from Pope Francis?
It appears as if popes have something on their mind when first elected. One might call it a diagnosis and a proposed remedy for current ails. With Pope John Paul II, it was a message of hope to a world filled with fear. One can still hear him...Read More...
David Hains: Close that unhealthy health center
The Gosnell abortion mill in Philadelphia and A Preferred Woman's Health Center in Charlotte have something in common: little regard for human life. It should come as no surprise that women are being mistreated in these facilities since...Read More...
Peggy Bowes: Honor thy mother: Devotions to Mary
"We never give more honor to Jesus than when we honor His Mother, and we honor her simply and solely to honor Him all the more perfectly. We go to her only as a way leading to the goal we seek – Jesus, her Son." — St. Louis de Montfort,...Read More...
Arts & Entertainment
McLeansville artist sees his work as evangelization
GREENSBORO — One gift changed Paul Nixon's life. Today the McLeansville man is a working artist, with sculptures on display throughout Guilford County. His latest, a sculpture of the Lamb of God, was installed at St. Thomas More Church...Read More...
For the love of painting: Lifesize portrait painted of Monsignor Marcaccio
GREENSBORO — Last month Monsignor Anthony Marcaccio, pastor of St. Pius X Church in Greensboro, was hung. On a wall. In the church. Last year, St. Pius X parishioners hired up-and-coming British artist Nancy Fletcher to paint a life-size...Read More...
Shroud of Turin broadcast set for Holy Saturday
DENVER — Pope Benedict XVI's decision to allow a TV broadcast of the Shroud of Turin on March 30, Holy Saturday, has been lauded by experts for highlighting the link between the shroud and the death and resurrection of Christ. "Pope Benedict...Read More...