by Sandra Miesel
Peter Claver was a Catalan, youngest son of a prosperous
farmer. After entering the Society of Jesus in 1602, he was later sent
to study on the island of Majorca where he found a mentor in the kindly
old college porter Alphonsus Rodriguez. Over the course of three years,
Brother Alphonsus encouraged Peters call to the missions and taught
him to "look for God in all men."
When a plague epidemic struck Cartagena in 1650,
Peter nursed the sick until he fell ill himself. He survived but was left
permanently disabled with tremors that kept him from saying Mass ever
again. Although abused by the freed slave hired to care for him, Peter
humbly refused to complain.
Four years later when Peter lay on his deathbed,
the city suddenly remembered him. Huge crowds came to pay their respects--and
strip his room of relics. He died comatose on September 8, 1654 and received
a splendid funeral. A new Spanish priest had arrived shortly before his
death to carry on his work.
Originally published in Four County Catholic, newspaper of the diocese of Norwich CT. Used with permission.
Sandra Miesel is the co-author, with Carl Olson, of The Da Vinci Hoax. She holds masters degrees in biochemistry and medieval history from the University of Illinois. Since 1983, she has written hundreds of articles for the Catholic press, chiefly on history, art, and hagiography. She regularly appears in Crisis magazine and is a columnist for the diocesan paper of Norwich, Connecticut. Sandra has spoken at religious and academic conferences, appeared on EWTN, and given numerous radio interviews. Outside the Catholic sphere, she has also written, analyzed, and edited fiction. Sandra and her husband John have raised three children.
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