Old Calendar: St. Peter Claver, priest; St. Gorgonius, martyr
Peter Claver was born of a distinguished family in Catalonia, Spain. He became a Jesuit in 1604, and left for Columbia in 1610, dedicating himself to the service of black slaves. For thirty-three years he ministered to slaves, caring for the sick and dying, and instructing the slaves through catechists. Through his efforts three hundred thousand souls entered the Church. He is the Patron of the Negro Missions.According to the 1962 Missal of Bl. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of St. Gorgonius. Two martyrs named Gorgonius suffered during Diocletian's persecution. One, a Roman, is buried on the Via Labicana; the other, a high court functionary at Nicomedia in Asia Minor, was one of Diocletian's first victims. Later the two were confused and the name Gorgonius occurs only once in the Roman Martyrology.
St. Peter Claver
Peter was born of a distinguished family in Catalonia, Spain in 1581. He joined the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), and after his novitiate in Taragona was sent to the college of Montesione, at Palma in Majorca. There he met Brother Alphonse Rodriguez (also a saint), the humble porter of the convent. Alphonse set Peter's soul on fire to save the souls of the African slaves — thousands being lost because there was no one to minister to them. His superiors finally sent Peter to New Granada in April of 1610. He was never to return to his native Spain.
- Learn the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
- Find out more about St. Alphonsus Rodriguez.
- Study modern missionary activities and perhaps ways to become a missionary in small ways; read what Pope John Paul II says about Missionary Activity and Consecrated Life.
- Take a look at African American history, injustice of the slave trade, and African American Catholics today, etc.
There are two martyrs with this name, a source of considerable confusion. The one was born in Nicomedia and was martyred under Diocletian. Concerning him is the following legendary account: "Gorgonius, a native of Nicomedia, served as a treasurer to Emperor Diocletian. Aided by one of his colleagues, Dorotheus, he converted his fellow officials to the Christian faith. On one occasion, upon witnessing the cruel torturing of a martyr in Diocletian's presence, both Gorgonius and Dorotheus were moved to become martyrs themselves. Fearlessly they addressed the Emperor: 'O Caesar, why do you restrict your punishments to this one witness? Both of us profess the same faith against which you inflict so dire a judgment. See, we are ready to undergo the same suffering.' Without delay the Emperor had them put into irons; he ordered their wounds to be washed with salt and vinegar before tying them to a heated grill. After further torture, they were hanged, about the year 303."
- The Postcommunion prayer (Tridentine Liturgy) is particularly beautiful: "May eternal bliss shine upon and gladden Your family, Lord; for through Your martyr Gorgon we are steeped at all times in the sweet odor of Christ." This prayer indeed indicates how highly the ancient Church respected martyrs. Let us realize that we are a great family whose most illustrious members are those who have died for the faith. From their passion we still draw benefit; and we should rejoice spiritually over them. Pray that you will have the grace to always stand up for your belief in Christ, even if it should cost you your life.