UNIVERSAL PATRON OF THE MISSION TO THE BLACK SLAVES
ST. PETER CLAVER, S.J.
September 9, Feastday
• Born: June 25, 1580 in the village of Verdu, Catalonia, Spain
• Entered Society of Jesus: August 7, 1602
• Took First Vows: August 8, 1604
• He studied Philosophy at the Jesuit College of Montesion in Palma, Majorca where he was deeply influenced by the saintly lay brother Alphonsus Rodriquez,S.J., to become a missionary.
• On April 15, 1610, he sailed from Seville, Spain for Cartagena des Indias, the port of entry for the black slave trade in the New World.
• He was ordained priest in Cartagena on March 19, 1616.
• From 1616 until his death in 1654, thirty-eight years, he worked in Cartagena among the black slaves who were the most downtrodden sector of that society.
• The essence of Claver’s spiritual impact was his unconditional gift of himself to others and his preference for the wretched, although he did not work exclusively with them.The Apostolate of St. Peter Claver, S.J.
St. Peter Claver, S.J., was obsessed with the tragedy of the black slaves. He saw and wept bitterly over their wretched condition when they arrived after the long sea voyage from Africa to Cartagena. His heart went out to their suffering. As many as one-third of the slaves died in the sea voyage. Packed into the boats, they looked out sadly, like animals in despair. He would go to those still alive, many of them so sick that they had no wish to eat, but only to die. He washed them, nursed them back to life, and fed them. He would comfort them and put them at ease. Then, he would baptize and instruct them in the faith with the help of his catechists. He baptized and instructed more than 300,000 of the black slaves. He saw himself as the liberator of an oppressed race. He committed himself totally to their welfare. This was his ministry for his entire priestly life, thirty-eight years. Points for Reflection
• Am I aware of the needs of the poor, the suffering and the needy in the
• Do I know poor people? Do I know people in need?
• Do I have friends among the poor?
• How much do I go out of my comfort zone to care for the poor and those in need?
PrayersLord God, you called Saint Peter Claver
to be the servant of slaves
and a heroic example of patient charity.
Grant through his prayers that we may see
what belongs to Christ, and love our neighbor,
not in word only but with our whole lives.
We ask this through our lord,
Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You
and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.Prayer of Pedro Arrupe, S.J.Teach me how to be compassionate to the suffering,
To the poor, the blind, the lame, and the lepers;
Show me how You revealed Your deepest emotions,
As when you shed tears,
Or when you felt sorrow and anguish
To the point of sweating blood
And needed an angel to console You.
Above all, I want to learn
How you supported the extreme pain of the cross
Including the abandonment of Your Father.
Reflection for SEPTEMBER, 2006
Pasquale T. Giordano, S.J.