Posted in DANTE ALIGHIERI!, DOCTORS of the Church, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 21 February – St Peter Damian OSB (1007-1072) Doctor of the Church

Saint of the Day – 21 February – St Peter Damian OSB (1007-1072) Doctor of the Church, Bishop Cardinal, Benedictine Monk, Confessor, Theologian, Writer, Teacher, Preacher, Poet, Reformer.   Patronages – Spiritual warfare, Church Reformers and Faenza, Italy. Partly because he was orphaned and had been treated shabbily by one of his brothers, Peter Damian was very good to the poor.   It was the ordinary thing for him to have a poor person or two with him at table and he liked to minister personally to their needs.


Peter escaped poverty and the neglect of his own brother when a second brother, who was Archpriest of Ravenna, took him under his wing.   His brother sent him to good schools and Peter became a professor.

Already in those days, Peter was very strict with himself.   He wore a hair shirt under his clothes, fasted rigorously and spent many hours in prayer.   Soon, he decided to leave his teaching and give himself completely to prayer with the Benedictines of the reform of Saint Romuald at Fonte Avellana.   They lived two monks to a hermitage.   Peter was so eager to pray and slept so little that he soon suffered from severe insomnia.   He found he had to use some prudence in taking care of himself.   When he was not praying, he studied the Bible.

st per damian ravenna  2.jpg
St Peter Damian

The abbot commanded that when he died Peter should succeed him.   Abbot Peter founded five other hermitages.   He encouraged his brothers in a life of prayer and solitude and wanted nothing more for himself.   The Holy See periodically called on him, however, to be a peacemaker or troubleshooter, between two abbeys in dispute or a cleric or government official in some disagreement with Rome.

Finally, Pope Stephen IX made Peter the Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia.   He worked hard to wipe out simony—the buying of church offices–and encouraged his priests to observe celibacy and urged even the diocesan clergy to live together and maintain scheduled prayer and religious observance.   He wished to restore primitive discipline among religious and priests, warning against needless travel, violations of poverty and too-comfortable living.   He even wrote to the Bishop of Besancon complaining that the canons there sat down when they were singing the psalms in the Divine Office.

He wrote many letters.   Some 170 are extant.   We also have 53 of his sermons and seven lives, or biographies, that he wrote.   He preferred examples and stories rather than theory in his writings.   The liturgical offices he wrote are evidence of his talent as a stylist in Latin.

I cannot find out much about this image, it seems to be Saint Romuald on the left (of whom St Peter wrote a biography), St Peter Damian in the centre and an unknown saint, I presume on the right.

He asked often to be allowed to retire as Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia and finally Pope Alexander II consented.   Peter was happy to become once again just a monk but he was still called to serve as a papal legate.   When returning from such an assignment in Ravenna, he was overcome by a fever.   With the monks gathered around him saying the Divine Office, he died on 22 February 1072.

In 1828, he was declared a Doctor of the peter damian statue snip.JPG

In Canto XXI, Dante has the Saint pronounce an invective against the luxury enjoyed by prelates in the Church of his day and in that of Dante`s – the translation below is by Allen Mandelbaum:

113 … There, within that monastery,
114 in serving God, I gained tenacity:
115 with food that only olive juice had seasoned,
116 I could sustain with ease both heat and frost,
117 content within my contemplative thoughts.

118 That cloister used to offer souls to Heaven,
119 a fertile harvest but it now is barren
120 as Heaven’s punishment will soon make plain.

121 There I was known as Peter Damian
122 and, on the Adriatic shore, was Peter
123 the Sinner when I served Our Lady’s House.

124 Not much of mortal life was left to me
125 when I was sought for, dragged to take that hat
126 which always passes down from bad to worse.

127 Once there were Cephas and the Holy Ghost’s
128 great vessel – they were barefoot, they were lean,
129 they took their food at any inn they found.

130 But now the modern pastors are so plump
131 that they have need of one to prop them up
132 on this side, one on that and one in front,

133 and one to hoist them saddleward.  Their cloaks
134 cover their steeds, two beasts beneath one skin:
135 o patience, you who must endure so much!”

amos nattini st peter damian
Amos Nattini (1892-1985)
Divina Commedia, Paradiso canto XXI, San Pier Damiani nel cielo di Saturno


Passionate Catholic. Being a Catholic is a way of life - a love affair "Religion must be like the air we breathe..."- St John Bosco Prayer is what the world needs combined with the example of our lives which testify to the Light of Christ. This site, which is now using the Traditional Calendar, will mainly concentrate on Daily Prayers, Novenas and the Memorials and Feast Days of our friends in Heaven, the Saints who went before us and the great blessings the Church provides in our Catholic Monthly Devotions. This Site is placed under the Patronage of my many favourite Saints and especially, St Paul. "For the Saints are sent to us by God as so many sermons. We do not use them, it is they who move us and lead us, to where we had not expected to go.” Charles Cardinal Journet (1891-1975) This site adheres to the Catholic Church and all her teachings. PLEASE ADVISE ME OF ANY GLARING TYPOS etc - In June 2021 I lost 95% sight in my left eye and sometimes miss errors. Thank you and I pray all those who visit here will be abundantly blessed. Pax et bonum! 🙏

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