Posted in DOMINICAN OP, MARTYRS, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 29 April – St Peter of Verona OP (1205–1252)

Saint of the Day – 29 April – St Peter of Verona OP (1205–1252) also known as St Peter Martyr – Dominican Priest and Friar, a celebrated Preacher, miracle-worker, Marian devotee.   He served as Inquisitor in Lombardy, was killed by an assassin and was Canonised 11 months after his death, making his the fastest Canonisation in history. Patronages – inquisitors, midwives, Castelleone di Suasa, Italy, Verona, Italy, diocese of, Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. St Peter is the the first Canonised martyr of the Dominican Order.st PeterMartyr-400x526

In the English-speaking part of the world especially, all too little is known about this illustrious Friar Preacher.   Possibly this is in part due to the well-known bias in England against the old-time inquisition, which spread thence into the colonies founded by that country, for Saint Peter was closely connected with that institution.   Indeed, by not a few he is considered as a man without a heart.   Yet he was most compassionate.   His character was rounded out by an admirable strength of will and a mind so judiciously balanced that he neither shrank from duty, whatever the sacrifice, or even danger, it involved, nor allowed his heart to control his judgement.

Father Thomas Agni of Leontino, another noted Dominican, archbishop of Cosenza and later patriarch of Jerusalem, was the first to write a life of the blessed martyr.   His testimony should he all the more reliable because he lived for many years with Saint Peter of Verona, had been his superior and was an eye-witness of the principal events in his life.   The work shows no signs of undue predilection.   Agni’s original manuscript was for long years at Saint Mark’s Convent, Florence. Another, with some additions by Father Ambrose Taegio, was preserved in the Convent of Nostra Donna delle Grazie, Milan.

Peter was born in Verona, Italy in 1205, of parents who had embraced the heresy of Cartharism but he did attend a Catholic school.   He was educated at the University of Bologna and was accepted into the Dominican Order by Dominic himself.  st peter martyr beautiful lg

Because the Dominicans were theologically trained preachers, the popes entrusted the Inquisition to them.   In 1234, Pope Innocent IV recognised Peter’s virtues (severity of life and doctrine, talent for preaching, and zeal for the orthodox Catholic faith) and appointed him Inquisitor in Lombardy.   He spent about six months in that office and it is unclear whether he was ever involved in any trials.   His one recorded act was a declaration of clemency for those confessing heresy or sympathy to heresy.   In 1251 his jurisdiction was extended to most of northern Italy. Although he attracted huge crowds with his preaching, as an inquisitor he also made enemies.

Marvellously filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, he laboured continually for the propagation and defence of the true faith, being zealous for its promotion among the people.   To this end he established the Association of the Faith and the Confraternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.   He was a fervent of promoter of community and fraternal life and served the brethren wisely as a prior.   He was also greatly solicitous for the spiritual good of the sisters, lovingly assisting them with his advice and exhortations to their spiritual benefit.

In his sermons he denounced heresy and also those Catholics who professed the Faith by words but acted contrary to it in deeds.   Crowds came to meet him and followed him, conversions were numerous, including many Cathars who returned to orthodoxy.

Because of this, a group of Milanese Cathars conspired to kill him.   They hired an assassin, one Carino of Balsamo.   Carino’s accomplice was Manfredo Clitoro of Giussano. On 6 April 1252, when Peter was returning from Como to Milan, the two assassins followed Peter to a lonely spot near Barlassina and there killed him and mortally wounded his companion, a fellow friar named Domenico.SaintPeterTheMartyr'sAssasination.JPG

Carino struck Peter’s head with an axe and then attacked Domenico.   Peter rose to his knees and recited the first article of the Symbol of the Apostles (the Apostle’s Creed). Offering his blood as a sacrifice to God, according to legend, he dipped his fingers in it and wrote on the ground: “Credo in Deum” “I believe in God”, the first words of the Apostles’ Creed.   The blow that killed him cut off the top of his head but the testimony given at the inquest into his death confirms that he began reciting the Creed when he was attacked.   Domenico was carried to Meda, where he died five days afterwards.st peter of verona icon

The murderer Carino, renounced heresy, became a Dominican co-operator brother and died with a reputation for sanctity.  He is the subject of a local cult as Blessed Carino of Balsamo.

Wherever he went, the deaf, the dumb, the blind, the lame and people sick with every kind of ailment were brought to him.   Ordinarily all were benefited by his prayers.  They praised God for the power of healing which He had given His servant.st Peter-of-Verona-Full-e1425844752637-400x454.jpg

Peter of Verona and with reason, was considered a learned doctor.   Yet he ever continued to store his mind with new knowledge, whether through prayer, meditation, or reading the Sacred Writings.   The example which he set his religious brethren showed them by what means they could perfect themselves in their state of life and make themselves useful to the Church.   Never did his degree of Master in Sacred Theology cause him to neglect study.   Study never prevented him from being the first at all the regular exercises.   Well did he know how to combine the practices of the cloister with the labours of the apostolic life.st petermartyr1

In private conversation, just as in his sermons, he stimulated the faithful with his personal sentiments of love for the Blessed Virgin.   Because of his influence in their favour the Servites (they were investigated to ensure their orthodoxy) have ever regarded Peter of Verona in the light of a second founder of their order.   After his Canonisation, they placed him on the list of their holy patrons and protectors.

The Bull of Canonisation was sent at once to all bishops and ecclesiastical superiors, with an order that the feast of Peter of Verona should he celebrated every year on 29 April. This day was chosen for the celebration because that of his martyrdom, 6 April often falls in Holy Week, or within the octave of Easter.   Alexander IV and several of his successors, prescribed that the feast should he of the same obligation as that of Saint Dominic. Finally, Clement X, by a papal decree, ordered that the feast of Saint Peter Martyr should have the rank of a duplex for the whole Church.   This was in 1670 and the practice is in use today, wherever the Roman breviary is recited.

However, veneration of Peter of Verona is especially noteworthy in the Order of Friars Preacher and in that of the Servites.   It is particularly the case in Italy, the land of his birth, the field of his labours and the place of his holy death.   There many are the churches, chapels and confraternities erected in his honour.st peter martyr of verona

The body of the martyr is still preserved and venerated in a magnificent chapel of Saint Eustorgio, Milan.   Princes and noblemen of France, Germany, England and Italy (particularly the archbishops of Milan) imitated the king and queen of Cyprus with their rich gifts for the enshrinement of the saint’s relics.   At each time of their various translations (1253, 1340, 1651 and 1736) many miracles were wrought.   Suffice it to say that the Acta Sanctorum, in the third volume for April, where they treat of our martyr, give a long list of attested wonders worked by him.tomb of st peter martyr 439px-Lombardia_Milano4_tango7174.jpg

Saint Thomas of Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor, was an ardent admirer of Peter of Verona.  In 1263 he visited the martyr’s sepulchre.   While at Saint Eustorgio’s Convent, the great theologian and poet wrote the following verses in eulogy of the valiant athlete of the faith, which were afterwards engraved on a marble slab and placed near his tomb, where they may still he read:

Here silent is Christ’s Herald.
Here quenched, the People’s Light.
Here lies the martyred Champion
Who fought Faith’s holy fight.
The Voice the sheep heard gladly,
The light they loved to see
He fell beneath the weapons
Of graceless Cathari.

The Saviour crowns His Soldier.
His praise the people psalm.
The Faith he kept adorns him
With martyr’s fadeless palm.

His praise new marvels utter,
New light he spreads abroad
And now the whole wide city
Knows well the path to God.

Author:

Passionate Catholic. Being Catholic is a way of life - a love affair both with God and Father, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, our most Blessed and Beloved Virgin Mother Mary and the Church. "Religion must be like the air we breathe..."- St John Bosco With the Saints, we "serve the Lord with one consent and serve the Lord with one pure language, not indeed to draw them forth from their secure dwelling-places, not superstitiously to honour them, or wilfully to rely on the, ... but silently to contemplate them for edification, thereby encouraging our faith, enlivening our patience..." Blessed John Henry Newman Prayer is what the world needs combined with the example of our lives which testify to the Light of Christ. This site 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. "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 is a papal fidelity site. Loyal and Obedient to the Current Pope and to the Magisterium United With Him.

3 thoughts on “Saint of the Day – 29 April – St Peter of Verona OP (1205–1252)

  1. And here is high praise indeed:

    “Well did he know how to combine the practices of the cloister with the labours of the apostolic life.”

    One can only hope that a lot of this is on the way later on in this 21st Century—for the clergy as well.

    Liked by 1 person

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