Saint of the Day – 21 October – Blessed Peter Capucci OP (1390-1445) Priest, Domincan Friar, Confessor, Penitent, Wonderworker, he was called “the Preacher of Death,” – born as Pedro Capucci in 1390 at Città di Castello, Tiferno, Italy and died on 21 October 1445 of natural causes. He is also known as Pedro de Tiferno, Peter of Tiferno and of Città di Castello. Patronage – Città di Castello.
After an uneventful childhood, Peter Capucci applied for admission to the Dominicans. He and the frail, youthful Saint Antoninus (1389–1459) were both received into the order on the Vigil of the Feast of the Assumption 1405. Their novice master was Blessed Lawrence of Ripafratta. Peter counted the artist-brothers, Blessed Fra Angelico and Fra Benedetto as his friends. Peter spent his novitiate at Cortona, remained there when some of his community moved to Fiesole, was Ordained and began his apostolate all in Cortona.
Not much about Peter is truly remarkable when he is viewed in the light of his neighboring luminaries but he glittered enough to have gained the attention of the Church. He was noted for regularity, patience and humility–virtues not terribly common in any age. He took upon himself the job of begging for alms as a means of atoning for his noble birth. Of course, just as we might treat the homeless, some treated Peter rudely but that did not disturb him. He quietly persisted in his humble work to ensure that his brothers had food and that there were alms for the poor. We are told that one rich wine merchant refused Peter, saying that the barrels in the cellar were all empty. A little later he found to his horror that they were indeed all empty. He immediately sent for the friar, apologised and begged him to bless the barrels and restore the wine–which Peter did without hesitation.
Other miracles were attributed to Peter, too. A woman’s withered hand was restored. Two unjustly condemned men were miraculously preserved from execution. Once, walking through the cloister, Peter came upon a disreputable man. Peter prophesied that the man would die within a day. The man laughed but died in the middle of the night after having sent for Peter to give him the sacraments. Peter Capucci became known as “the Preacher of Death,” because he used to preach with a skull in his hands. He apparently had the ability to read hearts and could expertly point out uncomfortable truths to unwilling listeners.
When Peter died, he was buried in a humble grave. Miracles began to occur there; thus, his fame grew. A prominent man who had been paralysed for three years, received the use of his limbs at the grave, after he had promised to pay the expenses for an annual celebration in Peter’s honour. In 1597, Peter’s relics were moved to a more suitable place (Benedictines, Dorcy).
Blessed Peter’s cultus was confirmed by Pope Pius VII with an official Beatification on 11 May 1816.
O God, who hast declared that Thy faithful,
by continually remembering their latter end,
shall never sin, grant, through the prayers
and example of Blessed Peter, Thy Confessor,
that we may so bear in mind our temporal death,
that, by continually weeping over the sins we have committed,
we may avoid eternal death.
Through Christ our Lord.