Saint of the Day – 3 March – Blessed Pietro de Geremia OP (1381-1452) Dominican Priest and Friar, renowned and brilliant Preacher, miracle-worker. In addition to his many miracles and conversions of sinners, he founded the University of Catania and help establish several Dominican Monasteries. Born in 1381 at Palermo, Sicily and died on 3 March 1452 in the Convent of Santa Zita, Palermo, Sicily of natural causes. He is also known as Peter Geremia. Patronages – Palermo, Preachers.
Pietro Geremia was born in Palermo on 10 August 1399 to aristocrats. ad He studied at the Bologna college and was perceived to be an excellent law student and his own pride led him to believe this.
One night in 1422 as he meditated on his vain success and what his future would bring, a recently deceased relative knocked on his third floor window. Pietro sat upright and asked who was there. The relative told him that his constant seeking after worldly glory had caused him to be eternally lost. He warned Pietro not to repeat the fatal errors of sin and pride and thus lose his eternal salvation!
The shaken Geremia purchased an iron chain to wear in mortification and began to seriously pray for guidance in his vocation. He received a sign that he was to enter the Order of Preachers.
His enraged father came to Bologna to stop him but saw how changed Pietro was and the peace and happiness which he emanated. He began his novitiate in Fiesole and was Ordained to the Priesthood in 1424. He made his vows in 1423 and returned to Palermo in 1433, where his superiors appointed him Prior at the Convent of Santa Cita in Palermo, Sicily.
His fame as a Preacher caught the attention of St Vincent Ferrer who once visited him and the two discussed spiritual matters at great lengths. Pietro was seen as one of the finest Preachers on the island and preached in the open often because the Churches never could hold the vast number of people who flocked to hear him.
On one particular occasion there was no food for the people and he asked a fisherman for a donation but the fisherman refused him in a rude manner. So he got into a boat and rowed out to sea and made a sign to the fish who broke the nets in the water and followed him back to the shore. The fisherman apologised and so he made another sign to the fish who returned to the nets in the sea. In 1444 he was preaching on repentance in Catania, when Mount Etna erupted. The people begged him to save them and he went to the Saint Agatha Shrine and removed the Saint’s veil. He held the veil towards the flow of lava heading towards the town and the eruption and lava flow ceased.
These and countless other miracles he performed which caused him to be revered as a saint. He raised the dead to life, healed the crippled and the blind and brought obstinate sinners to the feet of God.
Pope Eugene IV (1431-47) had a great appreciation for his skills and during the Council of Florence (1431-45), which briefly reconciled the Orthodox and Catholic Churches, the Pontiff relied on Pietro to help mediate between the two sides.
He died on 3 March 1452 in the Santa Zita Convent in Palermo and was Beatified on 12 May 1784 by Pope Pius VI.