Saint of the Day – 15 June – Blessed Pietro Nolasco Perra OdeM (1574-1606) Priest of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy (the Mercedarian Friars), Missionary. Born in Gergei, Sardinia, Sicily in 1574 as Pietro Giovanni Perra and died in Valencia, Spain on 15 June 1606 of natural causes aged 32.
The Order of Mercedaries was founded in Spain by St Peter Nolasco (1180-1245), with the main purpose of the ‘redemption’ of the Christians enslaved by the Arab Moors and brought to the Muslim countries of North Africa.
After the era of Arab domination, the Order continued its apostolic work and evangelisation, spreading to all the countriess of Europe, but also to America (with Christopher Columbus there were also some Mercedarian Chaplains); -by now the ‘redemption’ was intended, above all, as liberation from the sin of the misled souls.
As for Italy, the first Convent was founded in Cagliari in Sardinia, at that time subject to the Aragonese dominion and it was King Alfonso IV of Aragon in 1335 who made it a gift to the Order.
Then in 1442 Naples followed and in 1463 Palermo and little by little foundations followed in other cities of Italy, including, in 1569 that of St Rufina in Rome, followed by the convent of St Adrian. And from the ancient Convent of the Blessed Virgin Mother of Bonaria in Cagliari, the Order received the gift of a holy figure of a Mercedarian Friar, Pietro Nolasco Perra.
He was sent to Valencia to continue his studies and in this City in 1603, he was Ordained a Priest. Documents of the time attest his presence in Valencia on 6 July 1604 and in the following years, in the Chapter meetings for the admission of other religious to the Order.
He was an example of the interior life, of obedience and humility in brotherly love. During the celebration of his Mass, the faithful who participated, were moved by the great devotion with which he prayed. He had words of comfort and encouragement for anyone who approached him, especially during Confession.
He died in Valencia at the age of only 32, on 15 June 1606, leaving behind the fame of a saint;. One of his companions, Fra ‘Machin, an eminent scholar, narrated that Fra’ Pietro Nolasco Perra on the verge of death, asked his superiors to command him to die, so that his death would be the daughter of obedience and thus have greater merits before God. Two years after his departure, collections of documentation and testimonies of those who had known him were opened, by order of the Archbishop of Cagliari, Msgr. Francesco Desquivel.
Two years after his death, the Archbishop of Cagliari, Francisco Desquivel began to collect information in order to start the Beatification process – from these data it is clear, that even in his native country, in contact with objects that belonged to him, there were numerous and miraculous occurences. The process of Beatification was thus initiated.
In 1652 a delegation was sent to Valencia to obtain some relics of “santu Impera” (Sician dialect) – fragments of his clothes and an arm were thus brought to the island. At the same time, a Church began to be built in his hometown, so that, as soon as Pietro Nolasco Perra was declared a saint, the saint and his relics could be publicly venerated in a suitable place. However, at the beginning of the 18th century, the Beatification process ran aground due to the mysterious disappearance of the file and, for the same reason, has not resumed.
The search for that dossier is currently underway, also because the Sardinian Catholic world, led by Bishop Antioco Piseddu , is asking for the investigation to be reopened. According to some sources, Pietro is currently only a Servant of God and Venerable but he is remembered by the Mercedarian Order as Blessed and celebrates him today.