Saint of the Day – 17 September – Saint Peter Arbues OSA (1442-1485) Priest Martyr, Canon Regular of the Augustinian Order, learned Professor and Inquisitor. Born as Pedro de Arbués in 1442 at Épila in the region of Saragossa, Spain and died on 17 September 1485 in the Cathedral of Saragossa by being attacked and murdered.
The Roman Martyrology states of him today: “St Pedro of Arbues, first Inquisitor of the faith in the Kingdom of Aragon, who received the Palm of Martyrdom by being barbarously massacred by apostate Jews, for defending courageously, the Catholic faith, according to the duties of his office. He was Canonised by Pope Pius IX in 1867.“
Peter was born to the nobleman Antonio de Arbués and Sancia Ruiz. He studied philosophy perhaps in Huesca but later travelled to Bologna on a scholarship to the Spanish College of Saint Clement which was part of the University of Bologna. n 1473, he obtained his Doctorate in both Canon and Civil Law and he served as a Professor of Moral Philosophical studies or ethics.
Upon his return to Spain he was Ordained and became a member of the Cathedral Chapter of the Canons Regular at La Seo where, in 1474 he made his religious profession.
About that time Ferdinand and Isabella had obtained from Sixtus IV a Bull, to establish in their Kingdom, a tribunal for searching out heretics and especially Jews, who after having received Baptism had relapsed openly or secretly into Judaism – these were known as Marranos. In 1483, the famous Thomas Torquemada,, was appointed Grand Inquisitor over Castile and, being acquainted with the learning and virtue of Peter Arbues, in 1484, named him Inquisitor Provincial in the Kingdom of Aragon.
Peter performed the duties with zeal and justice. Although the enemies of the Inquisition accuse him of cruelty, it is certain that not a single sentence of death can be traced to him. The Marranos, however, whom he had punished hated and resolved to do away with him. One night while kneeling in prayer before the Altar of Our Lady in the metropolitan Cathedral where he used to recite the Office with his brother Canons, attacked him and hired assassins inflicted several wounds from which he died on 17 September 1485. He was just 44 years old.
His remains were entombed in a special Chapel dedicated to him in the Cathedral.
He was Beatified on 20 April 1664, by Pope Alexander VII and Canonised on 29 June 1867 by Pope Pius IX who said in the document formalising the Canonisation (Maiorem caritatem): “The divine wisdom has arranged, that in these sad days, when Jews help the enemies of the Church with their books and money, this decree of sanctity has been brought to fulfillment.“
In explanation, it should be noted, that the most powerful families among the converted Jews seem to have been involved in funding the murder.