Saint of the Day – 4 April – Saint Peter of Poitiers (c 1130-1215) Bishop, Scholastic Theologian, Writer, Peacemaker. Born at Poitiers or in its neighbourhood about 1130 and died in Paris in 1215.
The Roman Martyrology reads: “In Poitiers in Aquitaine, France, St Peter, Bishop, who favoured the birth of the Order of Fontevrault.”
Peter studied at the University of Paris, where he became Professor of Theology and lectured for thirty-eight years. In 1169 he succeeded Peter Comestor in the Chair of Scholastic Theology. His lectures were so brilliant as to inspire the enmity of Gauthier de St-Victor, one of the bitterest opponents of Scholasticism, who ranked him with Gilbert de la Porrée, Abelard and Peter Lombard in the pamphlet wherein he tries to throw ridicule on the four doctors, under the name of the “Four Labyrinths of France.”
Appointed as Chancellor of the Church of Paris ,Peter displayed great zeal on behalf of poor students and to supply their want of text-books, which were very expensive, he had a kind of synopsis engraved on the walls of the classrooms for their assistance.
In 1182, Peter was appointed Bishop of Poitiers, where he remained until his death in 1215. In 1191 he was appointed by Pope Celestine III to settle a dispute between the Abbeys of St-Eloi and St-Victor. He was a constant correspondent of Pope Celestine III and Pope Innocent III. Peter publicly denounced the sacrilegious tyranny and license of Philip I and William VI, Count of Poitiers and Duke of Aquitaine. and supported Bl Robert d’Arbriselle fin the foundation of the Fontrevault Abbey. In 1193 he succeeded Hilduin as Chancellor of Notre Dame.
He wrote commentaries, still unedited, on Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and the Psalms. A chronological and genealogical abridgment of the Bible is also attributed to him. In his magnum opus, Sententiarum libri quinque, published before 1170, he applied the dialectical method to theology.