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Saint Peter Claver

AKA: Pedro Claver Corbero
Slave of the Blacks
Slave of the Slave

Born: 1581 in Verdu, Catalonia, Spain

Died: September 8, 1654 in Cartegena, Colomibia (Natural Causes)

Venerated: Catholic Church
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Beatified: September 21, 1851 by Pope Blessed Pius IV

Canonized: January 15, 1888 by Pope Leo XIII

Feast Day: September 9

Patronages: African missions
Against Slavery
Inter-racial Justice
Places: Colombia


Saint Peter Claver was born at Verdu, Catalonia, Spain, in 1580, of impoverished parents descended from ancient and distinguished families. He studied at the Jesuit College of Barcelona, entered the Jesuit novitiate at Tarragona in 1602 and took his final vows on August 8, 1604. While studying philosophy at Majorca, the young religious was influenced by Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez to go to the Indies and save “millions of those perishing souls.”

In 1610, he landed at Cartagena (modern Colombia), the principal slave market of the New World, where 1,000 slaves were brought every month. After his ordination in 1616, he dedicated himself to the service of the black slaves - a work that was to last for 33 years. He labored unceasingly for the salvation of the slaves and the abolition of the slave trade, and the love he lavished on them was something that transcended the natural order.

Boarding the slave ships as they entered the harbor, he would hurry to the revolting inferno of the hold, and offer whatever poor refreshments he could afford; he would care for the sick and dying, and instruct the slaves through black catechists, before administering the sacraments. Through his efforts, 300,000 souls entered the Church. Furthermore, he did not lose sight of his converts when they left the ships, but followed them to the plantations to which they were sent, encouraged them to live as Christians, and prevailed on their masters to treat them humanely. He died in 1654 and was canonized in 1888 by Pope Leo XIII.

Prayer: God, You conferred on Saint Peter Claver a remarkable love and patience to help Your enslaved people and bring them to a knowledge of Your Name. Through his intercession, help us to seek equality for all races. Amen.