CNA Staff, Sep 9, 2020 / 13:00 pm
September 9 marks the Feast of St. Peter Claver, a Jesuit priest who ministered to African slaves in Colombia in the 17th century. The U.S. bishops have invited Catholics to observe the day with fasting and prayer for an end to racism in the United States.
Peter Claver was born in 1581 to a devout farming family in the Catalonia region of Spain. He attended the University of Barcelona as a young man before joining the Jesuits at the age of 20.
During his studies as a novice, Peter met and developed a friendship with Alphonsus Rodriguez, an older lay Jesuit brother who performed menial work but was renowned for his holiness and insight. Eventually Rodriguez told Peter that he felt God was calling Peter to the colonies of New Spain in the Americas. Leo XIII would later canonize both men on the same day, almost two centuries later.
Taking the advice of Rodriguez, Peter volunteered for the new colonies, and arrived in Cartagena, a port city in present-day Colombia, in 1610. He continued his studies there and was ordained a priest in Cartagena in 1615.