Feast of St. Peter Claver, Sept. 9; A Patron Saint of African Americans


Many blessings! Today, Thursday, Sept. 9, is the Feast of St. Peter Claver, who ministered to enslaved Africans. St. Peter Claver was a Jesuit Priest from Catalonia who served African slaves in Cartagena, Colombia, for 38 years, baptizing more than 300,000. He died in 1654 and was canonized by Pope Leo XIII on Jan.15, 1888. He called himself “the slave of the slaves forever” and is a patron saint of African Americans and of Enslaved Peoples.


The Feast of St. Peter Claver is an occasion for heightened prayer and action to strive for peace in our communities. In a U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Pastoral Letter against racism, entitled Open Wide Our Hearts (USCCBOpenHearts), the Bishops issued an urgent call for conversion. “What is needed, and what we are calling for, is a genuine conversion of heart, a conversion that will compel change, and the reform of our institutions and society. Conversion is a long road to travel for the individual. Moving our nation to a full realization of the promise of liberty, equality, and justice for all is even more challenging. However, in Christ we can find the strength and the grace necessary to make that journey” (p. 4).


In The Sacrament of Charity Pope Benedict XVI spoke eloquently of the power of the Eucharist to bring about “a newness to our social relations” leading to “a determination to transform unjust structures and to restore respect for the dignity of all men and women, created in God’s image and likeness” (no. 89).


The USCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism has developed a number of resources to assist Catholics in praying for conversion and transformation regarding racism in our communities, country and the world. Please see the list below of resources and click on the following link to view, use and share: USCCBAgainstRacismStPeterClaver.


·     St. Peter Claver Prayer Service

·     Memorial of St. Peter Claver Prayers of the Faithful

·     Readings for the Memorial of St. Peter Claver

·     Vespers for the Memorial of St. Peter Claver

·     Excerpt on St. Peter Claver from In Plurimis (Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII on the Abolition of Slavery)

·     Stations of the Cross: Overcoming Racism


This information, in addition to a full library of resources, can help Parishes and individual Parishioners engage in prayer and reflection today, Thursday, Sept. 9, and throughout the year for peace in our communities.


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