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September 9

St Peter Claver

Saint Peter Claver

Priest, “The Saint of the Slaves”

(1580 – 1654)

To do the will of God, man must despise his own; the more he dies to himself, the more he will live to God.

Saint Peter Claver

Saint’s Life Story

His Early Studious Life 

Peter was born in June 26, 1580, in Verdu, Catalonia, Spain into a devoutly Catholic farming family.  He studied at the University of Barcelona and joined the Jesuits at the age of twenty at Tarragona. He studied further at Montesione College at Palma, Majorca and was greatly influenced by St. Alphonus Rodriguez who convinced him to embark on missionary labors in the New World and save “millions of those perishing souls” (Hoever).

Missionary Priest in Columbia

After further study at Barcelona, Peter was sent on a missionary to Cartagena in present day Columbia in 1610 and was ordained around 1615. Cartagena was an important center of slave trade and Peter found large number of West African sales who had been brought to the Americas to work in the Spanish colonies. Peter joined up Father Alfonse de Sandovel in trying to alleviate the horrible conditions of the slaves who poured into the city. These conditions were so deplorable that Peter dedicated himself by a special vow to the service of the slaves.  

Served Slaves

Boarding the slave ships as they entered the harbor, he would hurry to the bowels of the ship, and offer whatever refreshments he could afford and care for the sick and dying, before administering the sacraments.  Peter worked in the yards where the slaves were penned after being disembarked from the West Africa. He ministered to them with food and medicine and instructed them in the faith. Peter pleaded with the owners to improve the slave’s conditions and visited plantations around Cartagena to make sure the few laws for the protection of the slaves were enforced. He also encouraged these newly converted slaves to live as Christians. During his efforts. he endured humiliation and resistance from local officials who did not like the changes Peter was trying to bring about.  

His Death

Even after Peter was stricken with the plague and was ill, he continued his works on a much-reduced scale until his death on September 8, 1654. Through Peter’s efforts, it is estimated that 300,000 Africans were baptized and 5,000 confessions per year were heard over his 40 years of service to the slave community. 

Beatified:           July 20, 1850 by Pope Pius IX

Canonized:        January 15, 1888 by Pope Leo XIII

Feast Day:         September 9

Patron Saint:    Against Slavery; Ministry to African-Americans; Columbia; Slaves



Saint Peter Claver truly internalized Jesus’ message of compassion and love to all, especially the forgotten, the poor, and the sick. At a time when nobody felt compassion for, let alone helped, African slaves, Saint Peter Claver devoted his life to helping them. In many people’s eyes, this likely made Saint Peter Claver an outcast.

Are there people, or groups of people, in your life or your community who are often despised and looked down on? How could you more fully love them as Saint Peter Claver loved the slaves?

Source: Saint Peter Claver (1581-1654) | Saint Mary’s Press (


St. Peter Claver, we ask for your intercession for racial equality in our nation and in our world. We ask for the courage to fight for justice for those who are not treated as humans.

St. Peter Claver, pray for us! Amen.

Saint Links 

All Saints & Martyrs – Saint Peter Claver

American Magazine – Who is St. Peter Claver?

AnaStpaul – Saint of the Day – 9 September – St Peter Claver S.J.

Catholic Culture – St Peter Claver

Catholic Exchange – St. Peter Claver (Priest and Missionary)

Catholic Fire – Saint of the Day: Saint Peter Claver

Catholic Ireland – Sep 10 – St Peter Claver died.1654) Saint of the slaves

Catholic News Agency – St. Peter Claver Feast Day: Sep 09

CatholicSaints.Info – Saint Peter Claver

Cradio – St Peter Claver

Independent Catholic News – St Peter Claver

Franciscan Media – Saint Peter Claver

Loyola Press – Saint Peter Claver Feast day September 9

My Catholic Life – Saint Peter Claver

Newman Ministry – Saint Peter Claver

Saints, Feasts, and Family -Saint Peter Claver’s Story

Saint Mary’s Press -Saint Peter Claver (1581-1654)

Saint of the Day – September 9 St. Peter Claver

Saint Resources -St Peter Claver

uCatholic – St Peter Claver

Wikipedia -Peter Claver

Video Link

Saint Peter Claver – YouTube (Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network – USA)