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February 21

St Peter Damian February 21

Saint Peter Damian

Cardinal, Doctor of the Church

(Around 1007 – 1072)

“Nobody can fight properly and boldly for the faith if he clings to a fear of being stripped of earthly possessions.

Saint Peter Damian

Saint’s Life Story

An Orphan Youth

Peter was the youngest child born to a large family in Ravenna, Italy in 1007. His parents both died when he was young. Peter was placed in the care of one of his brothers, who treated him like a slave and had him work as a swineherd. His oldest brother, a priest in Ravenna, rescued him and sent him away to be educated in Faenza and then to Parma.

Professor and Hermit

Peter was brilliant and excelled in his studies (theology and cannon law), later returning to Ravena as a professor. Unable to endure the scandals and distractions of university life, he joined a group of Benedictine monks of Fonte Avelana, living in northern Italy. He became a hermit and devoted himself to intensive study of the Scriptures.


Around 1043, the monks elected Peter as their abbot.  While at the hermitage, Peter performed austere penances to the extent that he developed near permanent insomnia and was forced to modify them. Although living in the cloister, Peter kept close watch on the Church and worked for her purification. He wrote to the pope, urging him to deal with the scandals of the Church in Italy.


In 1051, Peter published his treatise on the vices of the clergy, “Liber Gomorrhianus“. He fought the scandalous behavior among the clergy of the time and upheld priestly celibacy. In 1053, he wrote “Liber Gratissimus”, a defense of the legitimacy of the simonical ordinations. Peter was illustrious and brilliant, simple and outspoken in his denunciation of all heresies and evils and was a great reformer of the Church in troubled times. His personal example and many writings exercised great influence on religious life in the 11th and 12th centuries. One of his greatest works is the biography of Saint Romuald, the founder of his Order.

Clerical Reformer

Around the end of 1059, Peter was sent as legate to Milan by Pope Nicholas II. So bad was the state of things at Milan, that benefices (a reward received in exchange for services rendered and as a retainer for future services) were openly bought and sold, and the clergy publicly married the women with whom they lived with. The resistance of the clergy of Milan to the reform of Ariald the Deacon and Anselm of Lucca rendered a contest so bitter that an appeal was made to the Holy See.

Nicholas II sent Damian and the Bishop of Lucca as his legates. The party of the irregular clerics took alarm and raised the cry that Rome had no authority over Milan. Peter boldly confronted the rioters in the cathedral and proved to them the authority of the Holy See with such effect that all parties submitted to his decision.

Peter exacted first a solemn oath from the archbishop and all his clergy that for the future no preferment should be paid for; then, imposing a penance on all who had been guilty, he reinstated in their benefices all who undertook to live in celibacy. The prudent decision was attacked by some of the rigorists at Rome but was not reversed.

Bishop of Ostia

Pope Stephen IX named Peter a cardinal and Bishop of Ostia. He died in 1072 at the age of 65. He was never formally canonized. Peter Damian was made a saint in 1823 and Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XII on September 27, 1828 with a feast day which is now celebrated on February 21 (rather than February 23 that was his feast day prior to 1969). Saint Peter Damian is represented in art as a cardinal bearing a knotted rope (the disciplina) in his hand. He also sometimes is depicted as a pilgrim holding a papal Bull, to signify his many legations. 

Born:                   1007 in Ravenna, Italy

Died:                   February 22, 1072 in Ravenna, Italy

Beatified:            N/A

Canonized:         1823 by Pope Leo XII (cultus confirmation)

Feast Day:          February 21 (formerly February 23)

Patron Saint:    Faenza, Italy; Headaches, Insomnia



Sometimes we take the people who are more kind and caring towards us for granted. Saint Peter Damian, however, was not one of these people. He was so thankful for the kind and loving treatment that he received from his brother, Damian, that he took his name.

Do you show your appreciation for those who love and care for you? Ask the Lord to help you never take good people, or good works, for granted.


Saint Peter Damian, faithful servant of God and defender of the Church, you who lived a life of humility and penance, teach us to turn away from the temptations of the world and to embrace the path of righteousness and holiness.

Intercede for us before the throne of God, that we may find strength in times of temptation, wisdom in times of doubt, and the grace to persevere in our faith.

Oh, great Doctor of the Church, you who dedicated your life to prayer and contemplation, help us to deepen our relationship with God and to seek His will in all things.

St. Peter Damian , pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

Aleteia – Saints who fought abuses in the Church

Anastpaul – Saint of the Day – 21 February – St Peter Damian OSB (1007-1072) Doctor of the Church

Angelus News – Saint of the Day: Peter Damian – Rev. Alban Butler. Volume II: February. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.
February 23 B. Peter Damian, Cardinal, Bishop of Ostia

Catholic Culture – St. Peter Damian

Catholic Ireland – Feb 21 – St Peter Damian (11th cent.)

CatholicSaints.Info – Saint Peter Damian

Franciscan Media – Saint Peter Damian

Loyola Press – Saint Peter Damian Feast Day February 21

My Catholic Life – Saint Peter Damian, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

New Advent – – Toke, L. (1911). St. Peter Damian. In The Catholic Encyclopedia

Saints, Feast, Family – St Peter Damian

Saint Mary Press – Saint Peter Damian (1007-1072)

uCatholic – Saint Peter Damian, Doctor of the Church

Video Link

St. Peter Damian – YouTube (Cradio)