Marist Priest and Martyr: 1803-1841
+ Peter Chanel was born into a large family near Lyons, France.
+ Ordained a priest in 1827, he later discerned a call to serve in foreign missions and entered the newly founded Congregation of Marists in 1831.
+ The Marists had been entrusted with the spiritual care of all of the region of Western Oceania. Peter made his mission base on the island of Futuna. Although he had great success at first, he soon encountered resistance from certain leaders of the indigenous population. Peter’s diary showed that he always trusted in Divine Providence, despite the challenges he faced.
+ When the local king’s son asked for baptism, the king sent a group of warriors to kill the priest and Peter was martyred on April 28, 1841.
+ Saint Peter Chanel was canonized in 1954 and is honored as the proto-martyr and patron saint of Oceania.
Following Saint Peter Chanel’s martyrdom, other missionaries were sent to Futuna in a very short time, most of the island’s population became Christian, including Musumusu, the king who had ordered Peter’s murder. When the king was dying, he asked to be buried outside the church in Poi, where Peter was buried, so that those who visited the martyr’s grave would have to walk over his to get to it.
“Still with invincible perseverance he pursued his missionary tasks on both the human and religious level, relying on the example and words of Christ: There is one who sows and another who reaps. And he constantly prayed for help from the Mother of God, to whom he was especially devoted.”—from a Eulogy for Saint Peter Chanel
O God, who for the spreading of your Church
crowned Saint Peter Chanel with martyrdom,
grant that, in these days of paschal joy,
we may so celebrate the mysteries of Christ’s Death and Resurrection
as to bear worthy witness to newness of life.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.