+ Peter was born in Mirecourt, in the region of Lorraine, which was a center of the Catholic Counter-Reformation in France.
+ He entered the canons regular of the Abbey of Chaumousey in 1585 and was ordained a priest in 1589. His abbot sent him for further university studies, and he is said to know the Summa Theologiae of Saint Thomas Aquinas by heart.
+ In 1597, Peter was assigned to serve in a parish that was entrusted to the care of his community, becoming vicar of the parish of Mattaincourt. He spent the next twenty years of his life working to combat the religious indifference of many in the town, as well as the Calvinist influence of Protestant reformers.
+ To support the poor in his parish, Peter established a community bank from which the local people could borrow money at no interest. He also employed a form of public dialogue in his sermons and classes, helping adult parishioners to better integrate the spiritual or theological themes on which he was focused.
+ In time, the bishops of the region invited him to become a traveling preacher, and he took on this new ministry with great success.
+ In 1597, with Blessed Alix Le Clerc, he established the Congregation of Notre Dame of Canonesses Regular of St. Augustine, who were committed to the free education of children, taking a fourth vow to commit themselves to that work.
+ At the time of his death on December 9, 1640, there were 40 schools being run by the canonesses and Peter had also helped to reform several other communities of canons regular across France, which were later formed into a distinct religious community.
+ Honored for his dedication to education and the pastoral support of the poor, Saint Peter Fourier was canonized in 1897.
For prayer and reflection
“Those who wish to be too prudent, too careful, who never want to run the risk of losing, or leaving, or letting go of something that belongs to them: possessions, rights, just claims, their rest, their peace of mind, sometimes–no, frequently–miss fine occasions to do great service for God and neighbor and to enrich themselves.”—Saint Peter Fourier
On this day, the Church celebrates the memory of Aztec visionary Saint Juan Diego who, on December 9, 1531, received the first of a number of visions of the Mother of God on “Mount Tepeyac,” near Mexico City. In the final vision, on December 12, the Lady left an image of herself on Juan Diego’s cactus-fiber cloak. Today, this image is enshrined in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. Recognizing the long-standing devotion to this indigenous Mexican, Pope Saint John Paul II canonized Juan Diego in 2002.
O God, light of the faithful and shepherd of souls,
who set blessed Peter Fourier in the Church
to feed your sheep by his words and form them by his example,
grant that through his intercession
we may keep the faith he taught by his words
and follow the way he showed by his example.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal: Common of Pastors—For One Pastor)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.