Dominican Priest and Martyr (1205-1252)
+ Peter was born in Verona to parents who were members of a heretical group known as the Cathars. (The Cathars denied the goodness of the material world and rejected the sacraments and belief in the resurrection of the body.)
+ As a young man, Peter embraced the fullness of the Catholic Faith and, after spending time studying at the University of Bologna, entered the newly formed Order of Preachers. He was clothed in the Dominican habit by Saint Dominic himself.
+ After his ordination, he worked as a preacher in the Lombardy region of Italy and was known for his learning and seems to have also had a reputation as a miracle worker.
+ In 1234 he was named inquisitor for Milan; his jurisdiction was later extended to include all of Northern Italy. His primary task was to work for the conversion of members of the Cathar sect and his success in his mission won him many enemies.
+ On Palm Sunday 1252, he learned that the local Cathar leaders were offering a reward to any who would kill him and in his sermon that day Peter declared, “Let them do their worst, I shall be more powerful dead than alive.”
+ On April 6, he was ambushed as he made his way to Milan. Peter and another Dominican, Brother Dominic, were murdered by a man named Carino. It is reported the Peter died repeating the dying words of Saint Stephen: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:59). A later legend related that as Peter died he traced the words Credo in Deum on the ground in his own blood.
+ Peter was immediately hailed as a martyr and was canonized in 1253, less than one year after his death. He is most commonly honored simply as “Saint Peter Martyr.”
+ Carino, the man who murdered the two friars later experienced a profound conversion and became a Dominican lay brother.
For prayer and reflection
“Contend, O Lord, with my contenders; / fight those who fight me.
Take up your buckler and shield; / arise in my defense, Lord, my mighty help.”—Entrance Antiphon for Monday of Holy Week
Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that, though in our weakness we fail,
we may be revived through the Passion of your Only Begotten Son.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.Access our archives of daily saint biographies here