+ Peter was born in present-day Papua New Guinea. Raised as a Catholic by his parents (who had converted from their ancestral religion), Peter was encouraged to become a priest, until his father protested, saying that none of the island’s first generations of Christians were yet spiritually “mature” enough to be ordained.
+ In 1930, Peter began to work as a catechist. His friendly personality and natural virtue endeared many to him and he became the unofficial leader of the local catechists.
+ In 1936, Peter married Paula Ia Varpit.
+ Following Japan’s invasion of Papua New Guinea during World War II, all foreign missionaries were imprisoned. Peter responded by organizing prayer services and distributed Holy Communion, baptized adults and children, and cared for the poor.
+ In 1944, the Japanese tightened their control of the island and remove all traces of Christianity. To further their cause, they tried to reintroduce the practice of polygamy. Peter strongly protested, defending a Christian view of marriage, but was arrested a short time later for his opposition to the policy.
+ Although he served out his sentence, Peter was detained in prison and, on July 17, 1945, he was given a lethal injection; he died after hours of intense physical suffering.
+ Blessed Peter To Rot was beatified in 1995.
“Inspired by his faith in Christ, he was a devoted husband, a loving father and a dedicated catechist known for his kindness, gentleness and compassion. Daily Mass and Holy Communion, and frequent visits to our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, sustained him, gave him wisdom to counsel the disheartened, and courage to persevere until death. In order to be an effective evangelizer, Peter To Rot studied hard and sought advice from wise and holy “big men”. Most of all he prayed – for himself, for his family, for his people, for the Church. His witness to the Gospel inspired others, in very difficult situations, because he lived his Christian life so purely and joyfully.”—Pope Saint John Paul II
Almighty and merciful God, who brought your Martyr blessed Peter to overcome the torments of his passion, grant that we, who celebrate the day of his triumph, may remain invincible under your protection against the snares of the enemy. 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: Common of Martyrs)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.