+ Peter was born in 1210 and lived as a monk in the abbey of Santa Maria di Faifula before setting out to live as a hermit on Mount Morrone.
+ Soon, others were drawn to join him in his life of prayer and contemplation and this laid the foundation for a new monastic order—the Celestines—who were later incorporated into the Benedictine Order.
+ Frustrated by the politics he saw tearing the Church apart, Peter traveled to Rome and harshly condemned the conclave of twelve cardinals who had been unable to elect a pope for more than two years. In response, the cardinals chose to elect the eighty-five year old hermit. Peter became known as Pope Celestine V.
+ Out of his depth in this world of political maneuvering and intrigue, Peter resigned as pope after serving for only a few months. Although he wanted nothing more than to return to his hermitage, his successor, the scandalous Pope Boniface VIII, placed Peter under house arrest where he died on May 19, 1296.
+ Saint Peter Celestine was canonized in 1313.
For prayer and reflection
“God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something.”—1 Corinthians 1:27-28
On May 19, the Church also remembers Blessed Raphaël (Louis) Rafiringa. A religious with the De la Salle Christian Brothers from Madagascar, he courageously served the Church in his country, helping continue the brothers’ mission after the French missionaries were expelled because of political conflicts. Blessed Raphaël died in 1919 and was beatified in 2007.
Lord our God, you are the crown of your saints and the glory of the lowly. You called blessed Celestine to serve you humbly both as pope and hermit. By his intercession may we follow the hard road that leads to life eternal. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
(from The Benedictine Supplement: Proper Masses for the Use of the Benedictine Confederation)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.