September 8th 1654 - Peter Claver
† in Cartagena/Columbia
He was born 1580 in Verdú (Catalonia). His deeply faithful parents were simple farmers. As a student in Barcelona he entered the Society of Jesus. On August 7th 1602 he began the Noviciate in Tarragona. During his Interstice in Mallorca he was inspired for the mission work in South America by Brother Alfons Rodriguez, who was doorkeeper at the college in Palma.
After the study of theology in Barcelona he left on April 15th 1610 for the mission in Colombia. Three groups of people lived there: Indios, Europeans, and from Africa imported Negroes, who were treated as slaves. Each time, when a ship with slaves in Cartagena arrived, Pedro saw the emergency, the misery, the diseases of the Negroes - and their degradation. To help the slaves Pedro had furnished a cell beside the college. There he had stored clothes, tobacco, dates, sugar, and others. His good aid 'Sandoval' spoke several African languages.
Pedro kept also a baptismal register. There he had, during the thirty four years that he had worked at the port, listed more than 300.000 names. Each baptized got a medal, which he carried around his neck, as indication that he was a Christian. Pedro provided also for faith instructions, and looked after the patients, the prisoners, and those who were sentenced to death. And that all the the more, when he had been ordained priest on March 19th 1616 in Cartagena.
Since 1651 he had to give up his work to a large extent. Half paralysed and racked with pain he offered his suffering for the Negroes. When he lay on the deathbed, he was visited by many Negroes, by the bishop, and other people - rich and poor. He died on September 8th 1654. In 1888 he was canonized by Pope Leo XIII, and since 1985 he is venerated as Patron of the Human Rights.
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