Saint Peter Claver was a Spanish Jesuit priest and missionary who dedicated his life to serving African slaves brought to the New World. He was born on June 26th, 1580, in Verdu, Catalonia, Spain, and died on September 8th, 1654, in Cartagena, Colombia. His feast day is celebrated on September 9th.
Peter Claver joined the Society of Jesus in 1601 and was sent to the missions in South America in 1610. He arrived in Cartagena, Colombia, in 1616, where he was shocked by the appalling conditions of the African slaves who had been forcibly brought there to work on the plantations. He decided to devote his life to their service and vowed to be "the slave of the slaves forever."
Peter Claver tirelessly ministered to the slaves, visiting the slave ships as they arrived in the port and offering them food, medicine, and spiritual consolation. He learned several African languages to communicate with them and baptized an estimated 300,000 slaves over his 40-year ministry. He also fought against the mistreatment and abuse of the slaves by their owners and the authorities, denouncing the slave trade as a grave sin against humanity.
Despite facing opposition and criticism from some members of the Spanish colonial society, Peter Claver remained steadfast in his mission to serve the slaves. He also tended to the sick and dying, often risking his own health to care for them. His compassion and dedication earned him the title of "Apostle of the Blacks" and the admiration of the slaves and free people alike.
Saint Peter Claver died on September 8th, 1654, and was canonized by Pope Leo XIII on January 15th, 1888. He is the patron saint of African missions, black people, race relations, and slaves. His legacy as a champion of human rights continues to inspire people around the world to this day.
Saint Peter Claver's life was a testament to his selflessness and compassion for the most marginalized and oppressed members of society. His example serves as an inspiration for all those who seek to fight against injustice and stand in solidarity with those who suffer.