Saint Peter Claver, Confessor
Peter Claver was a Spanish Jesuit. In Majorca he fell in with the holy lay-brother Alphonsus Rodriguez, who, having already learned by revelation the saintly career of Peter, became his spiritual guide, foretold to him the labours he would undergo in the Indies, and the throne he would gain in heaven. Ordained priest in New Granada, Peter was sent to Cartagena, the great slave-mart of the West Indies; and there he consecrated himself by vow to the salvation of those ignorant and miserable creatures. For more than forty years he laboured in this work. He called himself 'the slave of the slaves.' He was their apostle, father, physician, and friend. He fed them, nursed them with the utmost tenderness in their loathsome diseases, often applying his own lips to their hideous sores. His cloak, which was the constant covering of the naked, though soiled with their filthy ulcers, sent forth a miraculous perfume. His rest after his great labours was in nights of penance and prayer. However spent he might be, when news arrived of a fresh slave-ship, Blessed Peter immediately revived, his eyes brightened, and he was at once on board amongst his dear slaves, bringing them comfort for body and soul. A false charge of reiterating baptism for a while stopped his work. He submitted without a murmur till the calumny was refuted, and then God so blessed his toil that 40,000 negroes were baptized before he went to his reward in 1654.
Charity to our Neighbor.
When you see any one standing in need of your assistance, either for body or soul, do not ask yourself why someone else did not help him, but think to yourself that you have found a treasure. 'Do thou seek nothing in this world save that which Jesus Christ Himself has sought--to sanctify souls, to work, to suffer, nay, to die for their salvation.'--Blessed Peter Claver.
When Easter came, Blessed Peter left the town to search the mountains for the negroes who might be scattered among them. The tropical storms drenched him to the skin, but he never turned nor stopped. When he found a settlement he would never leave it till the last negro was brought to the Sacrament of Penance. He once suddenly left the house where he was staying, and plunged without guide or road into impracticable mountain recesses. None knew whither or why he went; but when he returned pale and worn, it was discovered that he had gone to administer the last Sacraments to three old negroes who had been abandoned by all the world, and had crawled into a ruined hut to die.
'Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is scandalized,
and I am not on fire?'--2 Cor. xi. 29