News
St. Peter Claver, SJ
Society of Jesus Celebrates Feast of St. Peter Claver, SJ

Today is the feast day of Saint Peter Claver, a Jesuit missionary known as the patron saint of slaves, African missions and interracial justice. St. Claver spent his life serving African slaves who were brought to Colombia during the 17th century.

Born on June 26, 1580, in Catalonia, Spain, St. Claver studied at the University of Barcelona and joined the Jesuits at age 20 in 1602. While studying philosophy at Majorca in 1605, St. Claver developed a friendship with Jesuit Brother Alphonsus Rodriguez. Br. Rodriguez, who spent his days doing menial work as a doorkeeper, encouraged St. Claver to become a missionary in the Spanish colonies in America.

In 1610, St. Claver voyaged from Spain to Cartagena, Colombia, where, after five years of further study, he was ordained a priest. Despite Pope Paul III's repeated condemnations of slavery during the previous century, European colonists continued importing African slaves to work on plantations and in mines. St. Claver threw himself into his ministry, bringing aid to the African slaves despite his own health problems and the language barrier between himself and the population he served.

With the help of multi-lingual catechists, St. Claver boarded every slave ship that entered the harbor. He was able to work among the slaves, offering immediate relief with medicines, biscuits, brandy, tobacco and lemons. “We must speak to them with our hands,” he said, “before we try to speak to them with our lips.” Whenever he came upon a baby born during the voyage or a dying slave, St. Claver would stop to baptize them immediately.

Throughout his work, St. Claver survived on minimal amounts of food and sleep. His life of humility and penance led to miraculous occurrences — as when he healed the sick with the touch of his cloak or appeared surrounded by a supernatural light during his hospital visits.

St. Peter Claver, SJ

In the last years of his life, St. Claver became sick with the plague and was too ill to leave his room. When he was anointed with the oil of the Sacrament of the Sick in 1654, Cartagenians crowded into his room to see him for the last time, treating it as a shrine.

He died on September 8, 1654, after having baptized and taught the faith to more than 300,000 slaves during his four decades in Cartagena.

He was beatified by Pius IX on July 16, 1850, and canonized along with his friend St. Alphonsus Rodriguez on January 15, 1888, by Pope Leo XIII.

In the video below, Jesuit Father James Kubicki talks about the life of St. Peter Claver:

[Sources: Catholic News Agency, St. Peter Claver Church, Ignatian Spirituality, New Advent]





Recent News

October 9, 2018 - Father Robert Joseph Schlim, SJ, longtime teacher in Spokane schools, died at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center, Los Gatos, California, October 3, 2017. He was 90 years of age, 68 years a Jesuit, and 56 years a priest.

October 2, 2018 - A new video series narrated by Fr. Chris Calderón, SJ, explains each step of Jesuit formation: novitiate, studies, regency, theology and tertianship.

September 30, 2018 - Jesuit Scholastics studying Philosophy spend their first summer on service immersion programs. The rural villages of Alakanuk, Bethel and Newtok in western Alaska were the frontier destinations for Shane Liesegang, SJ, John Meyers, SJ, Jason McCreery, SJ, Raymond Parcon, SJ, and James Millikan, SJ. Their mission was to contribute their talents wherever needed.

September 17, 2018 - Ms. Kim Cavnar, Principal of St. Francis Xavier School, received Loyola University of Chicago’s 2018 Damen Award from the Institute of Pastoral Studies on Wednesday, September 12, 2018.

September 12, 2018 - Father Michael J. Mandala, SJ, emeritus president of Verbum Dei High School, Los Angeles, died September 9, 2018 at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center, Los Gatos, California. He suffered from pancreatic cancer. He was 71 years of age and had been a member of the Jesuit Order for 54 years, 41 years a priest.

September 5, 2018 - Father John J. (“Hex”) Kindall, SJ, longtime high school teacher/principal and pastor in schools and parishes throughout the Pacific Northwest, died August 25, 2018 at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center, Los Gatos, California. He was 91 years of age, a Jesuit for 74 years, and 61 years a priest.

September 2, 2018 - The Jesuits West Prayer for September centers on St. Peter Claver, SJ, whose feast day is September 9. From 1610 until his death in 1654, Peter Claver, ministered to the slaves brought from Africa to Cartagena, Colombia. Peter signed his name, “slave of the slaves forever.”

view all news

Search news

Publications

Mission Magazine - Spring 2018

Mission Magazine - Fall 2017

Mission Magazine - Fall 2016


Companions
Summer, 2018

Companions
Fall, 2017

Update
Summer, 2017


Loyola Institute for Spirituality
Loyola Institute for Spirituality (LIS), founded in 1997, is located in Orange, CA. LIS provides many programs and services for individuals, parishes, and dioceses throughout Southern California and beyond.