14 April 2010

Saint Elmo

14 APRIL 2010. Today we celebrate the feast day (optional memorial) of Blessed Peter Gonzalez, a Dominican friar and priest who is renowned by Spanish and Portuguese sailors as "Saint Elmo."

Born in A.D. 1190 in Astorga, Leon, Spain, Blessed Peter was educated by his uncles, the Bishop of Astorga, who bestowed upon Peter the canonry when he was very young, even receiving a papal dispensation to become a canon prior to the meeting the minimum age requirements. However, Blessed Peter's position of canon was pursued for political reasons, not spiritual ones. One day, while dressed in the finery of a canon and riding a horse in a procession, Blessed Peter's horse was spooked and threw him. He landed in a dung heap, to the not-so-quiet delight of many of the onlookers, who disregarded him merely as a political oportunist.

However, embarrassed and angry, Blessed Peter withdrew for a time and, praise be to God, experienced a true conversion of heart. Following this, Blessed Peter resigned as canon and entered the Dominican Order where he became renowned for his preaching. While Blessed Peter accompanied the King, Saint Ferdinand III of Castile and Leon on his expeditions against the Moors, Blessed Peter's true ambition was to preach to the poor. As a preacher, great crowds would gather to hear him.

Most of Blessed Peter's life as a Dominican was devoted to the instruction of the mariners in Galicia and along the coast of Spain. Tradition tells that when Blessed Peter lacked food for those for whom he was caring, we would kneel beside a river and pray. At the moment of his prayer, fish would leap onto the riverbank before him.

Blessed Peter died on 14 April 1246, and is buried at the cathedral in Tui. Peter was beatified in A.D. 1254 by Pope Innocent IV, and although his cultus was confirmed in A.D. 1741 by Pope Benedict XIV, and despite the popular title of Saint Elmo, he has never been formerly canonized.


Almighty God, you bestowed the singular help of Blessed Peter 
on those in peril from the sea. 
By the help of his prayers 
may the light of your grace shine forth in all the storms of this life 
and enable us to find the harbor of everlasting salvation. 
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, 
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, 
one God, for ever and ever.


No comments:

Post a Comment