04 June 2010

Saint Peter of Verona

4 JUNE 2010. Today the the Dominican Order celebrates the memorial of Saint Peter of Verona, a thirteenth century friar, priest, and martyr.

Peter was born in Verona, Italy in A.D. 1205, and later attended the University of Bologna, where tradition records that he maintained his orthodoxy in the faith and met Saint Dominic at the age of 15. Afterwards, Saint Peter joined the Order and became a noted preacher in Northern and Central Italy.

From the decade of A.D. 1230 onward, Saint Peter preached against heresy in Italy. In A.D. 1234, Pope Gregory IX appointed Saint Peter as the inquisitor for Northern Italy. In that role, it is said that Saint Peter evangelized the whole of Italy, preaching in Rome, Florence, Bologna, Genoa, and Como.

In A.D. 1251, in recognition of Saint Peter's strict adherence, austere lifestyle, and zeal for teaching, Pope Innocent IV appointed Peter the inquisitor of Lombardy. Although history does not record much in the way of official acts of Saint Peter in this role, there is one recorded declaration of clemency issued for those confessing heresy or sympathy for heresy.

Because Saint Peter preached effectively against heresy, a group of Cathars plotted to kill him, and hired an assasin--Carino of Balsamo--to accomplish the murderous task. On 6 April 1252, while Saint Peter was returning to Milan from Como along with another friar, Dominic, the assasin attacked the pair on a lonely spot near Barlassina, cutting off the top of Saint Peter's head with an ax and mortally wounding Friar Dominic. Saint Peter was killed in the attack and Friar Dominic died five days later in Meda, but history records that Saint Peter began reciting the Apostle's Creed as he was attacked, dying with a prayer on his lips.

Saint Peter's body was carried to Milan and laid in an ornate mausoleum in the Church of Sant'Eustorgio, where many miracles have been attributed to him at his tomb.

Pope Innocent IV canonized Saint Peter on 25 March 1253, less than a year after his martyrdom, making Saint Peter of Verona the fastest papally canonized saint in the history of the Church.

post scriptum.--Carino of Balsamo, killer of Saint Peter, later confessed his crime and converted from heresy to the true faith. He was eventually accepted into the Dominican Order as a lay brother at the convent of Forli.


Grant we beseech Thee, 
O Almighty God, that with fitting devotion 
we may follow the faith of blessed Peter, 
Thy martyr, 
who in the spreading of that same faith, 
was found worthy to win the palm of martyrdom. 
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, 
Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, 
world without end. 


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