Friday, February 20, 2015

St. Peter Damian: Monk, Bishop, Cardinal, Reformer, and Doctor of the Church



The saint of the day for February 21 is St. Peter Damian, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, who was one of the Church's greatest reformers in the Middle Ages.

Peter was the youngest child born to a large family in Ravenna, Italy in 1007. His parents both died when he was young and he was placed in the care of one of his brothers, who treated him like a slave. His oldest brother, a priest in Ravenna, rescued him and sent him away to study. Peter was brilliant and excelled in his studies (theology and cannon law), later returning to Ravena as a professor. Unable to endure the scandals and distractions of university life, he joined a group of Benedictine monks living in northern Italy. There he became a prior at the young age of 36: a position he held unto his death. While at the hermitage, Peter performed austere penances to the extent that he developed near permanent insomnia and was forced to modify them.

Although living in the cloister, Peter kept close watch on the Church and worked for her purification. He wrote to the pope, urging him to deal with the scandals of the Church in Italy. In 1051, Peter published his treatise on the vices of the clergy, "Liber Gomorrhianus". He fought the scandalous behavior among the clergy of the time and upheld priestly celibacy. He was illustrious and brilliant, simple and outspoken in his denunciation of all heresies and evils and was a great reformer of the Church in troubled times. His personal example and many writings exercised great influence on religious life in the 11th and 12th centuries. One of his greatest works is the biography of Saint Romuald, the founder of his Order.

Pope Stephen IX named Peter a cardinal and Bishop of Ostia. He died in 1072 at the age of 65 and was immediately acclaimed as a saint.  Pope Leo XII declared him a Doctor of the Church in 1823.

St. Peter Damian is the patron of headache sufferers.

Saint Quote:  "Let us faithfully transmit to posterity the example of virtue which we have received from our forefathers." ~ Saint Peter Damian


Prayer of St. Peter Damian to the Blessed Virgin Mary

O holy Virgin,
Mother of God,
help those who implore your assistance.
Turn toward us.
Have you perhaps forgotten us
because you have been elevated
to a position close to God?
No, certainly not.

You know well in what danger you left us.
You know the miserable condition of your servants.
No, it would not benefit such great mercy
as yours to forget such great misery as ours.

Turn toward us, then,
with your power,
for He who is powerful
has made you omnipotent in heaven and on earth.
For you, nothing is impossible.
You can raise even those who are in despair
to a hope of salvation.
There more powerful you are,
the greater should be your mercy.

Turn also to us in your love.
I know.
O Mary, that you are all kindness
and that you love us with a love
that no other love can surpass.
How often you appease the wrath of our Divine Judge,
when He is on the point of punishing us!

All the treasures of the mercy of God
are in your hands.
You will never cease to benefit us, I know,
for you are only seeking an opportunity
to save all sinners
and to shower your mercies upon them.
Your glory is increased when,
through you,
penitents are forgiven and reach heaven.

Turn , then, toward us,
so that we may also be able to go
and see you in heaven.
For the greatest glory that we can have,
after seeing God,
will be to see you,
to love you,
and to be under your protection.
So be pleased to grant our prayer;
for your beloved Son wishes to honour you
by refusing nothing that you ask.

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