St. Peter Claver Made Himself An African Slave
“Although I am free in regard to all,
I have made myself a slave to all
so as to win over as many as possible.
I have become all things to all, to save at least some.
All this I do for the sake of the Gospel,
so that I too may have a share in it.” – 1 Cor 9
“Upon seeing the miserable conditions the Africans has to suffer through on those slave ships and the brutal work and treatment as slaves in the new world….St. Peter Claver declared himself ‘the slave of the Negroes forever.’”
St. Peter Claver was a champion for African slaves and his feast day was yesterday. And when you know his story you will see how great Providence was in having the first Mass reading above from 1 Corinthians match up with the celebration of Claver’s memorial.
St. Peter Claver’s story: (Text from Blatholics FB page)
“Saint Peter Claver was born in Spain toward the end of the 16th century at the height of the Spanish a Slave trade.
In 1610 he left his native homeland forever, and was ordained in 1615 once he arrived in the Caribbean.
He was mainly in Cartagena in Colombia, at the time the biggest slave port in the New World. Jesuit Fr. Alfonso de Sandoval, had devoted himself to the service of the slaves for 40 years before Claver arrived to continue his work.
Upon seeing the miserable conditions the Africans has to suffer through on those slave ships and the brutal work and treatment as slaves in the new world….St. Peter Claver declared himself “the slave of the Negroes forever.”
As soon as a slave ship entered the port, Peter Claver moved into its infested hold to minister to the ill-treated and exhausted passengers. After the slaves were herded out of the ship like chained animals and shut up in nearby yards to be gazed at by the crowds, Claver plunged in among them with medicines, food, bread, brandy, lemons, and tobacco. With the help of interpreters he gave basic instructions and assured his brothers and sisters of their human dignity and God’s love. During the 40 years of his ministry, Claver instructed and baptized an estimated 300,000 slaves.
Fr. Claver’s apostolate extended beyond his care for slaves. He became a moral force, indeed, the apostle of Cartagena. He preached in the city square, gave missions to sailors and traders as well as country missions, during which he avoided, when possible, the hospitality of the planters and owners and lodged in the slave quarters instead.
He fell ill and was denied medical care by the Spanish officials for having chastised them all for condoning slavery. After 4 years of neglect he died. He was canonized in 1888 and declared patron saint of missionary work among black people.
In 1909 the largest African American lay organization was founded, the Knights of Peter Claver (@claverfamily ) with a mission of continuing the Saint’s work through and today has more than 100,000 active members.”
St. Peter Claver, slave of slaves for Christ, pray for us!
Picture: SAINT PETER CLAVER by Ignasi Flores Ballarin. Fair Use.