Peter of Alcantara


Peter of Alcantara

Infobox Saint
name= Saint Peter of Alcantara
birth_date= 1499
death_date= 18 October 1562
feast_day= 18 October
venerated_in= Roman Catholic Church


imagesize= 250px
caption= "The apparition of John of Capistrano to Peter of Alcantara". Luca Giordano.
birth_place=
death_place=
titles=Confessor
beatified_date=1622
beatified_place=
beatified_by=Gregory XV
canonized_date=1669
canonized_place=
canonized_by= Clement IX
attributes=
patronage=Brazil; Extremadura; Nocturnal Adorers
major_shrine=
suppressed_date=
issues=

Saint Peter of Alcantara (Spanish : San Pedro de Alcántara) (1499—October 18, 1562) was a Spanish Franciscan. He was born at Alcántara, Spain. His father, Peter Garavita, was the governor of the place, and his mother was of the noble family of Sanabia. After a course of grammar and philosophy in his native town, he was sent, at the age of fourteen, to the University of Salamanca. Returning home, he became a Franciscan of the Stricter Observance in the convent at Manxaretes in 1515. At the age of twenty-two he was sent to found a new community of the Stricter Observance at Badajoz. He was ordained priest in 1524, and the following year made guardian of the convent of St. Mary of the Angels at Robredillo. A few years later he began preaching with much success. He preferred to preach to the poor; his sermons, taken largely from the Prophets and Sapiential Books, breathe the tenderest human sympathy. The reform of the "Discalced Friars" had, at the time when Peter entered the order, besides the convents in Spain, the Custody of Santa Maria Pietatis in Portugal, subject to the General superior of the Observantists.

Having been elected minister (i.e. superior) of St. Gabriel's religious province in 1538, Peter set to work at once. At the chapter of Plasencia in 1540 he drew up the Constitutions of the Stricter Observants, but his severe ideas met with such opposition that he renounced the office of provincial and retired with John of Avila into the mountains of Arabida in Portugal, where he joined Father Martin a Santa Maria in his life of eremitical solitude, but soon other friars came to join him, and several little communities were established; Peter was chosen guardian and master of novices at the convent of Pallais. In 1560 these communities were erected into the Province of Arabida. Returning to Spain in 1553 he spent two more years in solitude; then he journeyed barefoot to Rome and obtained permission of Julius III to found some poor convents in Spain under the jurisdiction of the general of the Conventuals. Convents were established at Pedrosa, Plasencia and elsewhere; in 1556 they were made a commissariat, with Peter as superior, and in 1561 a religious province under the title of St. Joseph. Not discouraged by the opposition and ill-success his efforts at reform had met with in St. Gabriel's province, Peter drew up the constitutions of the new province with even greater severity. The reform spread rapidly into other provinces of Spain and Portugal.

In 1562 the province of St. Joseph was put under the jurisdiction of the general of the Observants, and two new custodies were formed: St. John Baptist's in Valencia and St. Simon's in Galicia (see Friars Minor). Besides the above-named associates of Peter may be mentioned St. Francis Borgia, John of Avila and Venerable Louis of Granada. In St. Teresa, Peter perceived a soul chosen of God for a great work, and her success in the reform of Carmel (see Carmelites) was in great measure due to his counsel, encouragement and defence. It was a letter from St. Peter (14 April, 1562) that encouraged her to found her first monastery at Avila, 24 August of that year. St. Teresa's autobiography is the source of much of our information regarding Peter's life, work, gifts of miracles and prophecy.

He often went into ecstasy. He is purported to have slept for only one and a half hours each day, inside his room which had a floor area of only four and a half square feet. While in prayer and contemplation, he was often seen in ecstasies and levitation. In his deathbed, he was offered a glass of water which he refused, saying that "Even my Lord Jesus Christ thirsted on the Cross...". He died while on his knees on October 18, 1562 in a monastery at Arenas.

Legacy and veneration

Besides the Constitutions of the Stricter Observants and many letters on spiritual subjects, especially to St. Teresa, he composed a short treatise on prayer, which has been translated into all European languages. In confirmation of his virtues and mission of reformation God worked numerous miracles through his intercession and by his very presence. He was beatified by Gregory XV in 1622, and canonized by Clement IX in 1669. His liturgical feast is on 18 October, the day of his death. Because the feast of Saint Luke the Evangelist is observed on that day, his feast was assigned to 19 October, when in 1670 it was first included in the Roman Catholic calendar of saints. It was removed from that calendar in 1969 because of his limited importance worldwide. ["Calendarium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 143] But the inclusion of Saint Peter of Alcantara in the Roman Martyrology as one of the saints of 18 October ["Martyrologium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2001 ISBN 88-209-7210-7)] means that he may still be given official honours everywhere.

Saint Peter of Alcantara is in fact the patron saint of Nocturnal Adorers. In 1826, he was named patron saint of Brazil, and in 1962 (the fourth centenary of his death), of Estremadura. He is also venerated as patron saint of Saint Peter of Alcantara Parish in Taal, Bocaue, Bulacan, Philippines which is composed of Bgys. Caingin, Taal Luwasan, Taal Hulo, Tambubong and Batia, under the canonical jurisdiction of the Diocese of Malolos. The town of San Pedro de Alcántara in the province of Málaga is named after him.

References

ee Also

* Diocese of Shrewsbury Cathedral of Our Lady Help of Christians and St Peter of Alcantara, United Kingdom of Great Britain

External links

* [http://www.paxetbonum.net/saints/peter.jpgImage of Peter]
*CathEncy|title=Peter of Alcántara|url=http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11770c.htm
* [http://www.saintpetersbasilica.org/Statues/Founders/PeterofAlcantara/Peter%20of%20Alcantara.htm Founder Statue in St Peter's Basilica]
*it icon [http://www.santiebeati.it/dettaglio/74425 San Pietro d'Alcantara]


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