Born in Spain, the young Jesuit Saint Peter Claver journeyed to the New World in 1610, never to return to his homeland. He found himself in the bustling port city of Cartagena, present-day Colombia, where he was ordained in 1615.

By then, the vile transatlantic slave trade had been active for almost a century, with Cartagena being its major hub. Heartbreakingly, an estimated third of the slaves did not survive the harrowing journey from West Africa. Despite papal condemnations of this trade by Pope Paul III, and its denouncement as “supreme villainy” by Pius IX, it sadly thrived.

Saint Peter Claver dedicated himself to continuing the compassionate work of his predecessor, Jesuit Father Alfonso de Sandoval. With a heart full of love, Claver called himself “the slave of the Negroes forever.”

Whenever a slave ship anchored in the port, Claver immediately set to work. Venturing into its depths, he ministered to the anguished souls aboard. Once the slaves were forcibly moved from the ships, Claver was there, providing them with food, medicine, and comforting words. Through the use of interpreters, he reminded them of their inherent worth and God’s unending love. During his 40-year tenure, it’s believed that Claver baptized and educated around 300,000 slaves.

But Claver’s efforts were not limited to aiding the enslaved. He was a beacon of hope and morality in Cartagena. He preached publicly, reached out to sailors, traders, and even conducted missions in the countryside. Notably, he often chose to stay with slaves during these missions, rather than with their wealthy owners.

The last four years of his life were marked by illness, rendering him inactive. Sadly, he was largely overlooked and neglected during this time. He passed away on September 8, 1654. Though once critical of his advocacy for the slaves, the city’s leaders recognized his impact, ensuring he was honored with a grand public funeral.

In 1888, Saint Peter Claver was canonized. Later, Pope Leo XIII named him the patron saint of missionary work for black slaves, cementing his legacy as a beacon of hope and compassion.

Photo credit: Mill 1 via Wikimedia Commons
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  1. Thank you Lord God for all the trials, these made us strong to face life again and again. We are sorry for our sins and we repent for the time of our weaknesses and failures. Lord I pray for everything, My family, my children, my friends, my relatives. I pray for all the souls in Purgatory. Forgive them for their past sins when they were still alive. I pray for the brokenhearted, the innocent prisoners, the sick and the dying, the street children and the old age. I pray for the company who helped me in my finances. I wake up each day for the purpose of working , to help, to gain , to live for my family especially my kids. Protect my Kids, away from illness, accident, and keep then safe from all kinds of calamities like typhoon, flood, earthquake, fire, while I am away from them. I pray my kids’s excellence in school. Lord, I pray for the company I’m working. Help the company grow, especially the owner and the rest of his family member. Protect all of us in the company that we might be away from danger . Bless us all in the company as we continue to strive for success. Lord, all these things I ask in Jesus name..Amen.

  2. St Peter Claver was given the zeal to work for and serve the least among men, the little ones, the scorned ones and the abused. He did what he did because he had faith in Christ and was filled with the Spirit. He went against the grain of the 17th century when black slaves were seen as tools to be used for the profit of their owners.
    St Peter Claver pray for our world of the 21st century that our inhumanity to our fellowman may cease and that peace may exist in the Middle East. May we hold that God has given value to everyone for we were made by him, for him and to be with him eternally.
    Thanks for the reminder of the feast day of this saint who worked for the salvation and welfare of the slaves of his time

  3. May God forgive Bishop Krautler who did not care to baptize a single indigenous soul in 30+yrs in the Amazon, and others like him. 50yrs of fruitless existence means the Holy Spirit couldn’t bear their company. Saint Peter Claver, pray for us. Rally your 300,000 converts in heaven to press the minds and hands and hearts of the inactive into fervent acts of charity to bring hope to South America. Forgive the blatant waste of human and financial resources, the fraud, the elitist blasphemy to the one true Faith. Amplify devotion from coast to coast. Amen.

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