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September 9th, 2019 - 09:12 AM
Sep 9 - “St. Peter Claver” © icon by Br. Robert Lentz, OFM. Happy Feast Day St. Peter!
While the United States is well-known for its African slaves, millions of Africans were also shipped as slaves to various countries in South America. Cartagena, Colombia, was a major slave depot. Here Peter Claver, a Spanish Jesuit, labored 33 years to lessen the sufferings of uprooted Africans. Calling himself the "slave of Blacks forever," Claver ministered to slaves from the time they first landed on the docks in Cartagena, sharing much of their pain and squalor. He also kept track of them as they were sold to various plantations or mines, traveling from place to place to see to their needs. "Before we can speak to anyone with our lips," he said, "we must try to speak to them with our hands."
His compassion extended to prisoners -- including those held by the Inquisition -- and to the sick in hospitals. He spent his life defending the powerless against the wealthy.
He became partially paralyzed when he was seventy years old. Although he was in constant pain, he was left alone and neglected in a small room for the last four years of his life. Even this did not break his spirit. While he is especially revered in Latin America, he is also honored in the United States because of his defense of the slaves.
His feast day is September 9.