Wednesday, May 9, 2012

St. Peter Claver: San Pedro Claver, El Esclavo De Los Esclavos

San Pedro Claver, El Esclavo De Los Esclavos

Peter Claver Corberó known as St. Peter Claver, the slave of slaves, was a missionary priest and Jesuit Spanish born in Verdu ( Catalonia ) in June 1580 , and died in Cartagena de Indias on September 9th of 1654 . Passed to posterity for their commitment to alleviate the suffering of the slaves of slave port of Cartagena de Indias . It is the patron saint of slaves .


Shy and simple, Catalan short and long words into deeds, Pedro Claver Corberó, is one of the most fascinating figures of Christianity and daring of the seventeenth century , whose life was developed in the context of colorful adventures, passions and injustices of the slave port of Cartagena de Indias . His self-sacrifice to the black muzzles of which the theologians of that time discussing even possess a soul, is an admirable example of the practice of Christian liberation and defense of human rights. It is considered a heroic example of what should be the Church's preferential commitment to the poor and marginalized.

Slave ministry

Whereas Sandoval visited the slaves where they worked, Claver preferred to head for the wharf as soon as a slave ship entered the port. Boarding the ship, he entered the filthy and diseased holds to treat and minister to their badly-treated, terrified human cargo who had survived a voyage of several months under horrible conditions. It was difficult to move around on the ships, because the slave traffickers filled them to capacity. The slaves were often told they were being taken to a land where they would be eaten. Claver wore a cloak, which he would lend to anyone in need; a legend says that whoever wore the cloak received lifetime health and was cured of all disease. After the slaves were herded from the ship and penned in nearby yards to be scrutinized by crowds of buyers, Claver joined them with medicine, food, bread, brandy, lemons and tobacco. With the help of interpreters and pictures which he carried with him, he gave basic instructions and assured the slaves of their human dignity and God's saving love.
Claver had conflicts with some of his Jesuit brothers, who accepted slavery. Claver saw the slaves as fellow Christians, encouraging others to do so as well. During his 40 years of ministry he catechized and baptized an estimated 300,000 slaves, following up on them to ensure that as Christians they received their Christian and civil rights. His mission extended beyond caring for slaves, however. He preached in the city square, to sailors and traders and conducted country missions, returning every spring to visit those he had baptized, ensuring that they were treated humanely. During these missions, whenever possible he avoided the hospitality of planters and overseers; instead, he would lodge in the slave quarters.

Claver's work on behalf of slaves did not prevent him from ministering to the souls of well-to-do members of society, traders and visitors to Cartagena (including Muslims and English Protestants) and condemned criminals, many of whom he prepared for death; he was also a frequent visitor at the city's hospitals. Through years of work and the force of his own unique personality, the slaves' situation slowly improved. In time he became a moral force, the apostle of Cartagena.

Illness, death and legacy

Parkinsonism finally confined Claver to his room. He lingered four years, largely forgotten and neglected, and died September 9, 1654. The city magistrates, who had previously considered him a nuisance for his persistent advocacy on behalf of the slaves, ordered a public funeral and he was buried with pomp and ceremony. It was only after Claver's death that the vast scope of his ministry came to be realized; which was prodigious even before the astronomical number of people he baptized is added in. He was canonized in 1888, and Pope Leo XIII declared him the patron of missionary work among people of color. (source: Wikipedia)

Claver added a vow to his ordination signature: Latin: Petrus Claver, aethiopum siempre servus ("Peter Claver, slave of the Negro for ever").

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