Peter Claver (1581-1654) was a Spanish Jesuit who spent his life ministering to the African slaves in the port of Cartagena, Columbia and beyond. Although the Church had condemned the practice of slavery as a grave injustice to human dignity, it still flourished. Peter Claver would board the slave ships as they arrived in port and minister to the physical needs of the people who had survived the journey (up to a third of them died during the three month voyage from Africa due to the filthy conditions on board). Most importantly, he treated the slaves with compassion and dignity. It is said that he personally baptized up to 300,000 people. He would visit the places these new Christians were taken as slaves to advocate for their humane treatment, staying in slave quarters and not with the masters. He is the patron saint of race relations. His feast day is September 9.
Questions for Reflection
As Christians we are called to advocate for justice for all people, because each human person is made in the image and likeness of God. Peter Claver showed Christ’s love to the most abused population by being present with them and caring for their immediate needs.
Who in our world today is in need of your tangible acts of love?
Who in our world today is in need of your work for justice?