Poverty and Chastity. Those were two virtues at the forefront of his earthly life. He is none other than St. Peter of Alcantara. Meet your second WYD 2013 Patron Saint.
So, who is St. Peter of Alcantara? What sort of spirituality did he have that would warrant him being made a Saint?
St. Peter was born in Alcantara, Spain (which borders on the country of Portugal). His father was the governor of Alcantara. St. Peter studied law at Salamanca University and at the age of 16, he joined the Observant Franciscans.
When he was 39, he was elected provincial of his order and became renowned to others as a preacher. It is important to know in his earthly ministry, St. Peter of Alcantara did not seek out attention. On the other hand, he preferred a life lived in poverty, and embraced silence and solitude.
In 1554, St. Peter of Alcantara received permission to form a group of Franciscans, formally known as Alcantarines. Later on, the Alcantarines were joined with the other Observant friars and became known as the Order of Friars Minor. Interestingly enough, St. Peter of Alcantara was a confessor and spiritual director to St. Teresa of Avila.
As St. Teresa of Avila’s confessor, he encouraged her to bring about and promote Carmelite reform. Because of his dynamic ability to preach, St. Peter of Alcantara inspired many people to embrace religious life, especially to the Secular Franciscan Order, the friars and the Poor Clares.
He was eventually canonized in 1669.
Fast forwarding to the year 1826, St. Peter of Alcántara was named Patron of Brazil. Every year, the universal Church celebrates his feast day on Oct. 19.
Don’t forget – join WYDCentral every Monday for our next instalment on Patron Saints, as we begin our incredible journey to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
St. Peter of Alcantara, pray for us!