lundi 29 avril 2013

Saint PIERRE de VÉRONE, prêtre dominicain et martyr

Saint Pierre de Vérone

prêtre dominicain martyr (✝ 1252)

Issu d'une famille cathare de Lombardie, il entra chez les dominicains de Bologne où il avait suivi les cours de la célèbre Université. Il voulut combattre les erreurs au milieu desquelles il avait vécu sa jeunesse. Il fut l'un des plus redoutables inquisiteurs. Il s'appuyait sur les confréries mariales pour mieux encadrer la masse des fidèles. Son œuvre à Milan comme à Florence fut immense et il s'attira nombre d'inimitiés. Un jour qu'il se rendait de Côme à Milan, il fut attaqué par un certain Carino qui le tua d'un coup de faucille dans le crâne et l'acheva en lui enfonçant son épée dans le cou. Plus tard, Carino qui avait réussi à s'enfuir de la prison, entra chez les dominicains, saisi de repentir et demanda à y expier sa faute. Il devait d'ailleurs mourir lui-même en odeur de sainteté. Deux ans après sa mort, Pierre de Vérone était canonisé pour exalter ce héros de la lutte contre l'hérésie.

(...)

Près de Milan, en 1252, la passion de saint Pierre de Vérone, prêtre de l’Ordre des Prêcheurs et martyr. Né de parents nobles mais manichéens, il embrassa, encore enfant, la foi catholique et reçut, adolescent, l’habit des frères prêcheurs des mains de saint Dominique. Il mit ensuite toute son ardeur à réfuter les hérésies et, frappé au crâne par des conjurés sur la route de Côme à Milan, il écrivit de son sang le début du Credo.

Martyrologe romain



St Pierre de Vérone, martyr

Né à Vérone dans ne famille cathare en 1206. Nommé inquisiteur en 1232. Martyr près de Milan en 1252. Canonisé en 1253. Fête en 1586.

Leçons des Matines avant 1960

Quatrième leçon. Pierre, né à Vérone de parents infectés des erreurs des Manichéens, combattit les hérésies presque dès son enfance. A l’âge de sept ans, comme il fréquentait les écoles, se voyant un jour demander par son oncle paternel qui était hérétique ce qu’il y avait appris, il répondit qu’il y avait été instruit du symbole de la foi chrétienne : et, ni les caresses ni les menaces de son père et de son oncle, ne purent jamais ébranler sa constance dans la foi. Parvenu à l’adolescence, il vint à Bologne pour y continuer ses études ; c’est là, qu’appelé par le Saint-Esprit à un genre de vie plus élevé, il entra dans l’Ordre des Frères Prêcheurs.

Cinquième leçon. Ses vertus brillèrent avec un grand éclat en religion ; il conserva son corps et son âme dans une telle pureté, que jamais il ne se sentit souillé d’aucun péché mortel. Il macérait sa chair par des jeûnes et des veilles, et il exerçait son esprit par la contemplation des choses divines. Il s’appliquait assidûment à procurer le salut des âmes, et réfutait les hérétiques avec une force qui était un don particulier de la grâce. Il exerçait, en prêchant, une tell influence, qu’une multitude innombrable d’hommes accouraient pour l’entendre, e que beaucoup se convertissaient et faisaient pénitence.

Sixième leçon. L’ardeur de sa foi l’enflammai tellement qu’il souhaitait de subir la mort pour elle, et demandait constamment cette grâce à Dieu. Il fut exaucé les hérétiques le firent mourir ainsi qu’il l’avait prédit peu auparavant dans un sermon. Comme il exerçait la charge d’inquisiteur et revenait de Côme à Milan, un impie sicaire lui déchargea sur la tête deux coups d’épée. Le Saint, à demi-mort, prononça avant de rendre le dernier soupir le symbole de la foi qu’il avait dès l’enfance confessé avec un courage déjà viril : le meurtrier, le frappant de nouveau, lui perça le côté de son arme, et Pierre s’en alla au ciel recevoir la palme du martyre, l’an du salut mil deux cent cinquante-deux. Son nom devint bientôt illustre par beaucoup de miracles, et c’est pourquoi Innocent IV l’inscrivit l’année suivante au nombre des saints Martyrs.


Dom Guéranger, l’Année Liturgique

Le héros que la sainte Église députe aujourd’hui vers Jésus ressuscité, a combattu si vaillamment que le martyre a couronné jusqu’à son nom. Le peuple chrétien l’appelle saint Pierre Martyr, en sorte que son nom et sa victoire ne se séparent jamais. Immolé par un bras hérétique, il est le noble tribut que la chrétienté du XIIIe siècle offrit au Rédempteur. Jamais triomphe ne recueillit de plus solennelles acclamations. Au siècle précédent, la palme cueillie par Thomas de Cantorbéry fut saluée avec transport par les peuples qui n’aimaient rien tant alors que la liberté de l’Église ; celle de Pierre fut l’objet d’une ovation pareille. Rien ne surpasse l’enthousiasme du grand Innocent IV, dans la Bulle pour la canonisation du martyr. « La foi chrétienne appuyée sur tant de prodiges, s’écrie-t-il, brille aujourd’hui d’un éclat nouveau. Voici qu’un nouvel athlète vient par son triomphe raviver nos allégresses. Les trophées de la victoire éclatent à nos regards, le sang répandu élève sa voix, la trompette du martyre retentit, la terre arrosée d’un sang généreux fait entendre son langage, la contrée qui a produit un si noble guerrier proclame sa gloire, et jusqu’au glaive parricide qui l’a immolé acclame sa victoire. Dans sa joie, l’Église-mère entonne au Seigneur un cantique nouveau, et le peuple chrétien va trouver matière à des chants d’allégresse qui n’avaient pas retenti encore. Un fruit délicieux cueilli dans le jardin de la foi vient d’être placé sur la table du Roi éternel. Une grappe choisie dans la vigne de l’Église a rempli de son suc généreux le calice royal ; la branche dont elle a été détachée par le fer était des plus adhérentes au cep divin. L’Ordre des Prêcheurs a produit une rose vermeille dont le parfum réjouit le Roi céleste. Une pierre choisie dans l’Église militante, taillée et polie par l’épreuve, a mérité sa place dans l’édifice du ciel [1]. »

Ainsi s’exprimait le Pontife suprême, et les peuples répondaient en célébrant avec transport le nouveau martyr. Sa fête était gardée comme les solennités antiques par la suspension des travaux, et les fidèles accouraient aux églises des Frères-Prêcheurs, portant des rameaux qu’ils présentaient pour être bénits en souvenir du triomphe de Pierre Martyr. Cet usage s’est maintenu jusqu’à nos temps dans l’Europe méridionale, et les rameaux bénits en ce jour par les Dominicains sont regardés comme une protection pour les maisons où on les conserve avec respect.

Quel motif avait donc enflammé le zèle du peuple chrétien pour la mémoire de cette victime d’un odieux attentat ? C’est que Pierre avait succombé en travaillant à la défense de la foi, et les peuples n’avaient alors rien de plus cher que la foi. Pierre avait reçu la charge de rechercher les hérétiques manichéens, qui depuis longtemps infectaient le Milanais de leurs doctrines perverses et de leurs mœurs aussi odieuses que leurs doctrines. Sa fermeté, son intégrité dans l’accomplissement d’une telle mission, le désignaient à la haine des Patarins ; et lorsqu’il tomba victime de son noble courage, un cri d’admiration et de reconnaissance s’éleva dans la chrétienté. Rien donc de plus dépourvu de vérité que les déclamations des ennemis de l’Église et de leurs imprudents fauteurs, contre les poursuites que le droit public des nations catholiques avait décrétées pour déjouer et atteindre les ennemis de la foi. Dans ces siècles, aucun tribunal ne fut jamais plus populaire que celui qui était chargé de protéger la sainte croyance, et de réprimer ceux qui avaient entrepris de l’attaquer. Que l’Ordre des Frères-Prêcheurs, chargé principalement de cette haute magistrature, jouisse donc, sans orgueil comme sans faiblesse, de l’honneur qu’il eut de l’exercer si longtemps pour le salut du peuple chrétien. Que de fois ses membres ont rencontre une mort glorieuse dans l’accomplissement de leur austère devoir ! Saint Pierre Martyr est le premier des martyrs que ce saint Ordre a fournis pour cette grande cause ; mais les fastes dominicains en produisent un grand nombre d’autres, héritiers de son dévouement et émules de sa couronne. La poursuite des hérétiques n’est plus qu’un fait de l’histoire ; mais, à nous catholiques, il n’est pas permis de la considérer autrement que ne la considère l’Église. Aujourd’hui elle nous prescrit d’honorer comme martyr un de ses saints qui a rencontré le trépas en marchant à l’encontre des loups qui menaçaient les brebis du Seigneur ; ne serions-nous pas coupables envers notre mère, si nous osions apprécier autrement qu’elle le mérite des combats qui ont valu à Pierre la couronne immortelle ? Loin donc de nos cœurs catholiques cette lâcheté qui n’ose accepter les courageux efforts que rirent nos pères pour nous conserver le plus précieux des héritages ! Loin de nous cette facilité puérile à croire aux calomnies des hérétiques et des prétendus philosophes contre une institution qu’ils ne peuvent naturellement que détester ! Loin de nous cette déplorable confusion d’idées qui met sur le même pied la vérité et l’erreur, et qui, de ce que l’erreur ne saurait avoir de droits, a osé conclure que la vérité n’en a pas à réclamer !

Nous empruntons les Antiennes et le Répons suivants au Bréviaire dominicain, à la louange du glorieux champion de la foi.

Ant. Du sein de la fumée la flamme lumineuse s’élance ; la rose fleurit sur les épines du buisson : ainsi Pierre, docteur et martyr, naît d’une famille infidèle.

Ant. D’abord soldat dans l’armée des Prêcheurs, il brille aujourd’hui dans les rangs de la milice céleste.

Ant. Son âme fut tout angélique, sa langue féconde, sa vie apostolique, sa mort précieuse.

V/. Tandis qu’il est à la recherche des renards de Samson, il est immole par un bras impie ; un meurtrier frappe sa tête sacrée ; le sang du juste est répandu : * Ainsi le martyr cueille la palme du triomphe, en succombant pour la foi.

V/. Athlète invincible, il confesse encore en mourant la loi pour laquelle il verse son sang. * Ainsi le martyr cueille la palme triomphale, en succombant pour la foi.

Vous avez vaincu, ô Pierre ! et votre zèle pour la défense de la foi a obtenu sa récompense. Vous désiriez ardemment répandre votre sang pour la plus sainte des causes, et confirmer par votre sacrifice les fidèles du Christ dans la fermeté de leur croyance. Le Seigneur a comblé vos vieux, et il a voulu que votre immolation coïncidât avec les têtes de notre divin Agneau pascal, que vous suivez dans son triomphe comme vous l’avez suivi dans son immolation. Le fer parricide s’abattit sur votre tète vénérable, votre sang généreux coulait en ruisseaux sur la terre, et de votre doigt vous traciez encore sur le sable, en mourant, les premières paroles du Symbole pour lequel vous donniez votre vie.

Protecteur du peuple chrétien, quel autre mobile que celui de la charité vous dirigea dans vos travaux ? Soit que votre parole vive et lumineuse reconquit sur l’erreur les âmes abusées, soit que marchant droit à l’ennemi, votre vigueur le forçât à fuir loin des pâturages qu’il venait empoisonner, vous n’eûtes qu’un but, celui de préserver les faibles de la séduction. Combien d’âmes simples auraient joui avec délices de la vérité divine que la sainte Église faisait arriver jusqu’à elles, et qui, misérablement trompées par les prédicants de l’erreur, sans défense contre le sophisme et le mensonge, perdent le don de la foi et s’éteignent dans l’angoisse ou dans la dépravation ! La société catholique avait prévenu de tels dangers. Elle ne souffrait pas que l’héritage conquis au prix du sang des martyrs fût en proie aux ennemis jaloux qui avaient résolu de s’en emparer. Elle savait que l’attrait de l’erreur se rencontre souvent au fond du cœur de l’homme déchu, et que la vérité, immuable en elle-même, n’est assurée de demeurer en possession de notre intelligence qu’autant qu’elle y est défendue par la science ou par la foi : la science qui est le partage du petit nombre, la foi contre laquelle l’erreur conspire sans cesse, sous les apparences de la vérité. Dans les âges chrétiens, on eût regardé comme coupable autant qu’absurde de garantir à l’erreur la liberté qui n’est due qu’à la vérité, et les pouvoirs publics se considéraient comme investis du devoir de veiller au salut des faibles, en écartant d’eux les occasions de chute, comme le père de famille prend soin d’éloigner de ses enfants les périls qui leur seraient d’autant plus funestes que leur inexpérience ne les soupçonne pas.

Obtenez-nous, ô saint martyr, une estime toujours plus grande de ce don précieux de la foi qui nous maintient dans le chemin du ciel. Veillez avec sollicitude à sa conservation en nous et en tous ceux qui sont confiés à notre garde. L’amour de cette sainte foi s’est refroidi chez plusieurs ; le contact de ceux qui ne croient pas les a accoutumés à des complaisances de pensée et de parole qui les ont énervés. Rappelez-les, ô Pierre, à ce zèle pour la vérité divine qui doit être le trait principal du chrétien. Si, dans la société où ils vivent, tout conspire pour égaliser les droits de l’erreur et ceux de la vérité, qu’ils se sentent d’autant plus obligés à professer la vérité et à détester l’erreur. Réchauffez donc en nous tous, ô saint martyr, l’ardeur de la foi, « sans laquelle il est impossible à l’homme d’être agréable à Dieu [2] ». Rendez-nous délicats sur ce point de première importance pour le salut, afin que, notre foi prenant toujours de nouveaux accroissements, nous méritions de voir éternellement au ciel ce que nous aurons cru fermement sur la terre.

[1] Constitution Magnis et crebris du 9 des calendes d’avril 1253.

[2] Heb.XI, 6.


Bhx Cardinal Schuster, Liber Sacramentorum

Ce saint Dominicain (+ 1252), martyr de la foi dans ses fonctions d’inquisiteur contre les hérétiques manichéens, fut très honoré au XVe siècle en Italie, où l’on compte un bon nombre d’autels et d’images en son honneur. L’introduction de sa fête dans le calendrier de l’Église universelle remonte à Sixte-Quint, saint Pie V l’ayant omise dans la nouvelle réforme du Bréviaire promulguée par lui. La messe est celle du Commun des Martyrs au temps pascal : Protexisti, mais les collectes sont propres. L’épître est celle du Commun des Martyrs hors du temps pascal ; elle a été choisie non seulement parce qu’elle traite de la résurrection du Christ, mais aussi parce que, décrivant la vie difficile, les persécutions et les peines supportées par Paul et par Timothée dans la diffusion de la foi chrétienne, elle trace aussi le programme de vie de tout véritable ouvrier évangélique. Quasi male operans. Voilà l’idée que le monde se fait de l’apôtre du Christ, et, sous cette imputation, il le condamne à mort. Paul observe toutefois qu’on ne peut enchaîner la parole de Dieu. Le martyre est une semence de nouveaux chrétiens, et pour un confesseur de la foi qui est mis à mort, surgissent cent autres qui continuent son œuvre.

La foi est le trésor le plus précieux non seulement pour chaque âme en particulier, mais aussi pour les États et pour le monde en général. Dans les temps profondément religieux, tels que le moyen âge, l’hérésie était considérée comme un crime contre la foi et contre l’État et, après l’anathème de l’Église, elle était punie, par le juge laïque, des peines les plus graves du code criminel. Quiconque a connaissance des horreurs des guerres religieuses dues aux disciples de Luther en Allemagne, aux Calvinistes et aux Huguenots en France, ne pourra pas ne pas louer la prudente institution, par l’Église, de l’Inquisition, qui—sauf les déviations, dans un but politique, imposées parle gouvernement espagnol — devait, dans l’intention des papes, protéger l’unité religieuse et sociale de la chrétienté tout entière.

C’est pourquoi la répression de la propagande hérétique par les soins de l’Inquisition était considérée vraiment comme un Sanctum Officium, puisque, sauvegardant le plus grand bien que possèdent les peuples, c’est-à-dire la foi, elle éloignait des États ces germes de haine, de révolutions et de guerres, qui, si souvent, naissent de différends religieux.

Le martyr du Credo.

Saint Pierre. — Jour de mort : 6 avril 1252. Tombeau : dans l’église Saint-Eustorgius, à Milan. Image : On le représente en Dominicain, avec une large blessure à la tête et tenant une épée. Vie : Saint Pierre, martyr, né à Vérone, vers 1205, de parents hérétiques, entra dans l’ordre dominicain l’année de la mort de saint Dominique (1221). Il fut un zélé prédicateur ; il convertit beaucoup d’hérétiques et mourut martyr. Comme il n’était encore qu’un enfant de sept ans et fréquentait l’école, son oncle qui était hérétique lui demanda un jour ce qu’on lui apprenait. L’enfant répondit hardiment : « Le symbole des Apôtres ». Ni les flatteries, ni les menaces de son père ou de son oncle ne purent ébranler la fermeté de sa foi. — Près de mourir, il récita encore le symbole des Apôtres que, dans son enfance, il avait professé avec tant de courage. Il reçut immédiatement un nouveau coup de poignard et c’est ainsi qu’il conquit la couronne du martyre, en 1252.

Pratique : Saint Pierre, martyr, que nous célébrons, aujourd’hui, aurait écrit sur le sol, avec le sang de ses blessures, le mot « Credo ». Que la profession de notre foi soit notre sauvegarde dans la vie et dans la mort ! Nous devrions, de temps en temps, méditer un article du Credo. Récitons-nous notre Credo ? Récitons-le avec une ferveur particulière pendant la messe en songeant que, pour chaque mot, du sang de martyr a coulé... Que le Credo, à chaque messe du dimanche, soit notre martyre (c’est-à-dire notre témoignage) !



Domenichino. Assassinat de saint pierre de Vérone

LETTRE DU PAPE JEAN PAUL II



AU CARDINAL MARTINI, ARCHEVÊQUE DE MILAN,



À L'OCCASION DU 750ème ANNIVERSAIRE



DU MARTYRE DE SAINT PIERRE DE VÉRONE


A mon Vénéré Frère Monsieur le Cardinal CARLO MARIA MARTINI Archevêque de Milan


1. J'ai appris avec joie que l'Eglise ambrosienne et l'Ordre des Frères prêcheurs se préparent à célébrer le 750ème anniversaire du martyre de saint Pierre de Vérone, religieux dominicain assassiné à cause de sa foi, en même temps que son confrère, Frère Domenico, le 6 avril 1252, samedi in albis, dans les environs de Seveso, alors qu'il se rendait à Milan pour entreprendre une nouvelle mission d'évangélisation et de défense de la foi catholique.

Cet anniversaire, qui cette année aussi a lieu le premier samedi après Pâques, nous porte à considérer avec admiration la figure et l'oeuvre de ce saint qui, attaché au Christ, réalisa dans sa vie les paroles de l'Apôtre Paul: "Malheur à moi si je n'annonçais pas l'Evangile" (1 Co 9, 16) et obtint à travers le martyre la grâce de la pleine imitation de la Victime pascale.

En cette heureuse circonstance, qui est le fruit de la fervente initiative de l'Archevêque de Milan, je me réjouis avec lui, qui en son temps a promu cette canonisation et auquel est confiée la garde de la dépouille mortelle et le lieu du martyre. Je m'unis aussi cordialement aux Fils de saint Dominique, qui honorent en lui leur premier confrère martyr, modèle pour toutes les personnes consacrées et pour tous les chrétiens de notre époque également.

2. Toute la vie de saint Pierre de Vérone se déroula sous le signe de la défense de la vérité exprimée dans le "Credo" ou Symbole des Apôtres, qu'il commença à réciter dès l'âge de sept ans, bien qu'il soit né dans une famille pervertie par l'hérésie cathare, et qu'il continua à proclamer "jusqu'au dernier instant" (Cf. Bulgarium Romanum, III, Augustae Taurinorum, 1858, p. 564). La foi catholique enseignée dès l'enfance le protégea des dangers de l'atmosphère universitaire de Bologne où, durant ses études, il rencontra saint Dominique, dont il devint un fervent disciple, passant ensuite le reste de son existence dans l'Ordre des Frères prêcheurs.

Après l'ordination sacerdotale, diverses villes de l'Italie du Sud, de la Toscane, de la Romagne et des Marches, ainsi que Rome elle-même, furent les témoins de son zèle apostolique, qui s'exprimait principalement à travers le ministère de la prédication et de la réconciliation. Prieur des Couvents d'Asti, de Piacenza et de Côme, il étendit sa sollicitude pastorale aux religieuses cloîtrées, pour lesquelles il fonda le Monastère dominicain de San Pietro in Campo Santo à Milan.

Face aux dégâts provoqués par l'hérésie, il se consacra avec attention à la formation chrétienne des laïcs, en se faisant le promoteur, dans les capitales de Lombardie et de Toscane, d'institutions visant à la défense de l'orthodoxie, à la diffusion du culte de la Bienheureuse Vierge Marie et aux oeuvres de miséricorde. A Florence, ensuite, il noua une profonde amitié spirituelle avec les sept Saints fondateurs des Serviteurs de Marie, dont il devint un conseiller précieux.

3. Le 13 juin 1251, mon vénéré Prédécesseur Innocent IV lui confia, alors qu'il était prieur à Côme, le mandat spécial d'aller constater l'hérésie cathare à Crémone et, l'automne suivant, il le nomma inquisiteur pour la ville et le territoire de Milan et de Côme.

Ce devait être la dernière mission du saint martyr, car elle devait le conduire à mourir pour la foi catholique. Dans le cadre de cette charge importante, il intensifia la prédication, annonçant l'Evangile du Christ et expliquant la sainte doctrine de l'Eglise sans se préoccuper des menaces de mort qui lui parvenaient de différents côtés.

Le zèle missionnaire et l'obéissance le conduisirent souvent au siège de Saint-Ambroise, où il expliquait devant des foules immenses les mystères du christianisme, soutenant de nombreuses disputes publiques contre les chefs de l'hérésie cathare. Sa prédication, nourrie d'une solide connaissance de l'Ecriture, s'accompagnait d'un ardent témoignage de charité et fut confirmée par des miracles. A travers une action apostolique inlassable, il suscitait partout la ferveur spirituelle, encourageant une renaissance authentique de la vie chrétienne.

Malheureusement, le 6 avril 1252, alors que de Côme, où il avait célébré la Pâque avec sa communauté, il se rendait à Milan dans le but d'accomplir le mandat que lui avait confié le Vicaire du Christ, il fut tué par un sicaire à la solde des hérétiques, qui le frappa à la tête avec une "faux", à Seveso, dans le territoire de Farga, qui prit ensuite le nom du Martyr et où se dressent aujourd'hui un sanctuaire et la paroisse qui lui est consacrée.

4. Saint Catherine de Sienne remarque qu'à travers le martyre, le coeur de cet insigne défenseur de la foi, brûlant de charité divine, continua à délivrer des "lumières dans les ténèbres de nombreuses hérésies". Son assassin lui-même, Carino da Balsamo, qu'il avait pardonné, se convertit et endossa ensuite l'habit dominicain. On connaît la grandeur et l'intensité du choc provoqué par ce terrible assassinat: l'écho ne s'en répandit pas seulement dans l'Ordre dominicain et le diocèse de Milan, mais aussi en Italie et dans toute l'Europe chrétienne. Les autorités milanaises, se faisant les interprètes de la vénération unanime pour le Martyr, demandèrent au Pape Innocent IV sa canonisation. Elle eut lieu à Pérouse, un peu moins d'un an après sa mort, en mars 1253. Dans la Bulle, par laquelle il l'inscrivait dans l'Album des martyrs, mon vénéré Prédecesseur faisait l'éloge de ses qualités: "dévotion, humilité, obéissance, bienveillance, piété, patience, charité". Et il le présentait comme un "amant fervent de la foi, son éminent connaisseur et son encore plus ardent défenseur".

Grâce à l'Ordre dominicain, le culte en l'honneur de saint Pierre de Vérone se diffusa rapidement parmi le peuple chrétien, comme en attestent les nombreuses oeuvres d'art qui évoquent sa foi intrépide et son martyre. Un témoignage singulier de cette dévotion durable nous est offerte par le sanctuaire de Seveso et par la Basilique Saint-Eustorge à Milan, où repose depuis le 7 avril 1252 la vénérée dépouille mortelle de cet insigne Martyr.

Le Souverain Pontife saint Pie V voulut lui consacrer une chapelle artistique dans la Torra Pia qui fait aujourd'hui partie des Musées du Vatican. Mon saint Prédécesseur y célébrait souvent le Sacrifice eucharistique. A partir de 1818, saint Pierre de Vérone accompagne et soutient, par sa protection céleste, la formation des séminaristes ambrosiens, puisque depuis cette date, une communauté du séminaire diocésain a son siège dans l'ancien couvent de Seveso, adossé au sanctuaire qui rappelle le martyre.

5. Sept cent cinquante ans après sa mort, saint Pierre de Vérone, fidèle disciple de l'unique Maître, qu'il a cherché sans trève dans le silence et dans la contemplation, annoncé inlassablement et aimé jusqu'au don suprême de sa vie, exhorte les chrétiens de notre temps à dépasser la tentation d'une tiède et partielle adhésion à la foi de l'Eglise. Il invite chacun à recentrer son existence, avec un engagement renouvelé, sur le Christ "qu'il faut connaître, aimer, imiter, pour vivre en lui la vie trinitaire et pour transformer avec lui l'histoire jusqu'à son achèvement dans la Jérusalem céleste" (Novo millennio ineunte, n. 29). Saint Pierre indique et repropose aux croyants le chemin de la sainteté, "ce haut degré de la vie chrétienne ordinaire", pour que la communauté ecclésiale, les individus et les familles s'orientent toujours dans cette direction (cf. ibid., n. 31). Chaque chrétien, en suivant son exemple, est encouragé à résister aux illusions du pouvoir et de la richesse pour chercher d'abord "son Royaume et sa justice" (Mt 6, 33) et pour contribuer à l'instauration d'un ordre social qui réponde toujours mieux aux exigences de la dignité de la personne.

Dans une société comme celle d'aujourd'hui, où l'on ressent souvent une inquiétante rupture entre l'Evangile et la culture, drame récurrent dans l'histoire du monde chrétien, saint Pierre de Vérone témoigne qu'un tel écart ne peut être comblé que lorsque les différentes composantes du Peuple de Dieu s'appliquent à devenir des "cierges" qui resplendissent sur l'ensemble du candélabre, en orientant nos frères vers le Christ, qui donne un sens ultime à la recherche et aux attentes de l'homme.

Je forme le voeu que les célébrations programmées en l'honneur de ce fils exemplaire de saint Dominique soient une occasion de grâce, de ferveur spirituelle et d'un engagement renouvelé à annoncer l'Evangile avec un courage intrépide et une joie toujours nouvelle.

Avec de tels souhaits, je vous donne la Bénédiction apostolique demandée, à vous, Vénéré Frère, ainsi qu'au bien-aimé archidiocèse de Milan, à ceux qui se préparent au sacerdoce dans le séminaire qui porte le nom du saint Martyr, à l'ordre des Fères prêcheurs et à tous ceux qui se confient à l'intercession céleste de saint Pierre de Vérone.

Du Vatican, le 25 mars 2002.



Saint Pierre de Vérone († 1252)

Fils de Cathares, Pierre se convertit très jeune à la foi catholique. Attiré à l'Ordre par la prédication de saint Dominique, il reçut l'habit de ses mains. Il fut voué à la prédication, surtout chez les hérétiques auprès desquels il pratiqua, à l'exemple du fondateur des prêcheurs, la méthode évangélique du dialogue. Par un travail apostolique inlassable, il obtint de nombreuses conversions et fut aussi le promoteur d'" Associations de la foi" et de "Confraternité de louange de la B. V. Marie".

Nommé inquisiteur pour la Lombardie en 1242, il vit se concentrer sur lui la haine des ennemis de la foi catholique. Il mourut assassiné par des Cathares, sur la route de Côme à Milan, le 6 avril 1252. L'un de ses meurtriers, Carin, devait par la suite entrer dans l'Ordre. Onze mois après sa mort, dès 1253, Innocent IV inscrivit Pierre au catalogue des saints. Un des plus beaux éloges de cette vie a été écrit par Catherine de Sienne dans son Dialogue (2, 5).

Lors de la réforme liturgique de Paul VI, on a choisi pour fêter Pierre de Vérone le jour anniversaire de la translation de ses reliques à l'occasion du Chapitre général de Milan en 1340. Sa vie fut écrite quelques années après sa mort par un de ses anciens compagnons d'apostolat, frère Thomas de Lentini, prieur et fondateur du couvent de Naples, qui donna l'habit à saint Thomas d'Aquin.



Pierre naquit à Vérone vers 1205 au sein d’une famille cathare.

La tradition rapporte que depuis tout petit, et malgré les réticences familiales, il récitait plusieurs fois par jour le Crédo.

Partit à Bologne, quand l’âge fut venu, pour faire ses études, il y fit la rencontre des Frères prêcheurs et finit même par y rentrer, du vivant encore de saint Dominique de Guzman, leur fondateur.

Après son ordination, il se lança dans la prédication ― c’est le but principal de son Ordre ― et prêcha, ce qui est un comble, contre les cathares du nord de l’Italie. Puis, sa renommée augmenta et il fut choisi comme prieur à Asti d’abord et à Plaisance ensuite. Toutefois, presque toute son activité se déroulera principalement à Milan, où il finit par fonder le Monastère dominicain de San Pietro in Campo Santo.

Tout en luttant contre les croyances des cathares, il se consacra à la formation chrétienne des laïcs, à la diffusion du culte de la Vierge, et à la création d'institutions visant à la défense de l'orthodoxie catholique.

Ses prédications, renforcées par de solides connaissances de la Bible, s'accompagnaient d'une vie d'ascèse et de charité, des miracles lui sont aussi attribués.

Á Florence, il noua de profondes amitiés avec les sept fondateurs de l’Ordre des Servites de Marie, et finit même par devenir leur conseiller.

Mais ses activités ne s’arrêtent pas là, car le Pape Innocent IV le nomma, en 1251, inquisiteur pour Milan et Côme. En cette dernière ville il fut aussi nommé prieur du couvent de son Ordre.

Il fut l'un des plus redoutables inquisiteurs et envoya au bûcher bon nombre de cathares. Son action suscita beaucoup de haine, ce qui fit dire à Pierre qu'il s'attendait à mourir de mort violente. Et il avait raison, car, en effet, le 6 avril 1252, jour de Pâques, il fut attaqué sur la route de Côme à Milan par un certain Pietro da Balsamo dit Carino — qui plus tard eût des remords et entra chez les Dominicains et y mourut en odeur de sainteté —, blessé par un coup de serpe et poignardé ensuite.

Deux ans après sa mort, sa renommée de sainteté était telle que le Pape Innocent IV le canonisa, “pour exalter en lui le héros de la lutte contre l'hérésie cathare”.

Dans sa Bulle de canonisation le Pape lui reconnaissait « dévotion, humilité, obéissance, bienveillance, piété, patience, charité » et le présentait comme un « amant fervent de la foi, son éminent connaisseur et son encore plus ardent défenseur ».

Alors que sa fête avait été fixée au 29 avril — pour l'Ordre —, l’Église universelle le fête le 6 avril, jour anniversaire de son assassinat.



Né à Vérone l’an 1206, de parents manichéens, saint Pierre combattit dès son enfance les hérétiques et entra dans l’Ordre des Frères Prêcheurs.

Il conserva son corps et son âme dans une telle pureté que jamais il ne commit un péché mortel. On lit dans sa Bulle de Canonisation : « Une grappe choisie dans la vigne de l’Église a rempli de son suc généreux le calice royal ; la branche dont elle a été détachée par le fer était des plus adhérentes au cep divin ».

L’ardeur de sa Foi l’enflammait tellement qu’il souhaitait de mourir pour elle et fut exaucé.

« Vivant en effet pieusement dans le Christ il fallait qu’il fût persécuté », et un impie sicaire envoyé par les manichéens l’assassina sur la route de Côme à Milan en 1252.

Demandons à Dieu de nous donner, par les mérites de saint Pierre, une Foi si forte qu’elle nous obtienne, après toutes les adversités de cette vie, les joies de la résurrection.

Pierre, né à Vérone l’an 1206, Innocent III étant pape, Philippe empereur et Philippe-Auguste roi de France, de parents infectés de l’hérésie manichéenne, commença presque dès son enfance à combattre les sectaires.

Âgé de sept ans, et comme il fréquentait les écoles, son oncle, hérétique, lui demandait ce qu’il y apprenait : « Le symbole de la foi chrétienne » répondit-il ; et rien, ni les caresses ni les menaces de son père et de son oncle, ne put ébranler la constance de sa Foi.

Il se rendit, durant son adolescence, à Bologne pour y achever ses études, et là, appelé par l’Esprit-Saint à une vie plus sublime, il entra dans l’institut des Frères Prêcheurs.

« Dans cet ordre, Pierre brilla d’une grande splendeur de vertu ; il garda si soigneusement son âme et son corps de toute impureté que jamais il ne se sentit coupable d’aucun péché mortel. Il macérait sa chair par les jeûnes et les veilles ; il exerçait son esprit par la contemplation des choses divines. Il se livrait assidûment au soin du salut des âmes, et il réfutait ardemment les hérétiques par le don d’une grâce particulière. La force de son éloquence était telle dans la prédication qu’une multitude innombrable accourait pour l’entendre et que beaucoup se tournaient vers la pénitence.

« Il était enflammé d’une si grande ardeur de foi qu’il désirait périr pour la religion et sollicitait énergiquement cette grâce de Dieu. Aussi les hérétiques lui donnèrent-ils la mort, ainsi qu’il l’avait prédit peu de temps auparavant dans un de ses sermons. Il exerçait la charge d’Inquisiteur et revenait de Côme à Milan, lorsqu’un sicaire le frappa à deux reprises d’un coup d’épée sur la tête. Pierre, à demi-mort, prononça, avant de rendre le dernier soupir, ce symbole qu’il avait tout enfant confessé avec un courage viril ; un nouveau coup de poignard lui perça la poitrine, et son âme alla chercher au Ciel la palme du martyre, l’an 1252 du salut. Devenu célèbre par de nombreux miracles, il fut placé au catalogue des Saints martyrs par Innocent IV, l’année suivante. » (Légende du Bréviaire romain)

C’était l’an 1252, Innocent IV étant pape, Conrad IV empereur et saint Louis IX roi de France.


St. Peter of Verona

Born at Verona, 1206; died near Milan, 6 April, 1252. His parents were adherents of the Manichæan heresy, which still survived in northern Italy in the thirteenth century. Sent to a Catholic school, and later to theUniversity of Bologna, he there met St. Dominic, and entered the Order of the Friars Preachers. Such were hisvirtues, severity of life and doctrine, talent for preaching, and zeal for the Faith, that Gregory IX made him general inquisitor, and his superiors destined him to combat the Manichæan errors. In that capacity heevangelized nearly the whole of Italy, preaching in Rome, Florence, Bologna, Genoa, and Como. Crowds came to meet him and followed him wherever he went; and conversions were numerous. He never failed to denounce thevices and errors of Catholics who confessed the Faith by words, but in deeds denied it. The Manichæans did all they could to compel the inquisitor to cease from preaching against their errors and propaganda. Persecutions,calumnies, threats, nothing was left untried.


When returning from Como to Milan, he met a certain Carino who with some other Manichæans had plotted tomurder him. The assassin struck him with an axe on the head with such violence, that the holy man fell half dead. Rising to his knees he recited the first article of the Symbol of the Apostles, and offering his blood as asacrifice to God he dipped his fingers in it and wrote on the ground the words: "Credo in Deum". The murdererthen pierced his heart. The body was carried to Milan and laid in the church of St. Eustorgio, where a magnificent mausoleum, the work of Balduccio Pisano, was erected to his memory. He wrought many miracles when living, but they were even more numerous after his martyrdom, so that Innocent IV canonized him on 25 March, 1253.

Sources

MARCHESE, Vita di S. Pietro Martire (Fiesole, 1894); HINDS, A Garner of Saints (London, 1900); PERRENS, St Pierre martyr et l'hérésie des Patarins à Florence in Rev. Histor., II (1876), 337-66; Acta SS. (1678), April, III, 678-86.


Allaria, Anthony. "St. Peter of Verona." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 27 Apr. 2015 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11773d.htm>.





In 1205, the future saint was born in Verona, in northern Italy. Despite his parents, who had Manichean tendencies, Peter attended a school established in the truths of Catholicism. One day his uncle asked Peter what he had learned in school. “The Creed,” answered Peter. “I believe in God, Creator of heaven and earth.” No arguments could shake his faith, and at the age of sixteen he received the habit from St. Dominic.

After his ordination, St. Peter preached to the heretics of Lombardy and converted multitudes. He was constantly obliged to dispute with heretics. Although he was able to confound them, the devil still seized the opportunity to tempt him against faith. Instantly he would have recourse to prayer before an image of Our Lady. On one occasion, Peter heard a voice repeating the words of Jesus Christ in the Gospel, “I have prayed for you, Peter, that your faith may not fail; and you shall confirm your brethren in it” (Luke 22:32).

Peter often conversed with the saints. One day the virgin-martyrs Catherine, Agnes and Cecilia appeared to him. A passing religious, hearing their feminine voices, accused him to their Superior, who without hesitation or questions exiled Peter to a convent where no preaching was being done. St. Peter submitted humbly, but complained in prayer to Jesus crucified that He was abandoning him to his bad reputation. The crucifix spoke, “And I, Peter, was I too not innocent? Learn from me to suffer the greatest sorrows with joy.” Eventually Peter’s innocence was brought to light.

Again engaged in preaching, miracles accompanied St. Peter’s exhortations. He traveled across Italy and became well-known. Once, when preaching to a vast crowd under the burning sun, the heretics challenged him to procure shade for his listeners. As he prayed, a cloud overshadowed the audience.

Every day at the elevation of the Mass St. Peter prayed, “Grant, Lord, that I may die for Thee, who for me didst die.” His prayer was answered. Peter’s enemies, whom he had confounded, sought his life. Two of them attacked him in 1252 on the road to Milan, striking his head with an ax. St. Peter fell, commended himself to God, dipped his finger in his own shed blood, and wrote on the ground, Credo in unum Deum—I believe in God. He was then stabbed to death. The brother religious accompanying him also suffered death. The details of the crime were made known by St. Peter’s murderer, Carino, who after fleeing from justice confessed his crime, asking for a penance from the Dominican Fathers. He took the habit and according to their testimony, lived the life of a saint, persevering to the end.


Peter Martyr, OP M (RM)
(also known as Peter of Verona)


Born in Verona, Italy, 1206; died April 6, 1252; canonized by Pope Innocent IV in 1253--a single year after his death.


Peter's parents belonged to the heretical sect of the Cathari, theological descendants of the Manichees. Miraculously, though he was ridiculed for his faith throughout his youth, it was preserved in purity and he became a Dominican. His father sent him to a Catholic for his early education, thinking that the environment at home would keep Peter from being deceived by the teachings of the Church.

Nevertheless, one of the first things Peter learned there was the Apostle's Creed, which the Cathari abhorred. Making conversation on day, his uncle asked him his lesson. The boy recited the creed and explained it in the Catholic sense, especially in those words: Creator of heaven and earth. In vain his uncle tried to persuade him it was false. He said that it was not God, but the evil principle that made all things that are visible; the Cathari viewed the physical world as ugly and bad, which is inconsistent with the concept of an infinitely perfect being. The boy's resolute steadiness concerned his uncle, but his father laughed at his brother's fears believing that the world would corrupt his son.

When he was 15, Peter was sent to the University of Bologna, a hotbed of licentiousness. There he met Saint Dominic, and instantly threw himself at the saint's feet to beg admission to the Order of Friar Preachers. Peter was present at the death of the founder soon after, and shared in the primitive zeal and courage of the sons of a saint.

While still a student, Peter experienced a severe trial. He was publicly reprimanded and punished because a brother, passing Peter's cell late at night, thought he had heard women's voices in his room. The voices were those of angels, who frequently visited the saint: but in his humility, he thought it better to accept the punishment and say nothing about the favors God had granted him. He was sent to the remote little Dominican convent of Jesi, in the marquisate of Ancona, to do penance, and his ordination was delayed.

Peter found great strength in prayer. Nevertheless, he was human and felt the sting of the disgrace. One day he complained to the Lord: "Lord, You know that I am innocent of this: Why do you allow them to believe it?" A sorrowful voice replied from the crucifix: "And I, Peter, what have I done that they should do this to Me?" Peter complained no more. The truth was eventually discovered, and Peter resumed his studies and was ordained to the priesthood.

Peter soon became a celebrated preacher throughout northern and central Italy, and, in 1232, an inquisitor to fight against the heresy that had infected his family and others in Lombardy. Many miracles (filling 22 pages in folio in the Acta Sanctorum) were worked through his prayers, to the rage of the heretics. Crowds nearly pressed him to death many times: some to ask his blessing, others to offer the sick to him to be cured, others to receive his holy instructions.

In one city, a prominent man had been won to heresy, because the devil, taking the form of the Blessed Virgin, appeared at the heretics' meetings and encouraged him to join them. Peter, determined to win the man back to the truth, went to the meeting and, when the devil appeared in his disguise, held up a small pyx in which he had placed a consecrated Host. "If you are the Mother of God," cried Peter, "adore your Son!" The devel fled in dismay and many were converted.

Among other miracles, he predicted that he would be murdered by heretics, who indeed waylaid him on the road between Como and Milan. Peter went to his death singing the Easter Sequence, and fell unprotesting beneath the blows of his assassins. Carino cut his head with an ax, and then his companion Dominic stabbed him. As Peter rose to his knees and commended himself to God, Carino killed him with a blow of his axe to Peter's side. One of his murderers, "Blessed" Carino, was touched by grace at the sight of a saint, was converted, and eventually became a Dominican at Forli. To him as to us, Peter had pointed out the way to heaven when he traced on the dust of the road, in his own blood, the creed that had lighted his path: "Credo in unum Deum."

Peter's body was ceremoniously buried in the Dominicans' church dedicated to St. Eustorgius, in Milan, where it still rests. His head is kept separately in a crystal and gold case. So many miracles were worked at his shrine that many of the Cathari asked to be admitted to the Catholic Church (Benedictines, Dorcy, Encyclopedia, Husenbeth).

In art, Saint Peter is a Dominican with a gash or knife in his head. Occasionally, the knife is in his shoulder. Sometimes he is portrayed (1) with his finger on his lips; (2) writing credo in unum deum in the dust as he dies; (3) stabbed in the forest with his companion; or (4) with the Virgin and four female saints appearing to him (Roeder). Peter is the patron of midwives and inquisitors and venerated in Verona (Roeder).

SOURCE : http://www.saintpatrickdc.org/ss/0429.shtml

Saint Peter of Verona, martyr

By Paul Zalonski

Let us rejoice in celebrating the victory of Saint Peter Martyr. On earth he proclaimed Christ's love for us. Now Christ leads him to a place of honor before his Father in heaven.

Almighty God, you crowned our brother Peter with martyrdom for confessing the true faith with perseverance. Give to us, your people, that same faith that we too may receive the gift of salvation.

From a Vita

"He [Saint Peter of Verona, martyr, 1206-1252] was marked by great perfection as a Friar: so watchful was he over the purity of his body and soul that he never felt himself defiled by a mortal sin. He chastened his body by fasting and watching, and ennobled his soul by the contemplation of the things of God. He was constantly busied in works for furthering the salvation of souls; and had a peculiar gift of grace for clearly convincing heretics. Such was his power as a preacher, that countless crowds were drawn together to hear him, and many were moved to repentance."

In the history of the Dominican order Saint Peter of Verona was among the first generation of followers of Saint Dominic. Peter's own family were adherents to the Cathar heresy which prompted the founding of the Friars Preachers. While not the first martyr among the Dominicans he is the first saint of the Order. The working of God's grace in men's hearts saw the conversion of Peter's murderer, Carino of Balsamo, and his admission to the Dominican Order as a lay brother. What beauty there is in the conversion of sinners and growth of grace to the point of fully dedicating one's life to God under the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience. Since we are all created for communion with God and others Peter's killer was brought into that communion. One can say that Saint Peter of Verona's was the condition of another's full communion with God. Brother Carino recalled his crime but confessed his sin and did penance for the rest of his life; he is buried at the Cathedral of Forli. Brother Carino is a beatus of the Church; Blessed Carino's liturgical memorial is April 28, the date of the translation of his relics.

SOURCE : http://communio.stblogs.org/2010/06/saint-peter-of-verona-martyr.html

Saint Peter of Verona, M.O.P

Feast Day: April 29th

Profile

    Saint Peter's parents belonged to the heretical sect of the Cathari, theological descendants of the Manichees. Miraculously, he became Catholic, regardless of his heresy believing parents. Because of his Catholic convictions, he was ridiculed for his faith throughout his youth, it was preserved in purity and he became a Dominican. His father sent him to a Catholic school for a good early education, thinking that the heretical environment at home would keep Peter from being "deceived" by the teachings of the Catholic Church.

    Nevertheless, one of the first things Peter learned there was the Apostle's Creed, which the Cathari abhorred. Making conversation on day, his uncle asked him his lesson. The boy recited the creed and explained it in the Catholic sense, especially in those words: Creator of heaven and earth. In vain his uncle tried to persuade him it was false. He said that it was not God, but the evil principle that made all things that are visible; the Cathari viewed the physical world as ugly and bad, which is inconsistent with the concept of an infinitely perfect being. The boy's resolute steadiness concerned his uncle, but his father laughed at his brother's fears believing that the world would influence  his son into his beliefs.

    When he was 15, Peter was sent to the University of Bologna, a hotbed of licentiousness. There he met Saint Dominic, and instantly threw himself at the saint's feet to beg admission to the Order of Friar Preachers. Peter was present at the death of the founder soon after, and shared in the primitive zeal and courage of the sons of a saint.

    While still a student, Peter experienced a severe trial. He was publicly reprimanded and punished because a brother, passing Peter's cell late at night, thought he had heard women's voices in his room. The voices were those of angels, who frequently visited the saint: but in his humility, he thought it better to accept the punishment and say nothing about the favors God had granted him. He was sent to the remote little Dominican convent of Jesi, in the marquisate of Ancona, to do penance, and his ordination was delayed.

    Peter found great strength in prayer. Nevertheless, he was human and felt the sting of the disgrace. One day he complained to the Lord: "Lord, You know that I am innocent of this: Why do you allow them to believe it?" A sorrowful voice replied from the crucifix: "And I, Peter, what have I done that they should do this to Me?" Peter complained no more. The truth was eventually discovered, and Peter resumed his studies and was ordained to the priesthood.

    Peter soon became a celebrated preacher throughout northern and central Italy, and, in 1232, an inquisitor to fight against the heresy that had infected his family and others in Lombardy. Many miracles (filling 22 pages in folio in the Acta Sanctorum) were worked through his prayers, to the rage of the heretics. Crowds nearly pressed him to death many times: some to ask his blessing, others to offer the sick to him to be cured, others to receive his holy instructions.

    In one city, a prominent man had been won to heresy, because the devil, taking the form of the Blessed Virgin, appeared at the heretics' meetings and encouraged him to join them. Peter, determined to win the man back to the truth, went to the meeting and, when the devil appeared in his disguise, held up a small pox in which he had placed a consecrated Host. "If you are the Mother of God," cried Peter, "adore your Son!" The devil fled in dismay and many were converted.

    Among other miracles, he predicted that he would be murdered by heretics, who indeed waylaid him on the road between Como and Milan. Peter went to his death singing the Easter Sequence, and fell unprotesting beneath the blows of his assassins. Carino cut his head with an ax, and then his companion Dominic stabbed him. As Peter rose to his knees and commended himself to God, Carino killed him with a blow of his axe to Peter's side. One of his murderers, "Blessed" Carino, was touched by grace at the sight of a saint, was converted, and eventually became a Dominican at Forli. To him as to us, Peter had pointed out the way to heaven when he traced on the dust of the road, in his own blood, the creed that had lighted his path: "Credo in unum Deum."

    Peter's body was ceremoniously buried in the Dominicans' church dedicated to St. Eustorgius, in Milan, where he still rests. His head is kept separately in a crystal and gold case. So many miracles were worked at his shrine that many of the Cathari asked to be admitted to the Catholic Church (Benedictines, Dorcy, Encyclopedia, Husenbeth).

Born: Verona, Italy, 1206

Died: Martyred April 6, 1252

Canonized: canonized by Pope Innocent IV in 1253--a single year after his death.

Patronage: Peter is the patron of midwives and inquisitors and venerated in Verona (Roeder).

Representation: In art, Saint Peter is a Dominican with a gash or knife in his head. Occasionally, the knife is in his shoulder. Sometimes he is portrayed (1) with his finger on his lips; (2) writing credo in unum deum in the dust as he dies; (3) stabbed in the forest with his companion; or (4) with the Virgin and four female saints appearing to him (Roeder).

Prayers/Commemorations

First Vespers:

Ant. O Peter, illustrious Martyr and glory of the Preachers, graced  with virginity and endowed with eloquence, miraculous powers and grace, according us the favor of thy loving clemency, after our passage through the world bring us to eternal delights, alleluia.

V. Pray for us , Blessed Peter, alleluia.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ, alleluia.

Lauds:

Ant. Endowed with perfect purity, brilliant with the grace of knowledge, illustrious for the victory of martyrdom , Peter shines with the glory of a triple crown, alleluia.

V. A crown of gold is on his head, alleluia.

R. Signed with the sign of sanctity, alleluia.

Second Vespers:

Ant. O illustrious Martyr, teacher of truth, vessel of purity, model of sanctity, bestow upon us through thy intercession pardon of sins and life in glory with the blessed, alleluia.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Peter, alleluia.

R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ, alleluia.

Prayers:

Let us Pray: Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that we may imitate with befitting devotion the faith of blessed peter, Thy Martyr, who for the spreading of that faith was made worthy to obtain the palm of martyrdom. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Readings

Here silent is Christ's Herald;
Here quenched, the People's Light;
Here lies the martyred Champion
Who fought Faith's holy fight.

The Voice the sheep heard gladly,
The light they loved to see
He fell beneath the weapons
Of graceless Cathari.

The Savior crowns His Soldier;
His praise the people psalm.
The Faith he kept adorns him
With martyr's fadeless palm.

His praise new marvels utter,
New light he spreads abroad
And now the whole wide city
Knows well the path to God.

-Saint Thomas of Aquinas in eulogy of Saint Peter


SOURCE : http://www.willingshepherds.org/Dominican%20Saint%20III.html#Hosanna

April 29

St. Peter, Martyr

From his life, by Thomas of Leontino, a Dominican friar, who had resided long with him at Verona, and was afterwards patriarch of Jerusalem, &c., collected by Touron in his life of St. Dominic, p. 480. See also the remarks of Papebroke, t. 3, Apr. p. 679.

A.D. 1252.

ST. PETER the martyr was born at Verona, in 1205, of parents infected with the heresy of the Cathari, a sort of Manichees, who had insensibly made their way into the northern parts of Italy, during the quarrel between the Emperor Frederic Barbarossa and the holy see. 1 God preserved him from the danger which attended his birth, of being infected with heretical sentiments. His father being desirous of giving him an early tincture of learning, sent him, while very young, to a Catholic schoolmaster; not questioning but by his own instruction afterwards, and by the child’s conversing with his heretical relations, he should be able to efface whatever impressions he might receive at school to the contrary. One of the first things he learned there was the apostles’ creed, which the Manichees held in abhorrence. His uncle one day, out of curiosity, asked him his lesson. The boy recited to him the creed, and explained it in the Catholic sense, especially in those words: Creator of heaven and earth. In vain did his uncle long endeavour to persuade him it was false, and that it was not God, but the evil principle that made all things that are visible; pretending many things in the world to be ugly and bad, which he thought inconsistent with the idea we ought to entertain of an infinitely perfect being. The resolute steadiness which the boy showed on the occasion, his uncle looked upon as a bad omen for their sect; but the father laughed at his fears, and sent Peter to the university of Bologna, in which city then reigned a licentious corruption of manners among the youth. God, however, who had before protected him from heresy, preserved the purity of his heart and the innocence of his manners amidst these dangers. Nevertheless he continually deplored his melancholy situation, and fortified himself every day anew in the sovereign horror of sin, and in all precautions against it. To fly it more effectually, he addressed himself to St. Dominic, and though but fifteen years of age, received at his hands the habit of his Order. But he soon lost that holy director, whom God called to glory. Peter continued with no less fervour to square his life by the maxims and spirit of his holy founder, and to practise his rule with the most scrupulous exactness and fidelity. He went beyond it even in those times of its primitive fervour. He was assiduous in prayer; his watchings and fasts were such, that even in his novitiate they considerably impaired his health; but a mitigation in them restored it before he made his solemn vows. When by them he had happily deprived himself of his liberty, to make the more perfect sacrifice of his life to God, he drew upon him the eyes of all his brethren by his profound humility, incessant prayer, exact silence, and general mortification of his senses and inclinations. He was a professed enemy of idleness, which he knew to be the bane of all virtues. Every hour of the day had its employment allotted to it; he being always either studying, reading, praying, serving the sick, or occupying himself in the most mean and abject offices, such as sweeping the house, &c., which, to entertain himself in sentiments of humility, he undertook with wonderful alacrity and satisfaction, even when he was senior in religion. But prayer was, as it were, the seasoning both of his sacred studies (in which he made great progress) and of all his other actions. The awakening dangers of salvation he had been exposed to, from which the divine mercy had delivered him in his childhood, served to make him always fearful, cautious, and watchful against the snares of his spiritual enemies. By this means, and by the most profound humility, he was so happy as, in the judgment of his superiors and directors, to have preserved his baptismal innocence unsullied to his death by the guilt of any mortal sin. Gratitude to his Redeemer for the graces he had received, a holy zeal for his honour, and a tender compassion for sinners, moved him to apply himself with great zeal and diligence to procure the conversion of souls to God. This was the subject of his daily tears and prayers; and for this end, after he was promoted to the holy order of priesthood, he entirely devoted himself to the function of preaching, for which his superiors found him excellently qualified by the gifts both of nature and grace. He converted an incredible number of heretics and sinners in the Romagna, the marquisate of Ancona, Tuscany, the Bolognese, and the Milanese. And it was by many tribulations, which befel him during the course of his ministry, that God prepared him for the crown of martyrdom. He was accused by some of his own brethren of admitting strangers, and even women, into his cell. He did not allow the charge, because this would have been a lie, but he defended himself, without positively denying it, and with trembling in such a manner as to be believed guilty, not of anything criminal, but of a breach of his rule: and his superiors imposed on him a claustral punishment, banished him to the remote little Dominican convent of Jesi, in the marquisite of Ancona, and removed him from the office of preaching. Peter received this humiliation with great interior joy, on seeing himself suffer something in imitation of Him, who, being infinite sanctity, bore with patience and silence the most grievous slanders, afflictions, and torments for our sake. But after some months his innocence was cleared, and he was commanded to return and resume his former functions with honour. He appeared every where in the pulpits with greater zeal and success than ever, and his humility drew on his labours an increase of graces and benedictions. The fame of his public miracles attested in his life, and of the numberless wonderful conversions wrought by him, procured him universal respect: as often as he appeared in public, he was almost pressed to death by the crowds that flocked to him, some to ask his blessing, others to offer the sick to him to be cured, others to receive his holy instructions. He declared war in all places against vice. In the Milanese he was met in every place with the cross, banner, trumpets, and drums; and was often carried on a litter on men’s shoulders, to pass the crowd. He was made superior of several houses of his order, and in the year 1232 was constituted by the pope inquisitor general of the faith. He had ever been the terror of the new Manichee heretics, a sect whose principles and practice tended to the destruction of civil society and Christian morals. Now they saw him invested with this dignity, they conceived a greater hatred than ever against him. They bore it however under the popedom of Gregory IX., but seeing him continued in his office, and discharging it with still greater zeal under Pope Innocent IV., they conspired his death, and hired two assassins to murder him on his return from Como to Milan. The ruffians lay in ambush for him on his road, and one of them, Carinus by name, gave him two cuts on the head with an axe, and then stabbed his companion, called Dominic. Seeing Peter rise on his knees, and hearing him recommend himself to God by those words: Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my soul, and recite the creed, he dispatched him by a wound in the side with his cuttle-axe, on the 6th of April, in 1252, the saint being forty-six years and some days old. His body was pompously buried in the Dominicans’ church dedicated to St. Eustorgius, in Milan, where it still rests: his head is kept apart in a case of crystal and gold. The heretics were confounded at his heroic death, and at the wonderful miracles God wrought at his shrine; and in great numbers desired to be admitted into the bosom of the Catholic church. Carinus, the murderer of the martyr, fled out of the territory of Milan to the city of Forli, where, being struck with remorse, he renounced his heresy, put on the habit of a lay-brother among the Dominicans, and persevered in penance to the edification of many. St. Peter was canonized the year after his death by Innocent IV., who appointed his festival to be kept on the 29th of April. The history of miracles, performed by his relics and intercession, fills twenty-two pages in folio in the Acta Sanctorum, by the Bollandists, Apr. t. 3, p. 697 to 719.

Our divine Redeemer was pleased to represent himself to us, both for a model to all who should exercise the pastoral charge in his church, and for the encouragement of sinners, under the figure of the good shepherd, who, having sought and found his lost sheep, with joy carried it back to the fold on his shoulders. The primitive Christians were so delighted with this emblem of his tender love and mercy, that they engraved the figure of the good shepherd, loaded with the lost sheep on his shoulders, on the sacred chalices which they used for the holy mysteries or at mass, as we learn from Tertullian. 2 This figure is found frequently represented in the tombs of the primitive Christians in the ancient Christian cemeteries at Rome. 3 All pastors of souls ought to have continually before their eyes this example of the good shepherd and prince of pastors. The aumusses, or furs, which most canons, both secular and regular, wear, are a remnant of the skins or furs worn by many primitive pastors for their garments. They wore them not only as badges of a penitential life, in imitation of those saints in the Old Law who wandered about in poverty, clad with skins, as St. Paul describes them, 4 and of St. Antony and many other primitive Christian anchorets, but chiefly to put them in mind of their obligation of imitating the great pastor of souls in seeking the lost sheep, and carrying it back on his shoulders: also of putting on his meekness, humility, and obedience, represented under his adorable title of Lamb of God, and that of sheep devoted to be immolated by death. Every Christian, in conforming himself spiritually to this divine model, must study daily to die more and more to himself and to the world. In the disposition of his soul, he must also be ready to make the sacrifice of his life.

Note 1. The Ven. F. Moneta, the beloved disciple of St. Dominic, in Italy, wrote about the year 1730, five books adversus Catharos et Waldenses, which F. Ricchini published at Rome in 1743. From this work, and the editor’s preliminary dissertations and notes, we learn many curious articles relating to the errors and history of these heretics. [back]

Note 2. Tertul. de Pudic. c. 7. [back]

Note 3. See Bartoli, Le Antiche Lucerne Sepolcrali flgurate in Roma, an. 1729, n. 28, 29, and Phil. Buonarruoti, Osservazioni sopra alcuni Frammenti di Vasi, pp. 1, 3, 28, 29, 30, 31. [back]

Note 4. Hebr. xi. 37. [back]

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73).  Volume IV: April. The Lives of the Saints.  1866.


St. Peter of Verona, Martyr († 1252; Feast – April 29)

The hero chosen this day by the Church to greet our Risen Lord was so valiant in the good fight that martyrdom is part of his name. He is also known as Peter the Martyr; so that we cannot speak of him without raising the echo of victory. He was put to death by heretics, and is the grand tribute paid to our Redeemer by the 13th century. Never was there a triumph hailed with greater enthusiasm than this one. The martyrdom of St. Thomas of Canterbury excited the admiration of the faithful of the preceding century, for nothing was so dear to our forefathers as the liberty of the Church; the martyrdom of St. Peter was celebrated with a like intensity of praise and joy. Let us hearken to the fervent eloquence of the great Pontiff Innocent IV, who thus begins the Bull of the Martyr's canonization: "The truth of the Christian Faith, manifested, as it has been, by great and frequent miracles, is now beautified by the new merit of a new Saint. Lo! a combatant of these our own times comes, bringing us new and great and triumphant signs. The voice of his blood shed (for Christ) is heard, and the fame of his martyrdom is trumpeted throughout the world. The land is not silent that sweateth with his blood; the country that produced so noble a warrior resounds with his praise; yea, the very sword that did the deed of parricide proclaims his glory… Mother Church has great reason to rejoice, and abundant matter for gladness; She has cause to sing a new canticle to the Lord, and a hymn of fervent praise to Her God… the Christian people has cause to give forth devout songs to its Creator. A sweet fruit, gathered in the garden of faith, has been set upon the table of the Eternal King: a grape-bunch taken from the vineyard of the Church has filled the royal cup with new wine… The flourishing Order of Preachers has produced a red rose, whose sweetness is most grateful to the King; and from the Church here on earth there has been taken a stone, which, after being cut and polished, has deserved a place of honor in the temple of Heaven."

Such was the language wherewith the Supreme Pontiff spoke of the new Martyr, and the people responded by celebrating his Feast with extraordinary devotion. It was kept as were the ancient festivals, that is, all servile work was forbidden upon it. The churches served by the Fathers of the Dominican Order were crowded on his Feast; and the faithful took little branches with them, that they might be blessed in memory of the triumph of Peter the Martyr.

How are we to account for all this fervent devotion of the people towards Saint Peter? It was because he died in defense of the Faith; and nothing was so dear to the Christians of those days as faith. Saint Peter had received the charge to seize all the heretics who at that time were causing geat disturbance and scandal in the country around Milan. They were called Cathari, but in reality were Manicheans; their teachings were detestable, and their lives most immoral. Saint Peter fulfilled his duty with a firmness and equity which soon secured him the hatred of the heretics; and when he fell a victim to his holy courage, a cry of admiration and gratitude was heard throughout Christendom. Nothing could be more devoid of truth than the accusations brought by the enemies of the Church and their indiscreet abettors against the measures formerly decreed by the public law of Catholic nations, in order to foil the efforts made by evil-minded men to injure the true Faith. In those times, no tribunal was so popular as that whose office it was to protect the Faith, and to put down all those who attacked it. It was to the Order of St. Dominic that this office was mainly entrusted; and well may they be proud of the honor of having so long held one so beneficial to the salvation of mankind. How many of its members have met with a glorious death in the exercise of their stern duty! Saint Peter is the first of the Martyrs given by the Order for this holy cause: his name, however, heads a long list of others who were his brethren in religion, his successors in the defense of the Faith, and his followers to martrydom. The coercive measures that were once, and successfully, used to defend the faithful from heretical teachers have long since ceased to be used: but for us Catholics, our judgment of them must surely be that of the Church. She bids us today to honor as a Martyr one of Her Saints, who was put to death whilst resisting the wolves that threatened the sheep of Christ's fold; should we not be guilty of disrespect to our Mother the Church if we dared to condemn what She so highly approves? Far, then, be from us that cowardly bowing to the spirit of the age, which would make us ashamed of the courageous efforts made by our forefathers for the preservation of the Faith! Far from us that childish readiness to believe the calumnies of Protestants against an institution which they naturally detest! Far from us that deplorable confusion of ideas which puts truth and error on an equality, and, from the fact that error can have no rights, concludes that truth can claim none!

The following is the account given us by the Church of the virtues and heroism of Saint Peter the Martyr:

Peter was born at Verona of parents who were infected with the heresy of the Manichees; but he himself, almost from his very infancy, fought against heresies. When he was seven years old, he was one day asked by an uncle, who was a heretic, what they taught him at the school to which he went. He answered that they taught him the Creed of the Christian Faith. His father and uncle did all they could, both by promises and threats, to shake the firmness of his faith: but all to no purpose. When old enough, he went to Bologna, in order to pursue his studies. Whilst there, he was called by the Holy Ghost to a life of perfection, and obeyed the call by entering the Order of St. Dominic.

Great were his virtues as a Religious. So careful was he to keep both body and soul from whatsoever could sully their purity, that his conscience never accused him of committing a mortal sin. He mortified his body by fasting and watching, and applied his mind to the contemplation of heavenly things. He labored incessantly for the salvation of souls, and was gifted with a special grace for refuting heretics. He was so earnest when preaching, that people used to go in crowds to hear him, and numerous were the conversions that ensued.

The ardor of his Faith was such that he wished he might die for it, and earnestly did he beg that favor from God. This death, which he foretold a short time before in one of his sermons, was inflicted on him by the heretics. Whilst returning from Como to Milan, in the discharge of the duties of the holy Inquisition, he was attacked by a wicked assassin, who struck him twice on the head with a sword. The Creed, which he had confessed with manly courage when but a child, he now began to recite with his dying lips; and having received another wound in his side, he went to receive a martyr's palm in Heaven, in the year of Our Lord 1252. Numerous miracles attested his sanctity, and his name was enrolled the following year by Innocent IV in the list of the Martyrs.

O Holy Protector of the Christian people! what other motive hadst thou, in all thy labors, but charity? What else but a desire to defend the weak from danger induced thee not only to preach against error, but to drive its wicked teachers from the flock? How many simple souls, who were receiving divine truth from the teaching of the Church, have been deceived by the lying sophistry of heretical doctrine, and have lost their precious Faith? Surely the Church would do Her utmost to ward off such dangers from Her children; She would do all She could to defend them from enemies, who were bent on destroying the glorious inheritance which had been handed down to them by millions of Martyrs! She knew the strange tendency that often exists in the heart of fallen man to love error; whereas truth, though of itself pure and unchanging, is not sure of its remaining firmly in the mind, unless it be defended by learning or by faith. As to learning, there are but few who possess it; and as to faith, error is ever conspiring against it, and, of course, with the false appearance of truth. In the Christian ages it would have been deemed not only criminal, but absurd, to grant to error the liberty which is due only to truth; and they that were in authority considered it a duty to keep the weak from danger, by removing from them all occasions of a fall; just as the father of a family keeps his children from coming in contact with wicked companions who could easily deceive them in their inexperience, and lead them to evil under the name of good.

Obtain for us, O Holy Martyr, a keen appreciation of the precious gift of Faith – that element which keeps us in the way of salvation. May we zealously do everything that lies in our power to preserve it, both in ourselves and in them that are under our care. The love of this Holy Faith has grown cold in so many hearts; and frequent discourse with heretics or free-thinkers has made them think and speak of matters of Faith in a very loose way. Pray for them, O Saint Peter, that they may recover that fearless love of the truths of religion which should be one of the chief traits of the Christian character. As we all live in an age when the modernist system prevails of treating all religions alike – that is, of giving equal rights to error and to truth – let us be all the more courageous in professing the truth, and detesting the errors opposed to the truth. Pray for us, O Holy Martyr, that there may be enkindled within us an ardent love of that Faith without which it is impossible to please God (Hebr. 11: 6). Pray that we may become all earnestness in this duty, which is of vital importance to salvation; that thus our Faith may daily gain strength within us, till at length we shall merit to see in Heaven what we have believed unhesitatingly on earth. Amen.