Today is the feast day of Saint Peter Gonzales. Ora pro nobis.
Peter Gonzalez was born in 1190 in the city of Astorga, Spain, of an illustrious family. His parents, wishing him to achieve a prestigious office, offered him to be raised by his maternal uncle, the bishop of Astorga. (2)
He was brought up by his maternal uncle, a bishop in the region of Astorga. (1)
While still young, Peter was named canon of the cathedral. Despite his lack of study, and his tendency to spend his time in idle worldly pursuits, Peter was later chosen to become the head of the cathedral chapter, a significant honor. Just as Saint Paul was converted on the road to Damascus, Saint Peter Gonzales was similarly converted as he road toward the prestigious position he so desired. (2)
Saint Peter worked toward his perfection with fervor, and while still a novice manifested great generosity, ready to offer his services whenever an occasion presented itself. He later studied theology to serve his neighbor in the spirit of his Order, and became so competent that he was sent to preach and hear confessions. In so doing he won many souls for Christ. Everywhere he exhorted to penance, exalting the state of grace and painting in fearful terms that of mortal sin, with such efficacy that he overcame the most hardened hearts. (1)
Saint Peter’s fame became widespread, but he remained humble and obedient. When summoned to the royal court of King Ferdinand III, Peter accepted the post of court chaplain, exerting a positive influence on the behavior of the members of the court. He revitalized the faith of both the court and the army, whom he persuaded to refrain from pillaging Cordoba following their defeat of the Moors. Instead, the army extended compassion and Christian love to the soldiers, through his guidance, with many converting.
One member of the royal court soon became jealous of the influence Saint Peter held through his prayers and counsel. A trap was set, with a seductive courtesan approaching him, apparently to make her confession. When Peter recognized her design, he went to an adjoining room and wrapping himself in his cloak. Standing unharmed amidst a great fire which was lit there, he called her to him. She and his false friends were converted at the sight of this miracle. (1)
In fact, he abandoned the world and entered the austere Order of St. Dominic. He became an excellent religious and no less excellent preacher. His fame spread and reached the court of King St. Ferdinand of Castile, who asked his advice regarding the war against the Saracens. In fact, the saint accompanied the King in his expeditions against the Moors, particularly in the siege and taking of Cordova in 1236, which, from the year 718, had been the chief seat of the Moorish dominions in Spain.
Later he became apostle and preacher to the poor, and especially to sailors. He received the gift of miracles. He preached without stop until his last days and foretold his own death, which took place on April 15, 1246. The sailors of Spain and Portugal still invoke him in every storm under the name of St. Elmo (Elm or Telm). (3)
He lies buried in the cathedral of Tuy. (2)
Image: San Telmo o San Pedro González Telmo, patrón de los marineros. Esta representación corresponde a un retablo que se encuentra en el Alcázar de Sevilla. (4)
Research by Ed Masters, REGINA Staff