SAINT PETER OF VERONA
(Saint Peter Martyr)
In the English-speaking part of the world especially all too little is known about this illustrious Friar Preacher. Possibly this is in part due to the well-known bias in England against the old-time inquisition, which spread thence into the colonies founded by that country; for Saint Peter was closely connected with that institution. Indeed, by not a few he is considered as a man without a heart. Yet he was most compassionate His character was rounded out by an admirable strength of will and a mind so judiciously balanced that he neither shrank from duty, whatever the sacrifice, or even danger, it involved, nor allowed his heart to control his judgment.(1)
Father Thomas Agni of Leontino, another noted Dominican, archbishop of Cosenza, and later patriarch of Jerusalem, was the first to write a life of the blessed martyr. His testimony should he all the more reliable because he lived for many years with Saint Peter of Verona, had been his superior, and was an eye-witness of the principal events in his life. The work shows no signs of undue predilection. Agni's original manuscript was for long years at Saint Mark's Convent, Florence. Another, with some additions by Father Ambrose Taegio, was preserved in the Convent of Nostra Donna delle Grazie, Milan.(2)
The editors of the Acts of the Saints (Acta Sanctorum), commonly known as the Bollandists, in their third volume for April, gave Father Agni's life of Saint Peter to the public. Others have also written lives of him. We take advantage of these works, but pass over whatever might seem doubtful, or is of little importance, and give only those facts on which all the authors are in accord. Because of the abridged character of our narrative, the reader is left to his own imagination for the reflections that may be suggested by his personal piety.(3)
Saint Peter was born at Verona, Lombardy, in 1205 or 1206. When the Right Rev. Augustine Valerio, bishop of the same city, wrote his history of the diocese, the house in which our martyr was born still stood in Saint Stephen's Parish. His image was painted on the wall, with an inscription bearing the date of 1487.(4) The same prelate assures us that Saint Peter belonged to a noble family -- a fact which is not recorded by other historians. These simply tell us that his relations were adherents of new Manicheanism, which was then widely spread through Italy, and made open profession of their belief in its tenets. It was but natural that, in their misguided zeal, they should early seek to impregnate the mind of their son with the unholy teaching of their sect. Doubtless they never dreamed that providence had possibly caused him to he born in the bosom of heresy that he might he the better prepared to deal it a death-blow. At least we shall often find him in bitter conflict with the monstrous foe. Over it he gained many victories. We shall also soon see to what heaven destined him, and that the worldly wisdom of men not infrequently serves the designs of God rather than thwarts them.
Grace hastened to perfect little Peter's good natural disposition. From his earliest years, in order to arm him against the danger to which his birth exposed him, God gave him such a horror for the guiding principles which his parents and relatives sought to implant in his youthful mind that thenceforth he despised the praise of men and spurned their menaces. Neither the artificial discourses of the heretics nor their transports made the slightest impression on him. Thus, commencing to oppose error almost from the time he began life, he became the defender of religion and had the honor of suffering for the faith at an age when other people have not always attained the use of reason.
However displeasing these inclinations of his son, the cause of which he did not understand, were to the Manichean father, he flattered himself that they would disappear in the course of time. Accordingly, as there was no schoolmaster in Verona who belonged to his sect, he entrusted the boy's early education to Catholic teachers. By the time of his seventh year Peter had learned deeply to appreciate the grace which God had bestowed on him, and set himself to profit by it. One day, when asked by an uncle what he had learned at school, the future martyr immediately recited the first article of the Apostles' Creed, thereby proclaiming the unity of God, the Creator of all things, whether material and visible or spiritual and invisible. This was a denial of the principal error of the Manicheans. Nay, it was a rejection of the very foundation on which their heresy rested; for they held that there were two first principles or creators -- the one evil, from which came all material things; the other good, which is the cause of all spiritual beings.
Every means was used to persuade Peter, and even to oblige him to say, that all material things are the work of the devil, or the evil principle. "No," replied the youthful disciple of Christ; "there is but one first principle, the supreme God, omnipotent, and the sole Creator of heaven and earth. Whoever does not believe this truth can not he saved." The heretical uncle, confused by his defeat, and foreseeing what might come to pass, spoke sharply to his brother, and told him that the best thing he could do would he to take the boy out of the hands of Catholics as soon as possible. "For," he added, "I fear lest, when he becomes older and better instructed, he may destroy our religion, should he pass over to the prostitute" -- the name by which he designated the Catholic Church.
In these words the poor man unconsciously blasphemed and prophesied at the same time. As his brother was not less obstinately attached to the follies of Manicheanism than himself, he sought by the most impelling motive to bring him to his own sentiments. However, God did not permit this counsel to he followed. The vanity of Peter's father took keen delight in the boy's natural excellent qualities, which gave great promise in his studies. So he left him at the school.
It was then generally believed, says Baillet, that books and a college education were aids to the mind which one might use in any way. When therefore Peter completed his course in grammar and all that his early teachers were in a position to teach him, be was sent to the University of Bologna. Here, thrown in the company of many who were young and little accustomed to resist evil example and seductive temptations, the innocence of our saint was exposed to new snares. But he doubled his caution against the dangers which threatened him. Prayer, avoidance of persons and occasions that might lead him astray, a wise distrust of self, and earnest application to study were the barriers behind which he sought protection. In reward for his constant care providence, which had protected Peter from the poison of heresy in the house of his parents, preserved his purity of heart in a strange land. Thence it also soon led him to a more saintly school, wherein he began to prepare for the work which God bad in store for him.
The zealous preaching of Saint Dominic, and the odor of sanctity which his first disciples diffused throughout Italy, especially among the Bolognese, offered the young student a means of salvation which he did not wish to neglect. He saw ever so many of his fellow students, and not a few of his professors, enter the new institute. He regarded it as a safe haven, where he would he sheltered from the perils of the world, and saw in it a state of life in which he would he able to labor fruitfully for the spiritual welfare of others. While, therefore, only in the sixteenth year of his age he asked Saint Dominic to receive him into his Order. The request was made with great humility, and his admittance was without delay. From that time we see him begin a life of penance, in which he ceased not to advance in virtue until his death.
The young novice had profitted in the way of perfection from Saint Dominic's example and lessons for but a few months, when the death of the man of God deprived him of that splendid guide. However, always faithful to grace, the future martyr did not cease to direct himself by the holy founder's principles, persuaded as he was that he still had the saint present in the spirit of his institute; and that, in order to remove every fear of going astray, he had only to follow all the points of the rule with exactness.
Little content to walk in the footsteps of even the more fervent, he strove to surpass them in the practice of observance. The abstinence, fasting, vigils, and other means of mortification in use at Saint Nicholas' Priory would have satisfied him, had he consulted merely his bodily strength. But he sought to regulate himself by the ardor of his soul. Accordingly, to the austerities common in the convent he added others of his own, and carried them so far that his health gave way. No one doubted, for it was plain to all, that the zealous novice's pious excesses brought on his illness. However, God, who wished to he glorified by the labors of his faithful servant, soon restored his health. His profession followed shortly afterwards.
Peter now wisely reflected on the artifices of the evil spirit, and learned to fear them. He realized that, in order to prevent a greater good, and to produce an illusion in the minds of pious souls, satan sometimes inspires them to undertake excessive mortifications, which are not pleasing to God, once they are not directed by obedience, or regulated by discretion. For this reason, he became more moderate in his practice of austerity, and took saner measures to keep the flesh in subjection without injury to his health. But what he considered moderate, or even tame-spirited, might well he thought extremely severe by others. However, grace and interior consolation, vouchsafed him in prayer, made seem sweet and easy to him whatever served to bring the body under the control of the mind, and to elevate the soul to a knowledge of God's perfection.
Thus enjoying the liberty of the children of Christ, our young novice gave himself to earnest study of divine wisdom and contemplation on the Sacred Scriptures. Among the community at Saint Nicholas' were many noted doctors who had shone as professors in the University of Bologna. These had become disciples of Saint Dominic that they might learn from him the secret of combining sanctity with learning, and of making the one serve the other for the conversion of souls. After their religious profession, some of these gave themselves to the work of the pulpit for the instruction of the people, the refutation of heresy, and the recall of sinners from their ways of evil. Others, sanctifying their labors by the merit of obedience, remained in the retreat of the cloister. These taught their younger brethren. In thus forming future theologians and future preachers they had their part, by anticipation, in the triumphs which their pupils were one day to gain over the enemies of faith and piety.
None knew better than Peter of Verona how to take advantage of the opportunities thus afforded him. Removed from the scandal and tumult of the world, he enjoyed in the peace and quiet of his cloistral retreat all the facilities for learning which one could find in the greatest universities. Sustained by the example of many illustrious confrères who, like himself, aspired to the heights of perfection, our Saint, without interrupting his practice of virtue and mortification, stored his mind day by day with knowledge. He made rapid progress especially in the science of the saints.
Such were the environment and the disposition in which the future martyr finished his studies, and was raised to the priesthood. Charity, modesty, zeal for the salvation of souls, together with an angelic purity, were not less distinguishing traits of the young priest than the extensive knowledge which he bad acquired, and which he derived more from prayer than from books. Accordingly, he was at once adjudged capable of fulfilling his vocation in all its amplitude -- that is to say, to instruct the faithful, to combat every kind of heresy, and successfully to defend the Church, whose beauty was marred by much moral corruption in its members, and whose teaching was opposed by any number of sectarians.
We presuppose the reader conversant with the history of Saint Dominic, and through it acquainted with the demoralizing opinions and impious teaching of the Albigenses. Thus this brief sketch of Saint Peter Martyr does not call for any detailed account of the errors he bad to combat in his controversies with the heretics of Italy. Both these saints had to contend against practically the same errors.(5) It is quite probable that the moral and religious leprosy which infected France in the twelfth century passed from there into Flanders, thence gradually into Germany, and finally made its way into Italy, thanks to the troops of Frederic I and the stubborn schism which the politics of that emperor fostered against Pope Alexander III.(6)
The cities of the Ecclesiastical States could not he preserved from being tainted by the contagion which the Catharists, or new Manichaeans, spread everywhere. In 1207, Innocent III drove them from Viterbo, and fulminated censures against all who received, abetted, or followed them. The fourth Lateran council issued new decrees requiring that the corrupters of the faith should he searched out and severely punished. Frederic II also promulgated several imperial edicts on the same subject.(7) In that of February 22, 1224, he says:
Those who are condemned by the Church, in whatever place it may be, and are brought before the civil power for judgment, shall he punished as they deserve. Those who are arrested, and, moved by the fear of death, wish to return to the Catholic Church, shall he perpetually imprisoned that they may do penance. The judges shall he obliged to take and closely guard all who are adjudged heretics by inquisitors deputed by the Holy See, or by other persons zealous for the Catholic faith. If they are formally condemned by the Church for this crime, then they shall he put to death. Abetters of heretics shall he punished in the same way, unless they cease to protect them after having received due notification. Those who, having been convicted of heresy in one place, move to another, in order the more safely to spread their errors, shall he punished in accordance with their deserts.
We also condemn to death those who, having once abjured their heresy in order to save their life, falsify their oath by returning to their error. We deprive heretics, their harborers, and their abetters of all right of appeal; and Our will is that heresy he completely banished throughout Our Empire. And since this crime, because it attacks God Himself, is greater than that of lèse majesté, We ordain that the children of heretics, to the second generation, shall he deprived of all temporal benefices and all public offices, unless they inform against their parents. Moreover, We declare the Friars Preacher and Friars Minor, deputed in Our Empire to look after matters of faith, are under Our special protection.
But neither the thunders of the Church nor the severity of the imperial laws succeeded in lessening the number or the malice of the Manicheans. Sometimes, intimidated by fear of punishment, they propagated their errors more secretly. When a misunderstanding arose between the powers that could chastise them, they threw off their restraint and joined hands with other enemies of the Holy See in order to attack the dogmas of faith with greater liberty. Oftentimes they themselves gave rise to such estrangements, or helped to keep them alive. They were bad citizens, worse subjects, declared enemies of religion, and hidden foes of the civil power. Thus the rulers, the country, and the Church were equally interested in suppressing their restlessness; for they all had equal reason to fear their violence. This had been experienced on more than one occasion.
Indeed, Manicheanism was an outstanding evil for which all were seeking an efficacious remedy, when providence brought Peter of Verona out of his retreat to combat the designs of the heretics, and to arrest the progress of their errors.(8) He possessed splendid talent for instructing the people, and for convincing them of the truths which he preached. More admirable still was his gift of touching hearts and inspiring even the most obdurate with salutary fear. It was this that led his superiors to send him through Italy as an apostolic man. Christ's Vicar did not wish to place any limit to his activity.
The Bolognese were the first to receive the fruit of 'his preaching. Then he proclaimed the word of God with the same success through all Romagna, Marca d'Ancona, Tuscany, the Milanese territory, and in nearly all the provinces of Italy. Everywhere his labors brought about striking conversions. Persons who had long been public enemies mutually forgave the injuries they had received. Noted sinners gave up their ways of evil. Many heretics abjured their errors, and were received into the fold of the Church; but we do not know whether the parents of the saintly Friar Preacher were among these.(9) Twenty years had not passed since one of his uncles bad foretold what was now being actually accomplished.
The missioner was an enemy of everything that is against the law of God, of everything that defiled the religion of Christ. Especially did he declare war against the Manicheans, whom he combatted until the last breath of his life. Well did he expose their excesses and their ungodliness. The numbers whom he induced to forswear the perverse doctrines of the Catharists were so great that it was not doubted but that God had chosen him particularly for the destruction of this unhappy sect, at once the most absurd and the most stubborn of all. In fact, the obstinacy of those who gloried in following its teachings, determined to uphold them by all means, exposed it to great danger. To them the death of a Catholic priest seemed a sacrifice of which, they might proudly boast before men, and for which they believed they could expect a reward from God.
Our saint was not ignorant of either their sentiments or their conviction. He also knew well to what excesses their blind fury might easily lead them. But what might have intimidated others only encouraged him. Filled with the spirit which animated the apostles, he deemed himself happy in being able, after their example, to suffer for Christ. Never did he offer up the blood of our Redeemer on the altar without feeling a desire to shed his own for the faith. This, in fact, was a favor which he asked with the greatest fervor in his prayers and sacrifices.(10)
It was through such holy desires that our Lord prepared Peter of Verona for the crown He had in store for him. Yet He wished first to subject him to trials which seemed temporarily to obscure his virtue; although, in the end, they served to make it shine with all the greater brilliancy. One such instance was as follows:
Heaven granted him such a favor while he was preaching in the City of Como, in the Duchy of Milan, which his humility and charity caused him to keep a strict secret for a long time, although it led to an accusation against him. A number of people of the city sought to speak with him, whether to make their confession, to get his advice, or to find consolation in their troubles. Among them were several women. Female voices heard in the vicinity of his room led some of his confrères to believe that he had admitted them into his cell, and they made such a charge against him to his superiors. Under the circumstances, the accusation seemed true.
A word from the accused would have completely exonerated him. But that word would have deprived him of the spiritual advantage of seeing himself humiliated without having merited it. The saintly religious, as chaste as he was humble, could not accuse himself of doing what he had not done, nor make his innocence known without losing the merit of his obedience. Possibly too, were the truth made known, it would cause trouble for those who had been too quick to accuse him. He therefore resolved to imitate the silence of Christ, and to leave it to God to justify him in His own good time.
Peter's superior took this silence as a confession of his fault. So, not doubting that he had committed a grave indiscretion, he forbade him to exercise the office of preaching. The future martyr was then sent to the convent at Jesi, a little city in Marca d'Ancona, situated on a mountain near the Esino River. Faithful servant of God that he was, he obeyed without a word of complaint. Although covered with confusion before men, he went with joy to the place of his retirement, firmly resolved to suffer and to remain silent until the end.(11)
The maxims of the saints, it must he admitted, have little in common with those of the worldly wise. Even among those who profess to fear and serve God it would he hard to find any who would carry so far their forgetfulness of self and abandonment to providence. Many reasons indeed would suggest themselves to our minds f or persuading us that, when there is question of the reputation of an innocent man, a priest, and a celebrated preacher who is so valuable to the Church, nothing could be more out of place than a silence which permits injurious scandal to remain; that, while humility and patience are necessary, their practice, like that of every other virtue, has its limits; that, in certain cases, the justification which one owes to one's self is of strict obligation; and that true piety can reconcile every duty.
Peter of Verona knew well these truths. Yet, without fear of tempting God, whose judgment he adored, he wanted no manifestation of his innocence other than that which should come from the divine goodness.(12) Employing the leisure of his retirement to advantage, he applied himself with renewed fervor to the practice of prayer, mortification, charity and humility in the service of his brethren, particularly the sick. Never did he seek consolation, except at the foot of the cross and in meditation on the Sacred Scriptures. In order to stifle his natural feelings (that is, the involuntary protest of nature), he recalled to mind the opprobrium which Christ, who is justice itself, underwent for love of us, and that He might leave us an example to follow.
Such reflections as these, together with the special graces which God conferred upon him, gave strength and consolation to his soul. When he least expected to leave his retirement, a thing that he had loved from the time he entered the Order, the truth of his innocence became known. He was then recalled from his exile. Now there was no need to speak in his justification. His only sorrow in the matter was to see those who had suffered themselves to he deceived, or too easily prejudiced against his actions, humiliate themselves by begging his forgiveness.(13)
Restored to his former labors, after being tried in the fire of tribulation, he appeared to he even better prepared than before to preach the truths of the Gospel. Indeed, God rendered him powerful in action and word against the enemies of His Church. Gregory IX appointed him Inquisitor General of the Faith.(14) In this office, with the assistance of heaven, he attacked vice and error with marvellous effect. At Rome, Florence, Milan, Bologna, and in other cities of Lombardy he accomplished wonders. The reliable Father Thomas Agni tells us in his life of the saint that the conversions he made were almost without number.(15)
After his sermon it was his custom to bear confessions, or to hold a meeting -- sometimes with those of the faith who wished to consult him about their troubles and doubts; sometimes with heretics who, touched by the sermon, desired fuller instructions in order to give up heir errors. These last the man of God always received with great charity, and listened to them with patience; for he loved to convince their minds and to make them see the truths which they would have to admit before they could he reconciled with the Church. It is thought that the celebrated Ranieri Sacconi of Piacenza was one of the many whom he converted from the heresy, of which he afterwards became a scourge and hammer.(16)
The Manicheans became so numerous in Florence that there was strong reason to fear lest the entire city should soon become infected with the poison of their errors. Neither the zeal of the pastors nor the ordinary methods of the inquisition could arrest their growth. Then it was that, at the request of the Sovereign Pontiff (and doubtless with the consent of the city magistrates, whose authority the rebels despised), Peter of Verona induced a number of Florentine nobles to take up arms in behalf of their religion and their country. He gave them a standard on which was painted a cross. His arrangements were so wisely made that in the battle which was fought in the Piazza di Santa Felicita near the Arno, the Catholics not only won the victory, but also forced the Manicheans and other sectarians to leave the city. Undefiled religious practices, peace and good order, all of which had been disturbed by the trouble makers, were once more restored to the municipality. After that, a solemn procession in honor of the event was held in Florence every year on Saint Peter's Day; and on this occasion the same standard was carried which the martyr had placed in the. hands of the faithful as a pledge of the victory God would give them.(17)
The high reputation, which the holy man's brilliant virtues and numerous miracles gave him, placed him in a position to undertake many things which even the civil powers did not dare at times to attempt, as well as enabled him happily to execute his greatest projects. For instance, September 15, 1234, while he was in the City of Milan, he caused the decree of the Pope against heretics, in accordance with the Lateran council, to he incorporated in the legal statutes of that municipality.(18)
The fame of his preaching was such that the people of the province, in which be happened to be, flocked after him so enthusiastically that often the churches were not large enough to accommodate his audience. Thus he was not infrequently obliged to preach in public places, the streets, or even the open fields. When it was known what route he should take, crowds came out from the cities and towns to see and hear him. They received him with the ringing of bells. In order to obtain his blessing, they so blocked the missioner's way that, to protect him from the pressure of the throng, it was necessary to set up a portable pulpit for him, which strong men carried on their shoulders for the purpose. It was principally the zeal of the Milanese for their saintly preacher which gave rise to this ingenious means of saving him from the danger in which they often saw him of being trampled under foot by the mob.(19)
Wherever he went, the deaf, the dumb, the blind, the lame, and people sick with every kind of ailment were brought to him. Ordinarily all were benefitted by his prayers. They praised God for the power of healing which He had given His servant.(20) However, it was through the conversions he affected that the divine glory was principally magnified; f or it was in hearts that Peter wrought his greatest miracles.
Two laborers lived in the Duchy of Milan, one of whom was a devout Catholic, the other an obstinate Manichean. Their fields, which adjoined, were cultivated with the same care, but in quite different states of mind. When the Catholic seeded his land, he recommended his labor to God, and awaited the success of his efforts from the blessing of heaven. The Manichean, on the contrary, offered his toil to satan, whom he believed to he the creator of all things material. When our saintly Friar Preacher learned of this act of impiety, he severely reprehended the deluded man, and predicted that, in punishment for his crime, his field would prove absolutely unproductive, while that of his neighbor would yield a rich harvest. "I promise you," replied the Manichean, "that, if things happen as you foretell, I will relinquish my sect and embrace the religion which you preach. But, if they turn out otherwise, kindly leave me alone in the belief which I have always entertained." The saint's prediction was literally fulfilled, with the result that the Manichean laborer kept his word by entering the Church.(21)
Such conversions were specially treasured by Peter of Verona. He considered them the best fruit of his labors, as well is a recompense the most conducive to
sustain his zeal in the wear and tear of his endless ministry. It was always with reluctance that he acted with rigor against the obstinate. Never, in fact, did he resort to harsh measures until he bad exhausted all mild means suggested by kindness and Christian charity. Even then he was severe with the sole view of preventing the guilty from doing further evil, after he had failed to lead them to do good.
The incident which we have now to relate is not less a proof of our saint's prudence than of the gift of miracles with which God endowed him. A devotee of the heretical band in Milan longed to bring discredit upon Peter of Verona and the wonders attributed to him. For this purpose, though in perfect health, the cheat feigned sickness, and had himself carried before the noted preacher. A number of Manicheans, who had been made acquainted with the scheme, followed that they might bear witness to the saint's undoing. Arrived at their destination the rogue said in all apparent humility: "Man of God, if you can do anything with the Creator of heaven and earth, I beg of you to deliver me through your prayers from my torturing pains." "Yes," replied Peter, "I pray Him who created and sees all things that, if your sickness is not real, He may treat you as you deserve."
His words were effectual. In a moment the man who bad counterfeited illness began to feel excruciating pains in every part of his body. His companions, in deceit hurriedly took him home, where lie spent several days in great suffering. Not only were the doctors ignorant of its cause; their remedies seemed only to increase the pain. Finally, as he grew steadily worse, the poor fellow realized that God was punishing him for his deception, sent for Peter, contritely confessed his treachery, and abjured his heresy. Our saint, assured of the sincerity of his repentance, instructed him in the truths of the Catholic faith, made the sign of the cross over him, and restored strength to his body, just as he had given him health of soul. (22)
Among other miracles used by providence for the conversion of many and the triumph of the faith was the following, which is different in kind from the one recorded above, but not less Marvellous. Our holy inquisitor, being again in Milan, had brought before him a noted Manichean whom those of that sect honored as their bishop and regarded as their leading teacher. Peter of Verona decided to examine this man in a piazza or open square of the city before several Catholic prelates, many religious and other ecclesiastics, and a great number of people. His purpose in this was that even the most obstinate defenders of Manicheanism might he disposed to renounce their errors, when they saw them refuted in public, while their principal leader was reduced to silence by the sheer force of truth.
The examination was long, and the great heat of the sun was extremely uncomfortable for the throng gathered to witness it. Either to hide his confusion by diverting the attention of the spectators, or acting under the impulse of his keen chagrin, the mortified Manichean suddenly exclaimed: "Wicked impostor, if you are as saintly as these deluded people think you are, why do you leave them to die of this awful heat? Why do you not ask your God to send us a cloud to protect us from the scorching rays of the sun that are burning us up?" "I will do so, " replied the saint without hesitation, "if you promise me to relinquish your heresy, when you see my prayer granted."(23)
Then were heard on all sides the jumbled voices of the opposing parties in the controversy. The Manicheans called lustily to their pretended bishop to accept the proposition; for, as the sky was perfectly clear, they felt he could run no hazard. Indeed, they promised themselves a splendid victory over the defenders of the Church. The Catholics, on the contrary (or at least the greater number, who had not the abiding confidence of the sturdy athlete of the faith), urged him to continue his over-powering refutation of the heretic by the authority of the Scriptures, and to oppose no new miracles to the incredulity of the blasphemers.
At this juncture, however, the man of God closed the debate. Full of that humble faith to which our Lord has promised nothing shall he denied, he exclaimed: "That you may all know, and with one voice confess, that the omnipotent God, whom we adore, is not less the Creator of things visible and corporal than of things invisible and spiritual, I pray Him, in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, to send a cloud to protect us from the burning rays of the sun." While concluding his prayer, Peter made the sign of the cross. The fears of the faithful were at once set at rest, while the futile hopes of their opponents vanished; for at the same moment both alike found themselves under the protection of a refreshing cloud which did not disappear until the examination came to an end.(24)
If the evidence of miracles could change hearts, several thousand Manicheans, who witnessed this marvellous incident, would have been brought to acknowledge the truth which they bad long contumaciously opposed. What happened at this time was precisely what often happened, when the apostles preached the Gospel of Christ to the gentiles, confirming its truth by striking miracles. As many as were preordained to eternal life believed (Crediderunt quotquot erant praeordinati ad vitam aeternam).(25) The others went away amazed, but not converted. Nevertheless, those who belonged to the Church profitted by the event; for they were strengthened in their confession of the Catholic faith, led to better their lives, and inspired to quicken their sentiments of Christian piety.
It was not only by repeated and continual preaching that Peter of Verona labored for the defense of religion and the refutation of heresy. His prayers, his penances, and the example of Christian charity that he gave at all times were even more efficacious means to these ends. Others were the wise regulations which he made and the ordinances which he issued with regard to the various sects -- the Catharists, the Puritani, the Waldenses, the Passaggini, the Speronisti, and other kindred heretics, who then infested many provinces of Italy. The inquisitors of the faith who followed our martyr in that office made liberal use of his rules, which are given by Bernadine Corio, the historian of Milan.
Obedience obliged the subject of our narrative to hold the office of prior in several houses of his Order -- in Como, Piacenza, Genoa, and other places. In this position he was ever careful to see that his confrères were exact in their conventual observances and cultivated the habit of study, particularly that of the Holy Scriptures; for he well knew that without this twofold aid they could expect but little fruit from the ministry of the divine word. Piety is necessary for every religious. Learning is scarcely less dispensable in a Friar Preacher -- especially at a time when, and among a people with whom, heretics use knowledge to seduce the simple, or even often to prejudice the faithful themselves against truths that are of divine faith, and therefore must be believed.
Peter of Verona, and with reason, was considered a learned doctor. Yet he ever continued to store his mind with new knowledge, whether through prayer, meditation, or reading the Sacred Writings. The example which he set his religious brethren showed them by what means they could perfect themselves in their state of life, and make themselves useful to the Church. Never did his degree of Master in Sacred Theology cause him to neglect study. Study never prevented him from being the first at all the regular exercises. Well did he know how to combine the practices of the cloister with the labors of the apostolic life.
Such was the character of our Friar Preacher; such, too, the reputation he enjoyed, when, in 1243, Cardinal Sinibaldo de' Fieschi ascended the papal throne under the name of Innocent IV. One of the first cares of the new Pontiff was to strengthen the courage and to increase, if that were possible, the zeal of those who, already devoted heart and soul to the service of the Church, were fighting the battles of the faith. First of all, he confirmed, even increased, the powers which his predecessor had conferred on our saint. Furthermore, he honored him with several commissions, which
were added proofs of the confidence the Holy Father reposed in him, as well as of the great regard he had for his worth.
The Servite Fathers had just begun the establishment of their order in Tuscany. Innocent IV, doubtful whether, under the circumstances, it were better to confirm the new institute, or to suppress it at the start, decided to avail himself of the wisdom of Peter of Verona in the matter. Accordingly, the Pontiff sent him to Florence with instructions carefully to examine into the origin, spirit, and rule of the proposed order, investigate the life, habits, and teaching of those who had entered it, and learn the end at which they aimed. Archangelo Gianni, the annalist of the Servites, gives us several sources of influence that might have tended to prejudice the mind of the Holy Father against the project of their founders. 1o. Reports, either false or but little favorable, that were carried to Rome. 2o. The decree of the fourth Lateran council forbidding the establishment of new religious orders. 3o. The sad state of Italy, which had been brought about by factions, civil wars, and a great number of sects noted for their hypocrisy and impiety.(26)
The scourges of Italy to which Gianni refers had long prevailed in the peninsula. They seem to have reached their climax during the protracted vacancy of the Holy See between the death of the Ninth Gregory and the election of the Fourth Innocent.(27) It was a time so critical that everything was open to suspicion and gave cause for fear. Perverse men not infrequently put on the outward appearance of piety that they might the better conceal the poison of their heresy, and spread their errors with less danger to themselves or their fortunes. Wisdom demanded that the Supreme Pastor should know thoroughly the spirit of a budding order, whose approbation was sought by some, but which others represented to him as less calculated to build up than to tear down. Thus, that he might form a correct judgment and act prudently in the case of the Servites, Innocent sent our saint to Tuscany; for he felt that in giving his decision he could with perfect safety follow the report of a man whose justice and sagacity he knew so well.
That he might the better fulfill the trust reposed in him by the Holy Father, and worthily carry out his commission, Peter first consulted the archbishop of
Florence on the affair. Then he himself investigated everything in accordance with the intention and instructions of the Pope. On the one band, the saint realized the danger of recommending what might prove prejudicial to the peace of the Church; on the other, he saw the risk he ran of sacrificing the welfare of innocent men to the malice of calumniators. This caused his diligence in the matter to he all the greater, as well as made his care the more scrupulous.
A careful examination of the principles of the Servite Fathers and of the life they proposed to lead convinced him both of the purity of their intentions and of their solid piety. He saw with joy that the new institute contemplated by these holy men was guided by the spirit which ordinarily inspires founders of religious orders; that it could not fail to edify the faithful; and that it was highly calculated to increase the
Veneration due the Queen of Heaven. His statement was so faithful and commendatory that it not only refuted all false reports, but also removed all doubt and prejudice from the mind of Innocent. Thus it assured the Servites of the protection of the Pope as well as of the good graces of the Holy See. Indeed, the confirmation of their order followed closely on the account given by our saint.(28)
Doubtless Peter's own tender devotion to the Mother of God made this confirmation all the more gratifying to him; for it always led him to befriend those specially consecrated to her. In private conversation, just as in his sermons, he stimulated the faithful with his personal sentiments of love for the Blessed Virgin. Because of
his influence in their favor the Servites have ever regarded Peter of Verona in the light of a second founder of their order. After his canonization, they placed him on the list of their holy patrons and protectors. Only because of lack of space do we refrain from giving, in substance at least, what Glanni, by way of gratitude towards his order's benefactor, writes in this connection. Suffice it to say that the annalist extols the Friar Preacher's heroic virtue, and records many special favors that Peter received from heaven through his prayers.
Frederic II, who had often been a thorn in the side of the Church, died on December 3, 1250. On June 13, 1251, the Pope addressed a brief to Peter of Verona and his confrère, Vivian of Bergamo, in which he says:
God having delivered the Church from the tyranny of Frederic, formerly emperor, who disturbed the peace of various peoples and favored error, particularly in Italy, We have resolved to strengthen the Inquisition here with all the more care, because the evil is nearer to Us. For this reason, We order you to Cremona, where you will convoke a diocesan council, and exert yourselves heart and soul for the effectual extirpation of heresy. Against those whom you find tainted with heresy, or accused of it, you will proceed in accordance with the ecclesiastical laws, unless they submit themselves absolutely to the requirements of the Church. If necessary, vou Will invoke the assistance of the secular power. Should any wish to forswear their heresy, you will absolve them, after having consulted the diocesan bishop; but you must always take the necessary precautions to assure yourselves of the sincerity of their conversion.
Above all things do We desire to see this business forwarded. You will therefore proclaim publicly and resolutely that, if any city or community, any nobles or other powerful persons, seek to obstruct Our efforts in the matter, We will avail Ourself of the sword of the Church against them. Nay, We will appeal to that of kings, princes, and crusaders, in order that heaven and earth may act together in punishing their atrocious rashness; for it is more essential to defend the faith near home than in distant lands.(29)
From the time our holy Friar Preacher became a champion of the faith against those who strove to tarnish or corrupt its purity, his zeal had never slackened. His controversies with heretics were frequent, almost constant; his watchfulness ever the same. For more than twenty years he bad not ceased to instruct and exhort the people, either to hold them in the obedience due to the Holy See, or to bring back into the fold those who had unfortunately broken their fealty. Yet it would seem that the positive orders of Innocent gave him, as it were, a new impulse, and filled him with a still greater desire to sacrifice himself in behalf of the Church.
In concert with the bishop of Cremona, he took the wisest measures to free the country from the poison of heresy. A diocesan synod was assembled, in order that, after mature deliberation, in which all should take part, the pastors and other clergy might act in the same spirit and with greater success. The zealous inquisitor never laid aside the gentleness of the Gospel. But, when it became necessary, he did not hesitate to use the authority with which he was vested in order to uproot the cockle from the Lord's estate, or at least to prevent it from choking the good grain.
Through repeated miracles and the gift of prophesy, with which He endowed him, God continued to make known the sanctity of His servant. All this served to strengthen his mission, and to weaken the redoubtable party into which the heretics had formed themselves. What through some being convinced of their errors, and what through dissimulation or fear of punishment in others, numbers came day by day publicly to abjure their heresy and to he admitted into communion with the faithful.
But it was not the same with the leaders of the Manicheans. Their ministers made new efforts to sustain themselves. To the miracles of our saint these disciples and imitators of Simon, the magician, opposed the magic spells of satan, to whom they rendered a sacrilegious cult as the first principle and creator of all visible and material things. They sought in various ways to prevent the desertion of their followers. Sometimes they simulated false revelations; at others they strove to strengthen the wavering against the fear of the judgment of God and man either by chimerical predictions, or by pretended oracles full of trickery and prevarication. Often did the Friar Preacher dispel the impositions of these deceivers, and make their long-abused adherents clearly see the vanity and malice of their artifices.(30)
The last resort of the leaders of the Manicheans was carefully to avoid Peter of Verona, to no longer listen to his sermons, and, in so far as they could, to prevent their followers from seeing or hearing him in any way. Thus, while Catholics, drawn even more by the fragrance of his virtues than by the renown of his miracles continued to flock in crowds to the places where he preached, the Manichean leaders stopped their ears that they might not hear him. Indeed, they often made it a sort of religious duty to shut themselves indoors while they knew that he was in their neighborhood; for they feared lest they should he obliged to yield to the light which would reveal to them that which they were determined not to acknowledge.
An incident of this kind happened in a little village called La Gatta, or Delle Gatte, near Bergamo. The heretics were so numerous there that nearly every family either declared itself in their favor, or did not dare to make open profession of the Catholic faith. Saint Peter visited this place, and invited the people either to hear him preach or to hold a conference with him. He promised them perfect liberty not only to defend their teaching, but also to retain their religion, should he fail to show them clearly that it was erroneous. His kindly entreaty, his advice, and his prayers were of no avail. They all steadfastly persisted in their refusal either to enter into a discussion with him or to listen to his sermons.(31)
Judicious man that he was, however much he deplored the blindness of these people, Peter showed them no harshness. However, he threatened them with a catastrophe that was not long delayed; for, acting under divine inspiration, he predicted the approaching destruction of that little Babylon in the words of the Prophet Jonas: "Yet forty days, and Ninive shall he destroyed." A few years later, when the sins of La Gatta's inhabitants had reached their measure, the asylum of wickedness was laid waste to its very foundations.(32) Thomas Agni, the contemporary writer mentioned before, speaks of this prediction, of whose fulfillment he was an eye-witness. Agni also assures us that the same misfortune befell different places, after similar predictions of our missioner, but he does not give their names.(33)
The hatred and frenzy of the Manicheans increased as they grew more and more obstinate. They knew well that, unless they gave up their ungodliness, they could hope for no understanding with him whom they looked upon as the scourge and destruction of their sect. Accordingly, they conspired to kill him. The principals in the infamous plot were Stephen Confalonieri, Manfred Critoro of Giussano, a little village between Milan and Como, Guido Sacchella, and James della Chiusa. The price they agreed to pay the assassins was forty Milanese lire, which were placed in the hands of Thomas of Giussano. For the execution of their sacrilegious crime they chose Peter Balsamone, commonly called Carino; and this man selected Albertino Porro for his assistant.(34)
The designs of the conspirators were not unknown to Christ's servant. Possibly he learned from some of his friends a part of what had been plotted against him. But the circumstances of his martyrdom and its minute consequences, of which he spoke several times in public, he could have known only from on high. True soldier of the Church that he was, he took no wary precautions against the snares they had determined to lay for him. On the contrary, placing his trust in God alone, he continued his preaching and his apostolic journeys with the same intrepidity that had characterized his whole life. He felt he could not prepare for death in a better way than by laboring to his last breath for the glory of his Divine Master, the defense of the faith, and the salvation of those who thirsted for his life.(35)
While preaching at Cesena, in the Province of Romagna, where he performed a number of miracles as well as made many conversions, he told his audiences that they would not see him again, for he would he assassinated by the heretics after the feasts of Easter.(36) Thence he went to Milan. There also, in a sermon which he preached to some ten thousand people on Palm Sunday, March 24, 1252, he exclaimed: "I know for certain that the Manicheans have plotted my death, and have deposited money for that purpose. Let them do what they will. I will accomplish more against them then than I have done during my lifetime." (Agant quid velint, plusquam vivus fecerim, mortuus faciam contra eos).(37)
From Milan the man of God went to Como, where he was prior. The conspirators let the Easter festivals pass. On the Saturday within the octave of Easter, April 6, 1252, Peter of Verona left his convent before daybreak to return to Milan on foot. Exhausted by his long fasts, and weak from the quartan fever, he was obliged to walk slowly. Carino, who had remained in Como for three days, on learning of the saint's departure, followed in eager pursuit. On the way he was joined by Porro, his associate in crime, who was lying in wait. The Friar Preacher had made about half of his journey, when he was overtaken in a thick woods, near a place called Barlasina.(38)
Carino first struck the saint with a pruning knife, or some other sharp instrument, which opened his head with a large and deep wound. The missionary made no movement or effort to avoid the stroke. While the wounded man was commending himself to God and reciting the Apostles' Creed, the homicide threw himself on Father Dominic, the martyr's companion, and gave him several blows, from which he died a few days afterwards. Then, seeing that Peter of Verona, though no longer able to speak, was, through the sheer force of his will, using his finger to write the first words of the Creed in his own blood, Carino sank a dagger into his breast.(39)
So died in defense of the Church the great Peter Martyr, a most faithful follower of our Lord as well as a man of profound learning. He was then in the forty-seventh year of his age. Thirty-one of these he had worn the habit of Saint Dominic, walked in his footsteps, and imitated his virtues. Both these saints seem to have been filled with a desire for martyrdom. Dominic had a martyr's merit. The crown itself fell on Peter of Verona.
As he had foretold, our martyr's remains were first taken to the Abbey of Saint Simplician, in the suburbs of Milan. The next day the archbishop (the Most Rev. Leo di Perego, O. S. F.), accompanied by all the clergy of the city, both secular and regular, and followed by a multitude of the faithful, bad them carried to the Church of San Eustorgio for solemn interment in the midst of the saint's confrères, the Friars Preacher .(40) It was a sad occasion for Milan and the Order of Preachers, yet one from which both the city and that religious institute have received no small measure of glory.
Carino, the murderer, was arrested shortly afterwards and put in prison. But he soon escaped, and fled to Forli, near Mount Appennino. The unfaithful magistrate in charge of the prisoner, being brought before the tribunal of the archbishop, was removed from office. Carino, however, finally became horrified by his crime, but fortunately did not fall into despair. Later he abjured his heresy in the bands of a Dominican Father. Nor was this all. The same priest received the poor man into his Order, and gave him the habit of a lay brother, that he might he placed in a better position to make atonement for his awful deed. Thence until his death the converted criminal practised such heroic penance and mortification that he is thought to have died in the odor of sanctity.(41)
Carino was not the only person, nor perhaps the first one, whose conversion verified the prophecy of Saint Peter Martyr. The éclat of the miracles immediately produced at his tomb in Saint Eustorgio's, together with his intercession before the throne of divine mercy, gave good reason for saying that, like another Samson, he vanquished more Philistines in death than lie had overcome during the whole course of his life. However, there is this difference that the Israelite destroyed those who had been the cause, or occasion, of his own death; while the blessed martyr of Verona procured the conversion of many who had been his enemies only because the light of faith had not yet shone in their minds.
In this connection, Father Thomas Agni, who records what passed under his personal observation, relates several interesting facts. Before the missionary's death, he says, the Manicheans were so numerous in the City of Milan and its environs that they displayed great haughtiness everywhere. Immediately after his martyrdom they were so subdued that no one in those parts dared to admit that he was a Manichean. Some of the sect were driven from their homes in shame and pursued by Catholics who before trembled in their presence. Great numbers publicly relinquished their heresy. Many of their leaders gave most unequivocal signs of sincere conversion; for, not content to remain among the ordinary faithful, they joined the Friars Preacher, and led edifying lives. Several of these became noted defenders of the faith. They were all the better prepared to oppose Manicheanism because they had been drilled in its errors, as well as in the artifices which its adherents employed to dazzle and seduce the people.(42)
This is precisely what was foretold by Peter of Verona. The fact confirms his prophetic vision. Doubtless the conversion of so many Manicheans was in answer to his prayers. Their overthrow was the triumph of the faith and the destruction of one of the most abhorrent heresies.
James della Chiusa, one of the conspirators against the life of our saint, was wont to boast that he had offered a thousand lire for the assassination of Ranieri Sacconi of Piacenza, who was then inquisitor at Pavia.(43) But after the martyrdom of Peter of Verona the wicked man quit his bragging. He was not fortunate enough to follow the example of those who embraced the faith and entered the Church. Intent only on escaping the justice of man, he banished himself from the country of his own accord, and went to spend the rest of his unhappy life in obscurity.
Lest impunity should render crime still bolder in the future, Innocent IV issued strict orders that a careful search should he made for all who were guilty in the matter of the murder. At the same time he addressed a letter apostolic to the general chapter of the Friars Preacher, which had been called to meet at Bologna in the month of May, 1252. In this document His Holiness highly praises the zeal, courage, keen faith, and other virtues of the new martyr, together with the piety and goodness of Father Dominic who bad drunk of the same chalice.
The Pope then proceeds to exhort the members of the Order to continue with the same earnestness in their opposition to heresy and the powers of darkness. He reminds them that their very state of life pledges them to the defense of the faith. He tells them that, instead of being sorry for those who have already fallen glorious victims in the combat, they should desire nothing more earnestly than to gain the crown of martyrdom as they have done, and to procure the triumph of the Church by sealing with their blood the truths which they preached.(44)
These paternal exhortations were soon followed by another action of the Vicar of Christ which was still more calculated to console the Order of Saint Dominic over the loss of so great a man. Certainly it must have given the fathers a strong impulse to walk in his footsteps. The commission appointed to investigate the miracles performed by the martyr, both before and after his death, discovered a greater number than were commonly attributed to him. Accordingly, Innocent IV determined not to wait even a twelvemonth before placing his name in the catalogue of saints. The ceremony of canonization took place on March 25, 1253, in the piazza in front of the Dominican church, Perugia. Thus it was on the Feast of the Annunciation, which was a day of great devotion for our athlete of the faith, that he was raised to the honors of the altar. The Holy Father, who went to Perugia for the occasion, was surrounded by the papal court and a throng of prelates.(45)
The bull of canonization was sent at once to all bishops and ecclesiastical superiors, with an order that the feast of Peter of Verona should he celebrated every year on April 29. This day was chosen for the celebration because that of his martyrdom, April 6, often falls in Holy Week, or within the octave of Easter. Alexander IV and several of his successors prescribed that the feast should he of the same obligation as that of Saint Dominic. Finally, Clement X, by a papal decree, ordered that the feast of Saint Peter Martyr should have the rank of a duplex for the whole Church. This was in 1670, and the practice is in use today, wherever the Roman breviary is recited.(46)
However, veneration of Peter of Verona is especially noteworthy in the Order of Friars Preacher and in that of the Servites. It is particularly the case in Italy, the land of his birth, the field of his labors, and the place of his holy death. There many are the churches, chapels, and confraternities erected in his honor.
Paul Morigia, in his Santuario di Milano, tells us of a church which was built at Barlasina itself, and consecrated to God in his name. Its main altar was over the spot where the saint suffered martyrdom and wrote the beginning of the Apostles' Creed in his own blood. From the same historian we learn that Saint Charles Borromeo entertained so profound a devotion for the athlete of the faith that, on one occasion at least when he visited this church, the archbishop of Milan would enter it only in his bare feet. In his book entitled De Felicitate Patavina. Angelo Portinari informs us that, in 1323, a celebrated confraternity was erected in Padua in honor of Saint Peter Martyr; and that every year a solemn procession was held on his feast day in thanksgiving for the quelling of discord in the city and the restoration of its peace through the influence of the great Friar Preacher.(47)
From facts like these we may see how long-lived, as well as how profound, was the veneration of the faithful towards Peter Martyr. The clerical element of the Spanish Inquisition early chose him as its patron saint. In 1633, at the request of the Catholic king, the Holy See revived and confirmed this devotion.(48)
The people of Italy showed a spirit of rivalry in obtaining relics of a saint who either converted them from heresy, or kept them in the profession of the faith. For instance, such remembrances of our martyr are shown at Cesena, Corno, Piacenza, Verona, Palermo (in Sicily), and other places of Italy. There are some in Prague, which are said to have been taken from Milan, in 1355, by the Emperor Charles IV, and given to the Church of Bohemia's capital. In the old Dominican church of Saint James, Paris, two fingers of the saint, still clothed with their skin, were long exposed for the devotion of the faithful.(49)
The body of the martyr is still preserved and venerated in a magnificent chapel of Saint Eustorgio, Milan.(50) Princes and noblemen of France, Germany, England, and Italy (particularly the archbishops of Milan) imitated the king and queen of Cyprus with their rich gifts for the enshrinement of the saint's relics. At each time of their various translations (1253, 1340, 1651, and 1736) many miracles were wrought. However, we shall not attempt to give a recital of these marvels here. In like manner, we refrain from an account of those contained in the bull of his canonization. Suffice it to say that the Acta Sanctorum, in the third volume for April, where they treat of our martyr, give a long list of attested wonders worked by him.(51)
We shall also content ourselves, for the sake of brevity, with merely stating that, in proportion to the number and magnitude of the evils which afflicted, the Church towards the middle of the thirteenth century, divine providence gave tangible signs of a protection commensurate with its pressing needs. It has already been said that the ungodly Manicheans dared claim the power of miracles for themselves, while they did not fear to revile those wrought in the fold of the Catholic Church. But the God of truth, who never permits falsehood and seduction to go beyond certain limits, multiplied the wonders worked by His true worshippers. Indeed, they were so numerous and of so striking a character that those who had the malice to discredit them, or the presumption to counterfeit them were reduced to confusion and silence.
Heretics and libertines were often seen to reap the penalty of their blasphemy. The faithful, under the protection of Saint Peter of Verona, obtained every kind of relief and comfort -- sometimes at his tomb, sometimes from touching his relics, and often by the mere invocation of his name. Miracles of every sort were wrought by him. Nor was there any evil or peril from which the faithful did not seek to he delivered through the power of his intercession.(52)
Possibly because of the prophecy of our martyr, in which he foretold the failure of the Manichean's harvest and the abundant yield for the good Catholic, there grew up a custom in Italy of blessing twigs or small branches from trees on his feast day and scattering them through the fields to bring a blessing on the crops. At any rate, the practice is still in use. In his Istoria Ecclesiastica di Piacenza, Pietro Maria Campi says that the custom of blessing palms and olive branches on the feast of Saint Peter Martyr commenced in that city; that from there it soon spread through all Italy; and that it later became the practice in many parts of the Catholic world.(53)
Saint Thomas of Aquin, the Angelic Doctor, was an ardent admirer of Peter of Verona. In 1263 he visited the martyr's sepulcher. While at Saint Eustorgio's Convent, the great theologian and poet wrote the following verses in eulogy of the valiant athlete of the faith, which were afterwards engraved on a marble slab and placed near his tomb, where they may still he read:
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 Saviour 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. (54)
1. This paragraph is an addition by the editor for the sake of the American reader.
2. These manuscripts were still in the places indicated by Father Touron when he wrote his work. At the time of the confiscation of the houses of the religious orders by the Italian government, in after years, they may have been transferred to other centers. (Ed. note).
3. Father Touron always gives his references on the side margin. At the side of these two paragraphs, which are one in the original, he notes ALBERTI, Leander, O.P., and he likely read Alberti's Istoria di Bologna, De Viribus Illustribus Ordinis Praedicatorum, and Descrittione di Tutta Italia; BAILLET, Adrian, Les Vies Des Saints; FLAMINIO, John Anthony, Vita Beati Petri Martyris; FLEURY, Claud, Histoire Ecclésiastique; MALVENDA, Thomas, O. P., Annalium Ordinis Prdedicatorum Centuria Prima; PIO, Michael, O. P., Delle Vite Degli Huomini Illustri del Ordine di San Domenico; VALERIO, Augustine, whose work consulted by Touron seems to have been a history of Verona.
4. Acta Sanctorum, XII (third vol. for April), 686. Father Touron used an old edition of the Acta Sanctorum, the pagination of which does not correspond with that of the volume we used (dated 1866) to verify his references. The pages and numbers for the Acta, all through this sketch, are given as they are found in Vol. XII, Paris and Rome, 1866. (Ed. note).
5. MALVENDA, Annalium Ordinis Praedicatorum Prima Centuria, Anno 1221.
6. Acta Sanctorum, XII, 687; BAILLET Les Vies Des Saints, April 29.
7. FLEURY, Histoire Ecclésiastique, XVI, 237 (Book 76, No. 35), and 558 (Book 78, No. 65). As the Fleury used for verification is not properly paginated, the number of the book (livre) and article are also given. (Ed. note).
8. On the margin at this place simply "1230" is printed. By this, we suppose, Father Touron indicates the date when Saint Peter began to devote himself entirely to apostolic work.
9. Manuscript life of Saint Peter by Thomas Agni, published in Acta Sanctorum, as above, 697. No. 9.
10. Ibid., 697, No. 8.
11. Ambrose Taegio's manuscript enlargement of Agni's life of Saint Peter, printed in Acta Sanctorum, as above, 696, No. 6.
12. Ibid., 697, No. 7.
14. This was about 1232 -- Bernadine Corio, Istoria di Milano, cited in Acta Sanctorum, 686; AGNI, as above, Ibid., 697, No. 9.
15. AGNI, as in the preceding note. Agni's words are: "Only He who counts the stars knows the number or the profit of the fruits of his labors for the salvation of souls, and to the increase of his own reward." (Quantos autem et quales fructus fecerit in salutem animarum, vel in suorum copiam meritorum, solus novit qui multitudinem stellarum numerat).
16. QUETIF-ECHARD (first name of both James), Scriptores Ordinis Praedicatorum, I, 155.
17. AGNI, as above, in Acta Sanctorum, 700, No. 22; FLEURY, op. cit., XVII, 472 (Book 83, No. XXX).
18. Acta Sanctorum, 687, No. 8, 697 No. 9; FLEURY, op. cit., XVII, 472 (Book 83, No. XXX).
19. AGNI, as above, Acta Sanctorum, 700, No. 9; BAILLET, op. cit., April 29.
20. AGNI, as in the preceding note.
21. AGNI, Acta Sanctorum, 701, No. 25.
22. AGNI, ibid., 699, No. 18.
23. AGNI, ibid., 703, No. 31.
25. Acts of the Apostles, XIII, 48.
26. Acta Sanctorum, 691, No. 24.
27. Gregory IX died on August 22, 1241, and was succeeded by Celestine IV on October 25, 1241. Celestine died sixteen days after his election. Then, because of the interference of Frederic II, the Holy See remained vacant until June 25, 1243, when Innocent IV was chosen as Pope. (Ed. note).
28. Acta Sanctorum, 691, Nos. 25, 26. There were seven founders of the Servites, all of whom have been canonized. (Ed. note).
29. Bullarium Ordinis Fratrum Praedicatorum, I, 192; FLEURY, op. cit.,XV11, 470 (Book 83, No. 30); RAYNALDI, Oderic, Annales Ecclesiastici, Anno 1251.
30. AGNI, in Acta Sanctorum, 701, Nos. 26, 27.
31. Although Peter was stern and unyielding in the defense of the faith, his kindly and whole-souled spirit is shown in more than one place in his life by Agni.
32. QUETIF-ECHARD, op. cit., 1, 154.
33. Agni's words are: "It is certain that this misfortune happened not once, nor merely in one city, but also in many places" (Quod non solum semel . . . nec in una civitate tantum, sed et in multis locis, constat esse impletum). See Acta Sanctorum, 698, No. 10.
34. AGNI, Acta Sanctorum, 688, No. 11 ff; ibid., No. 36; CORIO, Bernadine, Istoria di Milano, p., 263; FLEURY, op. cit., XVIL 478 (Book 83, No. 35).
35. AGNI, Acta Sanctorum, 703, No. 30.
36. In those days the Easter celebration was more extended than now. The Monday and Tuesday after Easter Sunday were holy days of obligation. (Ed. Note).
37. AGNI, Acta Sanctorum, 698, Nos. 13 ff, and 705, No. 35; FLEURY, op. cit., XVII, 478 (Book 83, No. 35).
38. The historians of Milan as quoted in Acta Sanctorum, pp. 688-689, Nos. 11 ff; AGNI, ibid., 705, No. 35 ff.
39. Ibid., 689, Nos. 14, 15; AGNI, ibid., 705, No. 38.
40. Ibid., 689, No. 16; AGNI, ibid., 706, No. 39.
41. Ibid., 689, Nos. 17-18.
42. AGNI, ibid., 706, No. 40.
43. AGNI, ibid., 705, No. 36.
44. Bullarium Ordinis Fratrum Praedicatorum, 1, 212.
45. Acta Sanctorum, 708, No. 45 ff ; FLEURY, op. cit., XVII, 484 ff (Book 83, No. 39).
46. Acta Sanctorum and Fleury, as in the preceding note.
47. Acta Sanctorum, 692, Nos. 28, 30. The instrument with which Saint Peter was killed is still preserved as a relic in the church at Barlasina. (Ed. note).
48. Ibid., 693, No. 34.
49. Ibid., 692-693, Nos. 31-34. The relics at Paris were likely destroyed, or removed, at the time of the French Revolution. (Ed. note).
50. Ibid., 692, No. 27.
51. See Acta Sanctorum, 698 ff.
52. See Acta Sanctorum, chapters IX, X, XI, 714 ff.
53. Ibid., 692, No. 29.
Praeco, lucerna, pugil Christi, populi, fideique,
Hic silet, hic tegitur, jacet hic mactatus inique.
Vox ovibus dulcis, gratissima lux animorum,
Et verbi gladius gladiis cecidit Catharum
Christus mirificat, populus devotus adorat,
Martyrioque fides sancturn servata decorat.
Sed Christus nova signa loqui facit, ac nova turbae
Lux datur, atque fides vulgata refulget in urbe.
The English rendition of the poem in the text is by the Right Rev. Msgr. H. T. Henry, Litt. D., of the Catholic University. (Ed. note).