ST PETER THE MARTYR
Saint Peter of Verona O.P. (1206 – April 6, 1252), also known as Saint Peter Martyr, was a 13th-century Italian Catholic priest. He was a Dominican friar and a celebrated preacher. He served as Inquisitor in Lombardy, was killed by an assassin, and was canonized 11 months after his death, making this the fastest canonization in history.
Peter was born in the city of Verona into a family perhaps sympathetic to the Cathar heresy. Peter went to a Catholic school, and later to the University of Bologna, where he is said to have maintained his orthodoxy and at the age of fifteen, met Saint Dominic. Peter joined the Order of the Friars Preachers (Dominicans) and became a celebrated preacher throughout northern and central Italy.
From the 1230s on, Peter preached against heresy, and especially Catharism, which had many adherents in thirteenth-century Northern Italy. Pope Gregory IX, appointed him General Inquisitor for northern Italy in 1234 and Peter evangelized nearly the whole of Italy, preaching in Rome, Florence, Bologna, Genoa, and Como. In 1243 he recommended the new Servite foundation to the pope for approval.
In 1251, Pope Innocent IV recognized Peter’s virtues (severity of life and doctrine, talent for preaching, and zeal for the orthodox Catholic faith), and appointed him Inquisitor in Lombardy. He spent about six months in that office and it is unclear whether he was ever involved in any trials. His one recorded act was a declaration of clemency for those confessing heresy or sympathy to heresy.
In his sermons he denounced heresy and also those Catholics who professed the Faith by words, but acted contrary to it in deeds. Crowds came to meet him and followed him; conversions were numerous, including many Cathars who returned to orthodoxy.
Because of this, a group of Milanese Cathars conspired to kill him. They hired an assassin, one Carino of Balsamo. Carino’s accomplice was Manfredo Clitoro of Giussano. On April 6, 1252, when Peter was returning from Como to Milan, the two assassins followed Peter to a lonely spot near Barlassina, and there killed him and mortally wounded his companion, a fellow friar named Dominic.
Carino struck Peter’s head with an axe and then attacked Domenico. Peter rose to his knees, and recited the first article of the Symbol of the Apostles (the Apostle’s Creed). Offering his blood as a sacrifice to God, according to legend, he dipped his fingers in it and wrote on the ground: “Credo in Unum Deum”, the first words of the Nicene Creed. The blow that killed him cut off the top of his head, but the testimony given at the inquest into his death confirms that he began reciting the Creed when he was attacked.
Dominic was carried to Meda, where he died five days afterwards.
According to Dominican tradition Peter often conversed with the saints, including the virgin-martyrs Catherine, Agnes and Cecilia.
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.
Peter was canonized by Pope Innocent IV on March 9, 1253, the fastest canonization in papal history.
St Peter the Martyr’s feast day is 6 April although his Dominican brothers celebrate it on 4 June. From 1586, when the feast day was inserted in the General Roman Calendar, to 1969, when it was removed on the grounds of the limited importance now attached to the saint internationally, the celebration was on 29 April. (6 April, his death date, was not used because it would too often conflict with the Easter Triduum.)
St. Peter the Martyr
Double – Red vestments
INTROITUS – Psalm 63: 3
Protexisti me, Deus, a convéntu malignántium, allelúia: a multitúdine operántium iniquitátem, allelúia, allelúia. Ps. 63. 2. Exáudi, Deus, oratiónem meam cum déprecor: a timóre inimíci éripe ánimam meam. Gloria Patri.
Thou last protected me, O God, from the assembly of the malignant, alleluia: from the multitude of the workers of iniquity, alleluia. alleluia. Ps. Hear, O God, my prayers, when I make supplication to Thee: deliver my soul from the fear of the enemy Glory be to the Father.
Praesta quæsumus omnípotens Deus: ut beáti Petri Mártyris tui fidem cóngrua devotióne sectémur; qui, pro ejúsdem fidei dilatatióne, martyrii palmam méruit obtinére. Per Dóminum.
Grant we beseech Thee, O almighty God, that we may honor the faith of blessed Peter, Thy martyr, with fitting devotion, as he by the spread of the same faith was found worthy to obtain the palm of martyrdom. Through our Lord.
EPISTLE – Wisdom 5: 1-5
Then shall the just stand with great constancy against those that have afflicted them and taken away their labours. These seeing it, shall be troubled with terrible fear, and shall be amazed at the suddenness of their unexpected salvation, saying within themselves, repenting, and groaning for anguish of spirit: These are they whom we had some time in derision and for a parable of reproach. We fools esteemed their life madness and their end without honour; behold how they are numbered among the children of God, and their lot is among the Saints.
ALLELUIA – Psalm 88: 6
Alleluia, alleluia. V. The heavens shall confess Thy wonders, O Lord; and Thy truth in the Church of the saints. Alleluia.
ALLELUIA – Psalm 20: 4
Alleluia. O Lord, Thou halt set on his head a crown of precious stones. Alleluia.
EVANGELIUM – John 15: 1-7
In illo témpore: Dixit Jesus discipulis Suis: Ego sum Vitis vera: etr Pater Meus agriocola est. Omnem palmitem in Me non ferentem fructum, tollet cum: et omnem, qui fert fructum, purgabit eum, ut fructum plus afferat. Jam vos mundi estis propter sermonem, quem locutus sum vobis. Manete in Me: ut Ego in vobis. Sicut palmes non potest ferre fructum a semitipso nisi manserit in vite: sic nec vos, nisi in Me maseritis. Ego sum Vitis, vos palmites: qui manet in Me, et Ego in eo, hic fert fructum multum: quia sine Me nihil postestis facere. Si quia in Me non manserit, mittetur foras sicut palmes, et arescet et colligent eum, et in ignem mittent, et ardet. Si manseritis in Me, et verba Mea in vobis manserint: qudcumque volueritis, peretis, et fiat vobis.
The continuation of the Holy Gospel according to St. John
At that time, The Lord said to His disciples: I am the true Vine; and My Father is the husbandman. Every branch in Me, that beareth not fruit, He will take away: and every one that beareth fruit, He will purge it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now you are clean by reason of the word, which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abide in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the Vine: you the branches: he that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for without Me you can do nothing. If any one abide not in Me, he shall be cast forth as a branch, and shall wither, and they shall gather him up, and case him into the fire, and be burneth. If you abide in Me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask whatever you will, and it shall be done unto you.
OFFERTORIUM – Psalm 88: 6
Confitebuntur Cœli mirabília tua, Dómine, et veritátem tuam in ecclésia sanctórum, allelúia, allelúia.
The Heavens shall confess Thy wonders, O Lord, and Thy truth in the church of the saints, alleluia, alleluia.
Preces, quas tibi, Dómine, offérimus intercedénte beáto Petro Mártyre tuo, cleménter inténde: et propugnatóres fidei sub tua protectióne custódi. Per Dominum.
Graciously give ear, O Lord, to the prayers we offer Thee, and, through the intercession of blessed Peter, Thy martyr, keep under Thy protection those who defend the Faith. Through our Lord.
PREFACE OF EASTER
It is truly meet and just, right and availing unto salvation that at all times, but more especially at this season, we should extol Thy glory, O Lord, when Christ our Pasch was sacrificed. For He is the true Lamb that hath taken away the sins of the world: Who by dying hath overcome our death, and by rising again hath restored our life. And therefore with Angels and Archangels, with Thrones and Dominations, and with all the heavenly hosts, we sing a hymn to Thy glory, saying without ceasing:
COMMUNIO – Psalm 63: 11
Laetabitur justus in Dómino, et sperábit in eo: et laudabúntur omnes recti corde, allelúia, allelúia.
The just shall rejoice in the Lord, and shall hope in Him: and all the upright in heart shall be praised, alleluia, alleluia.
Fideles tuos, Dómine, custódiant sacraménta, quæ súmpsimus: et intercedénte beáto Petro Mártyre tuo, contra omnes advérsos tueántur incúrsus. Per Dominum.
May the sacraments which we have received, keep Thy faithful, O Lord, and, by the intercession of blessed Peter, Thy martyr, guard them against all assaults of the enemy. Through our Lord.