September 10, 2008

Peter Claver

Peter Claver declared himself, "the slave of the Negroes forever." Born in Spain in 1580, Peter became a Jesuit and gave his life as a missionary to the slaves. His mentor, Alfonso de Sandoval, who wrote about the evils of the slave trade, attacking the system, devoted his life to the service of the slaves too, working forty years before Claver arrived in Columbia, to continue his work.

Peter daily visited the slaves, bringing food, medicines, and clothing to the disease-infested holds of the ships. Columbia was the clearinghouse of the slave industry, where a thousand slaves arrived each month, one-third having died on the way over. Then the slaves were shut up in cages, like animals. Peter used interpreters, pictures and actions to tell them of their human dignity and God's love. It is estimated that he baptized 300,000 slaves.

Slave merchants and the local populace did not like or give support to Peter. They felt he profaned the sacraments, thinking negroes were creatures who did not possess souls. Peter died September 8, 1654, and had two funerals, one held by the white community and the other by slaves and Indians, the outcasts.

"We must speak to them with our hands, before we try to speak to them with our lips." -Peter Claver
Post a Comment
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...