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Saint of the Day - Saint Peter Damian (February 21)

Saint Peter Damian was an eleventh century Benedictine priest. He was a big proponent of celibacy among those consecrated to religious life including . He believed that ordered religious should live a life away from the secular world in monasteries and convents, while diocesan religious should live in the secular world. He was born around 1007 and died on either February 21 or 22 in either 1072 or 1073. He was canonized pre-congregation by popular acclaim. He was declared to be a Doctor of the Church on September 27, 1828 by Pope Leo XII. Prior to 1970, his feast was celebrated on February 23.

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He was born at Ravenna, the Papal Sates (in what is current-day Italy) around 1007. He was orphaned at an early age and placed in the care of a religious brother who treated him more as a slave than a member of the household. As soon as he was old enough, he was sent to tend the swine. That's when he caught the eye of another religious brother. This other religious brother took young Peter in. He ensured that young Peter had a good education. Young Peter took this brother's surname - Damian - as his own. He was, after his education, found to be a particularly amazing professor.

Despite all of this success, Peter wore hair shirts and practiced great penances. Peter often gave out alms. Likewise, it was not uncommon for Peter to entertain poor people at his dinner table.

At some point, Peter decided to join a religious order and leave the secular world behind. After a chance meeting with two Benedictines and hearing about the Rule of Saint Benedict, Peter chose to join the Benedictines.

Peter was chosen by the monks of his monastery to take over the governance of the monastery in the event that something happened to the Abbott. Peter was extremely reluctant to do so and, accordingly, the Abbott made it a matter of obedience with Peter. When the Abbott died in 1043, Peter became the Abbott.

In 1057, Stephen IX made Peter the Cardinal-bishop of Ostia. He constantly asked Nicholas II to relieve him of the post and allow him to return to his desert hermitage. This pope always refused. His successor, Alexander II, allowed him to resign his post with great reluctance. However, Alexander II reserved the right to utilize Peter when he needed someone to take up against issues within the Church.


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