Feast Day: February 21st
Peter’s journey began in Ravenna. He was orphaned at a young age and lived with a brother who treated him more like a slave than family. Fortunately, he had another brother, Damian, who took him in and granted him a proper education. Peter was so grateful he took on Damian as his surname. Eventually, Peter became a gifted professor but left his profession to become a monk. He loved the life he led as a hermit for even at a young age he had an ascetic personality. He fasted and prayed excessively, so much that it led to insomnia which took a great difficulty to heal.
However, his isolation did not last long for others saw his gift for preaching. After the abbot died, Peter took over and went on to open 5 more hermitages. Sadly, there was a lot of corruption throughout the church during this time and he was personally chosen to remedy certain issues. Pope St. Leo IX chose him to preach against simony, clerical concubinage, and sodomy. Pope Stephen IX made him his cardinal-bishop of Ostia and apostolic admin of the diocese of Gubbio. Nicholas II sent him to Milan to end the buying and selling of clerical benefices. Alexander II sent him to dissuade the young king Henry IV from divorce. All this reforming meant he was no longer a Hermite, something he longed to return to someday. Finally, after asking to be allowed to retire many times, Pope Alexander II consented and let Peter live out his days as a monk, though he was still called to serve as a papal legate. On his way back from an assignment he succumbed to a fever and died on February 22, 1072. In 1828 he was declared a Doctor of the Church.
1. He is referenced in Dante’s Divine Comedy.
2. A personal friend of Pope Gregory VII
3. The saint is represented in art as a cardinal bearing a knotted rope (the disciplina) in his hand; also sometimes he is depicted as a pilgrim holding a papal Bull, to signify his many legations.
"If I may speak figuratively, drive out the roaring beasts from your domain; do not cease from protecting yourself daily by receiving the Flesh and Blood of the Lord. Let your secret foe see your lips reddened with the Blood of Christ. He will shudder, cower back, and flee to his dark, dank retreat."
"Do not be depressed. Do not let your weakness make you impatient. Instead, let the serenity of your spirit shine through your face. Let the joy of your mind burst forth. Let words of thanks break from your lips."