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Saint of the Day

St. Pedro Gonzales

April 14
Spanish, 1190-1246

Castilian nobility who mis-spent a worldly youth. Educated by his uncle, the bishop of Astorga, Spain. Priest, primarily as a step to high office. Obtained special papal dispensation to become Canon of Palencia when he was officially still too young. During a grand Christmas Day entrance into the city, his horse was spooked by the noise of the crowds. It threw him in all his finery onto a dung-heap, much to the delight of the citizens who knew his was a political, not a spiritual appointment.

Dazed, filthy, humiliated, and with the undeniable understanding that his parishioners thought he was a hack, he withdrew from the world for a period of prayer and meditation. It worked. He had a true conversion experience and spent the rest of his life making up for his lost youth and the mockery he made of his position. Joined the Dominicans. Family and friends tried to draw him back to his old life and their planned pursuit of position, but he responded, "If you love me, follow me! If you cannot follow me, forget me!"

Confessor and court chaplain to King St. Ferdinand III of Castile. Against the opposition of more worldly courtiers, he reformed court life around the king. Worked for the Crusade against the Moors, accompanied Ferdinand into the battlefields, and then worked for humane treatment of Moorish prisoners.

A favorite of the king, Peter feared the honors and easy life would lead him to a return to his previous ways, so he left the court and evangelized to shepherds in the hills, along the waterfronts, and among Spanish and Portuguese sailors who still venerate him and consider him their special patron, blending his story with that of Saint Elmo, and calling upon him for protection in the face of bad weather.

Almighty God, you bestowed the singular help of Saint Peter Gonzales on those in peril from the sea. By the help of his prayers may the light of your grace shine forth in all the storms of this life and enable us to find the harbor of everlasting salvation. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

St. Pedro Gonzales, pray for us!

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