Franciscan Saints
19th October

St. Peter of Alcantara

Confessor, First Order

Beatified April 18, 1622, Rome by Pope Gregory XV, Canonized  April 28, 1669, Rome by Pope Clement IX, Feast  October 18,October 19 (General Roman Calendar 1670�1969)

Peter of Alcantara, born 1499, was a contemporary of renowned 16th-century Spanish saints, including Ignatius of Loyola and John of the Cross. He served as confessor to St. Teresa of Avila. Church reform was a major issue in Peter�s day, and he directed most of his energies toward that end. His death came one year before the Council of Trent ended.

Born into an aristocratic family (his father was the governor of Alcantara in Spain), Peter studied law at Salamanca University and, at 16, joined the so-called Observant Franciscans (also known as the discalced, or barefoot, friars). While he practiced many penances, he also revealed aptitudes which were soon recognized. He was named the superior of a new house even before his ordination as a priest; at the age of 39, he was elected provincial; he was a very successful preacher. Still, he was not above washing dishes and cutting wood for the friars. He did not seek attention; indeed, he preferred solitude.

Peter�s penitential side was evident when it came to food and clothing. It is said that he slept only 90 minutes each night. While others talked about Church reform, Peter�s reform began with himself. His patience was so great that a proverb arose: "To bear such an insult one must have the patience of Peter of Alcantara."

In 1554, Peter, having received permission, formed a group of Franciscans who followed the Rule of St. Francis with even greater rigor.

As spiritual director to St. Teresa, Peter encouraged her in promoting the Carmelite reform. His preaching brought many people to religious life, especially to the Secular Franciscan Order, the friars and the Poor Clares. 1

On October eighteenth 1562, he went peacefully to the Lord, Theresa saw his soul take flight to heaven, later he appeared to her saying: �O happy penance that has merited for me such wondrous glory!� Many miracles, including the raising of a dead person to life occurred to answer prayers addressed to him. Pope Clement IX enrolled him among the saints in 1669 and his feast is observed by the three branches of the First Order on October the nineteenth. 2


"I do not praise poverty for poverty's sake; I praise only that poverty which we patiently endure for the love of our crucified Redeemer and I consider this far more desirable than the poverty we undertake for the sake of poverty itself; for if I thought or believed otherwise, I would not seem to be firmly grounded in faith" (Letter of Peter to Teresa of Avila).1

Prayer of the church

O God, who didst bestow on St. Peter, Thy confessor, the gifts
of marvellous penance and lofty contemplation, grant, we
beseech Thee, that with his merits pleading for us, we may so
mortify the flesh as to embrace more readily the things of heaven.
Through the same Christ Our Lord  Who liveth �and reigneth

with Thee
 and the Holy Spirit,  One God, now and forever.  Amen

1: Foley, Leonard Fr, OFM ,ed., revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.,2009,Saint of the Day, Lives, Lessons and Feast, St. Anthony�s Messenger Press, Cincinnati, OH

2: Habig, Marion A., O.F.M., 1959, ed., The Franciscan book of Saints, Franciscan Herald press, Chicago, Illinois


Last edited 13/09/2017 10:06 
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