St. Peter Claver
Saint Peter Claver was born in Spain 1580. He joined the Jesuits and requested to serve in the American missions. He was ordained a priest in Cartagena, Colombia, in 1615, and immediately and from then on dedicated himself to the physical and spiritual care of African slaves. He met every slave ship he possibly could as soon as it dropped anchor in port. Using interpreters, he greeted the traumatized chained men and women with fresh water, ripe fruit, bandages, perfumes, food, medicine, lemons, a broad smile and charitable caresses. When weather prohibited seafaring and he didn’t have to be in port, Peter instructed and baptized whatever slaves were open to it. He baptized more than forty thousand souls.
Saint Peter Claver lost his senses of taste and smell due to his long years of breathing obnoxious odors. He called himself the slave of the slaves. He also labored among the Spanish slave traders, attempting to convert them from their evil ways. When visiting his fellow Spaniards, he did not stay with them but in their often rancid slave quarters. This apostle of Cartagena died forgotten, alone, and poor. He was canonized in 1888.