February 20, 2001
volume 12, no. 51

Tuesday and Wednesday, February 20th and 21st

Tuesday, February 20, 2001    Meditation

    Weekday in Ordinary Time
      First Reading: Sirach 2: 1-11
      Psalms: Psalm 37: 3-3, 18-19, 27-28, 29-40
      Gospel Reading: Mark 9: 30-37

Wednesday, February 21, 2001    Meditation

    Weekday in Ordinary Time and
    Feast of Saint Peter Damian, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
      First Reading: Sirach 4: 11-19
      Psalms: Psalm 119: 165, 168, 171-2, 174-5
      Gospel Reading: Mark 9: 38-40

Feast of Saint Peter Damian, Bishop and Doctor

        Born in Ravenna, Italy at the turn of the second millennium, Saint Peter Damian became an orphan at a very early age and was cared for by his brother for whom Peter tended pigs. One of Peter's older brothers was a priest - Padre Damian and when Peter was older the priest sent him to Faenza and then to Parma to receive his education. Peter adopted his older brother's religious name as his surname. After Peter became a professor, he followed the promptings of the Holy Spirit which lead him to join the Benedictines at the monastery of Fonte Aveliana where he lived as a hermit, devoting his life to an intensive study of the Scriptures. At the age of 42 he was chosen prior and subsequently founded five more Benedictine hermitages. His fame for great austerity and denunciation of simony spread throughout Europe and he was consecrated a Cardinal as Bishop of Ostia by Pope Stephen IX in 1057. However, because of his disdain for worldliness and his uncompromising stance against the trappings of the bishopric, he tried to resign his see but Stephen's successor Pope Nicholas II wouldn't accept it. When Nicholas died Peter entreated the new pontiff Pope Alexander II to accept his resignation which was duly recognized and Peter returned to being a Benedictine monk, but he never stopped working on ecclesiastical reform. He especially defended Alexander against the antipope Honorius II and became known far and wide as a great reformer and peacemaker, including being sent by the Pope to Germany to talk the German King Henry IV out of divorcing his wife Bertha. Peter was a prolific writer and penned many mystical writings on the Eucharist and Purgatory as well as producing writings which hold today in regards the explanation of clerical celibacy, immorality, and simony. He died in Faenza, Italy in 1072 at the age of 71 enroute back from Ravenna after having reconciled that see with Rome. It was not until the nineteenth century that he was canonized though he was popularized by local cults including being immortalized in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries by Italian poet Dante in his work Divine Comedy. In 1828 Pope Leo XII officially recognized Peter as a saint of the Church and proclaimed him a Doctor, extending his feast to the Universal Church on February 21st each year.

February 20, 2001
volume 12, no. 51
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