Claver, Pedro (1580–1654)

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Claver, Pedro (1580–1654)

Pedro Claver (b. 26? June 1580; d. 8 September 1654), Catalan Jesuit missionary in Colombia who became a saint. Born in Verdú, Spain, Claver joined the Jesuits in 1602. He arrived in Cartagena in 1610, then quickly went on to Bogotá and Tunja, where he studied until 1615. Ordained in Cartagena in 1616, Claver worked among the black slaves as a protégé of Father Alonso Sandoval. In 1622 he signed his final vows as "Pedro Claver, slave of the negroes forever." For the next three decades he met the slave ships coming to Cartagena, the main slave emporium in Spanish America, and ministered to the needs of their human cargo. Claver had black translators fluent in African languages who questioned, instructed, and aided the slaves in religious and health matters. He also sought out the destitute in hospitals and jails and provided them with medicine, food, and clothes. When asked how many he had baptized, he answered, "more than three hundred thousand." Claver died in Cartagena. He was beatified by Pius IX in 1851 and canonized by Leo XIII in 1888.

See alsoSlavery: Spanish America .


A good survey is Angel Valtierra, S.J., Pedro Claver: El santo redentor de los negros, 2 vols. (1980); the earlier edition (1954) is available in English as Peter Claver: Saint of the Slaves, translated by Janet H. Perry and L. J. Woodward (1960). A succinct account can be found in Juan Manuel Pacheco, S.J., Historia extensa de Colombia, vol. 13; Historia eclesiá stica, Tomo 2, La consolidación de la iglesia, siglo xvii (1975), esp. pp. 633-637.

Additional Bibliography

Abston, Emanuel Jordan. "Catholicism and African-Americans: A Study of Claverism, 1909–1959." Ph.D. disseration, Florida State University, 1998.

Rey Parrado, Maria Lucía. Historia de la Congregación Hermanas de los pobres de San Pedro Claver, 1874–1984. Bogotá: Editorial Kelly, 1984.

Splendiani, Anna Marí, and Tulio Aristizábal Giraldo. Proceso de beatificación y canonización de San Pedro Claver. Bogotá: Pontificia Universidad Javeriana: Universidad Católica del Táchira, 2002.

                                 Maurice P. Brungardt