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1750_Andrea Barbiani, St. Peter Damian_Italian, 18th Century (d. 1779)_Classense, Town Library
Andrea Barbiani, St. Peter Damian, Italian, 18th Century (d. 1779), Classense, Town Library

Feast of Saint Peter Damian

(1007 – 1072 A.D.)

Saint Peter Damian was an Italian Benedictine monk, and arguably the most spirited ecclesiastical reformer of the 11th century, a century not lacking in such saints. Orphaned at a young age, and compelled to work (perhaps prophetically) as a swineherd, Peter was eventually adopted by his elder brother Damianus (whose name he would add to his own), the Archpriest of Ravenna, and given an education in theology and canon law. In his late 20s, he entered the isolated hermitage of Fonte Avellana, where he quickly developed a reputation for strict asceticism. He soon set about reforming not only his own monastery, but those of the surrounding region, where he introduced exacting penitential practices such as self-flagellation.

Disgusted by the state of the Church, Peter authored blistering indictments of the clergy, among them his magnum opus, the Liber Gomorrhianus (or “Book of Gomorrah”), in which he excoriates the vices of the clergy—particularly paederasty—and the superiors who not only fail stamp them out, but actively conceal them. This devotion to reform would ultimately draw him away from his beloved monastery, and in 1057, he was consecrated as Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia, from where he ultimately helped lay the foundations for the far-reaching reforms of his close friend Hildebrand of Sovana, the future Pope St. Gregory VII.

Nor did Peter’s influence end in death: In 1828, Pope Leo XII declared him a Doctor of the Church, recognizing his theological contributions. He is even honoured in Dante’s Divine Comedy, glorified in the 7th Sphere of Paradise, from where he continues to lament the state of the Church. In the words of Pope Benedict XVI, he was “a lover of solitude and at the same time a fearless man of the Church, committed personally to the task of reform.” Personifying the compatibility of the vita contemplativa and vita activa, St. Peter Damian is a light in our dark times, and the ideal patron for those looking to confront the diabolical forces assailing the Church today.

His feast day is February 21.

Credit: Saint Peter Damian Society, About St. Peter Damian,  https://damianites.org/patron/

Information herein posted under the "rules of fair use" to foster education and discussion in accordance with Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976.


He pours light into our minds, arouses our desire and gives us strength … As the soul is the life of the body, so the Holy Spirit is the life of our souls.”

Saint Peter Damian
1450_ Giovanni di Paolo, Dante and Beatrice with St. Peter Damian_Paradiso XXI, Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri_Italian, c. 1450_London, British LIbrary_MS Yates Thompson 36, fol. 167
Giovanni di Paolo, Dante and Beatrice Meet St. Peter Damian From Paradiso, Canto XXI of the Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, Italian, c. 1450, London, British LIbrary MS Yates Thompson 36, fol. 167
1600_Attributed to Girolamo Muziano, Peter Damian Writing for His Hermits_Italian, 16th Century_Vatican, Vatican Museums, Apostolic Palace, Map Rooms
Attributed to Girolamo Muziano, Peter Damian Writing the Rule for His Hermits, Italian, 16th Century, Vatican Museums, Apostolic Palace, Map Rooms

Nobody can fight properly or boldly for the faith if he clings to a fear of being stripped of earthly possessions.”

Saint Peter Damian
Saint Peter Damian Offering the Rule of the Camaldolese Order to the Virgin

Do not despair. Do not be depressed. Do not let your weakness make you impatient. Instead, let the serenity of your spirit shine through your face. Let the joy of your mind burst forth. Let words of thanks break from your lips.”

Saint Peter Damian


Saint Peter Damian, Doctor of the Church, pray for us.

Be not afraid!  And may the peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones today and always.  Holy Family, pray for us.  Amen.

The Holy Family, Murillo
The Heavenly and Earthly Trinities (c. 1675-82) by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617 – 1682)

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