St. Peter Claver (1580–1654), whose memorial we celebrate today, offers a timely witness as our nation reckons anew with the enduring scourge of racism. The Catholic Church venerates St. Peter Claver as the patron saint of African Americans and slaves, but Claver himself was neither. Truer to his own biography, what might we learn from Claver, the pioneering patron of white anti-racism?
Editorial Note: This post is part of our #FaithAndScience series exploring the relationship between science and religion, and is excerpted from the author's textbook Faith, Science, & Reason: Theology on the Cutting Edge, 2nd edition (Midwest Theological Forum, 2019).
Important Catholic scientists have existed since the first millennium of the Christian era. The lives and scientific contributions of these individuals leave no doubt that a commitment to science is in the very spiritual DNA of the Church, part of her very life and consciousness. One such scientist has recently been held up by the Church as a witness to Catholic scientists: Blessed Nicholas Steno.
Today, the Church celebrates the First Holy Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church. These men and women were martyred en masse by Emperor Nero in Rome in the year 64 A.D., in his effort to shift the blame for the great fire of Rome from himself to the Christian community.
While the names of these proto-martyrs of the Church are lost to history, their deaths inspired many to convert to Christianity, proving once again the truth of Tertullian’s statement that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.”
I was recently asked what it was like doing the research for a book I co-authored about the stained glass windows at Notre Dame’s Basilica of the Sacred Heart. The words of the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz immediately popped into my head. “A while back, we were walking down the yellow brick road…” Researching and writing the book had its share of unexpected tornados, witches, even flying monkeys, and sometimes the yellow brick road just fell off into nowhere!
Editorial Note: This post is a part of our saint devotion series, in which one of our staff or faculty members explores their relationship with a particular saint.
St. Joseph is my favorite saint. He is my “best friend” among the saints, if the saints are our “friends.” I love him better than all the rest, and it’s OK, because, as St. Bernadette used to say, “there is no jealousy in Heaven.” But I cringe when someone asks me to write about him. I love St. Joseph so very much because his life is thoroughly “hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). He hides himself. We know him as someone who does not speak, who does not represent himself, who does not tell his own story, who gives up giving an account of himself. In this way, his life is a whole burnt offering, speaking to us only by not speaking.