Friday, April 27, 2018

Blessings in Honor of St Peter Martyr

This coming Sunday, April 29th, is the feast of St Peter Martyr, a Dominican Friar murdered by followers of the bizarre heresy of the Cathars in 1252. A disciple of St Dominic, who personally clothed him in the Order’s habit, he was appointed by Pope Gregory IX (1227-41) as a General Inquisitor for the whole of northern Italy, where the Cathars were a fairly notable presence. We have written previously about his feast day, his monumental tomb, and his principal assassin, Blessed Carino, who converted and lived a life of repentance in the Dominican house at Forlì.

The relic of St Peter Martyr’s skull, displayed for the veneration of the faithful on his feast day in 2015.
The Roman Ritual contains two blessings in his honor, one of water, and another of palms, both formerly reserved to the Dominican Order. (The “reserved” blessings proper to particular Orders were all freed up, so to speak, for general use in 1964.) The blessing of water is done “with relics of St Peter.”

V. Our help...
V. The Lord be with you.

Let us pray. O God, who for the salvation of the human race did institute the greatest mysteries in the substance of water, mercifully be present to our invocations, and pour forth upon this element of water Thy bless+ing, which we seal by the power of the blessed Peter, Thy Martyr; so that though his intercession, it may be a salutary remedy for your faithful, driving out evil spirits from them, and warding off illnesses and infirmities of body and spirit; and grant that all who drink of it or are sprinkled with it may be delivered from every adversity of body and soul, and regain health in their whole being. Through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.

Let us pray. Almighty everlasting God, we humbly implore Thy boundless clemency, that Thou may deign to bless + by Thy indescribable power these Thy faithful people, who devoutly come to (venerate) the relics of the blessed Martyr Peter, and ask for his prayers; so that by his intercession, delivered from every ailment of mind and body, protected  here and everywhere by Thy mercy, and saved by Thy grace, they may merit, after the course of this way and life, to come unto eternal joy. Through Christ our Lord.

There is also a custom of honoring St Peter by having palm-leaves blessed on his feast. These are traditionally made into crosses and buried in the four corners of one’s property, to guard the place and its occupants both physically and spiritually. (If you live in an apartment or condominium, you could just place them in four corners.) The tradition of the palms is derived from the triumphal entrance of Christ into Jerusalem, as the blessing itself notes, when the people laid palm branches in front of His procession into the city, less than a week before His passion and death. Of course, we celebrate this entrance on Palm Sunday, and a part of that celebration is to receive the palm leaves that have been blessed the Mass. They may then be shaped into the form of a cross and brought to be blessed again on St Peter’s feast.

Courtesy of Mr Gerard Pilley
Palms have also been, of course, a symbol of martyrdom from the very beginning of the Church, and St Peter’s martyrdom was one of the most celebrated and honored of the Ages of the Faith. He remains to this day the single most rapidly canonized Saint by a formal process, which was completed less than a year after his death.

V. Our help...
V. The Lord be with you.

Let us pray. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, bless + these branches of trees at our supplication, and to pour out upon them, o Lord, by the power of the holy + Cross, and by the intercession of the blessed Martyr Peter, a heavenly blessing, Who, when Thou wast about to triumph over the enemy of the human race, willed that the children show Thee honor by palms and the branches of trees; and by the sign of the holy + Cross, may they receive a blessing, such that wherever any of them may be placed, the princes of darkness may depart, and tremble, and flee in terror, with all their ministers, from such homes and places. Let not lightning and storm do damage there, let inclement weather not consume or destroy the fruits of the earth, let nothing disturb or trouble those who serve Thee, the almighty God, who livest and reignest unto all ages. R. Amen.

St Peter’s death took place on April 6th, but since that date will very often occur in Holy Week or the Easter octave, he was assigned to April 29th, and thus is always celebrated in Eastertide, which also has a proper Office and two proper Masses for the Martyrs. The Church released the blessings reserved to particular Orders precisely so that they could be more frequently celebrated; here is an excellent way for us all to increase the glory of Eastertide and invoke the intercession of one of the greatest Catholic Martyrs.

This article comes to us partly from Mr Gerald Pilley, a parishioner of St Benedict’s Parish in Chesapeake, Virginia, an apostolate of the FSSP, with our thanks. 

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