This painting depicting St. Peter Claver tending to a slave is found in the sacristy of St. Pius X Church in Phoenix. (Tony Gutiérrez/CATHOLIC SUN)
Knights and Ladies of St. Peter Claver

The oldest and largest organization for African-American lay Catholics.



Sept. 9

This Spanish-born saint of the slave trade entered the Society of Jesus in 1601.

After studies in Barcelona and on Mallorca, where the Jesuit porter, Alphonsus Rodriguez, urged him to go to the New World, Peter went to South America in 1610 and was the first Jesuit ordained in Cartagena, Colombia, a port of entry for West African slaves.

Peter ministered to this desolate human cargo aboard the ships and ashore before they were sold, feeding, comforting and baptizing, by his own count, 300,000 slaves.

He and St. Alphonsus were canonized in 1888.

St. Peter Claver is the patron saint of slaves, of ministry to African Americans, Colombia and of seafarers. He is also the patron of the Knights and Ladies Auxiliary of St. Peter Claver, whose Council and Court 369 serves the diocesan Office of Black Catholic Ministry.