Saint Peter Damian

Peter Damian was born around 1006 in Ravenna and died on 22 or 23 February 1072 in Faenza.

He practically lived in two worlds. He did as much for contemplation as he did for big politics. The hermits were as dear to him as were emperors and kings.

Damian was one of the most prolific writers of the Middle Ages with a very cultivated Latin style and left behind a very extensive collection of theological writings.

As a connoisseur of Roman law, he was one of the great legal scholars of his time and set new standards in the application of Church law.

Peter was a swineherd in his youth. His brother Damianus had come to some prosperity and supported Peter in his studies in Faenza and Parma.

Out of gratitude Peter took the name of his brother.

He turned away from his secular life and became Prior of Fonte Avellana near Gubbio, where he introduced scourge practices, but also wrote writings aimed at improving the church regiment and the customs of the clergy.

In his correspondence with Henry III, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, and the Popes, Peter sharply criticised the excesses of the clergy.

In 1057 Peter was raised against his will by Pope Stephen IX to the position of Cardinal and Bishop of Ostia.

Saint Peter Damian

Saint Peter Damian and Pope Alexander in San Gregorio Magno (Rome)


He had asked the Popes several times for his removal from his position, because he believed that he could better serve the Church in the silence of his hermitage. However, this withdrawal was refused to him.

In 1059 he made his influence valid at the synod in the Lateran. He achieved new rules for the election of the Pope, for choristers and for priests.

In 1062 he had to go to France as papal legate to reform the Cluny monastery.

In 1069, he confronted Emperor Henry IV with such serious aims in Mainz that the latter almost unquestioningly abandoned his plan of divorce.

Peter died on the return journey from Ravenna in the monastery of S. Maria foris portam in Faënza, where he was also buried.

Today he is considered a patron saint against headaches.

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