Saint Peter Damian
Bust of Peter Damian. Santa Maria degli Angeli, Florence.
|Bishop, Confessor and Doctor of the Church|
|Died||22 February 1072 or 1073 |
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church|
|Feast||21 February |
earlier 23 February (General Roman Calendar, 1823-1969)
|Attributes||represented as a cardinal bearing a knotted rope in his hand; also as a pilgrim holding a papal Bull; Cardinal's hat, Benedictine monk's habit|
Peter Damian (Latin : Petrus Damianus; Italian : Pietro or Pier Damiani; c. 1007 – 21 or 22 February 1072 or 1073) was a reforming Benedictine monk and cardinal in the circle of Pope Leo IX. Dante placed him in one of the highest circles of Paradiso as a great predecessor of Saint Francis of Assisi and he was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1828. His feast day is 21 February.
Italian is a Romance language of the Indo-European language family. Italian descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire and, together with Sardinian, is by most measures the closest language to it of the Romance languages. Italian is an official language in Italy, Switzerland, San Marino and Vatican City. It has an official minority status in western Istria. It formerly had official status in Albania, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro (Kotor) and Greece, and is generally understood in Corsica and Savoie. It also used to be an official language in the former Italian East Africa and Italian North Africa, where it still plays a significant role in various sectors. Italian is also spoken by large expatriate communities in the Americas and Australia. Italian is included under the languages covered by the European Charter for Regional or Minority languages in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Romania, although Italian is neither a co-official nor a protected language in these countries. Many speakers of Italian are native bilinguals of both Italian and other regional languages.
The Gregorian Reforms were a series of reforms initiated by Pope Gregory VII and the circle he formed in the papal curia, c. 1050–80, which dealt with the moral integrity and independence of the clergy. The reforms are considered to be named after Pope Gregory VII (1073–85), though he personally denied it and claimed his reforms, like his regnal name, honoured Pope Gregory I.
Christian monasticism is the devotional practice of individuals who live ascetic and typically cloistered lives that are dedicated to Christian worship. It began to develop early in the history of the Christian Church, modeled upon scriptural examples and ideals, including those in the Old Testament, but not mandated as an institution in the scriptures. It has come to be regulated by religious rules and, in modern times, the Canon law of the respective Christian denominations that have forms of monastic living. Those living the monastic life are known by the generic terms monks (men) and nuns (women). The word monk originated from the Greek monachos "monk", itself from monos meaning "alone".
Peter was born in Ravenna around 988, the youngest of a large noble, but poor family. Orphaned early, he was at first adopted by an elder brother, who ill-treated and under-fed him while employing him as a swineherd. After some years, another brother, Damianus, who was archpriest at Ravenna, had pity on him and took him away to be educated. Adding his brother's name to his own, Peter made such rapid progress in his studies of theology and canon law, first at Ravenna, then at Faenza, and finally at the University of Parma, that, around the age of 25, he was already a famous teacher at Parma and Ravenna.
Ravenna is the capital city of the Province of Ravenna, in the Emilia-Romagna region of Northern Italy. It was the capital city of the Western Roman Empire from 402 until that empire collapsed in 476. It then served as the capital of the Ostrogothic Kingdom until it was re-conquered in 540 by the Byzantine Empire. Afterwards, the city formed the centre of the Byzantine Exarchate of Ravenna until the invasion of the Lombards in 751, after which it became the seat of the Kingdom of the Lombards.
The ecclesiastical title of archpriest or archpresbyter belongs to certain priests with supervisory duties over a number of parishes. The term is most often used in Eastern Orthodoxy and Eastern Catholic Churches and may be somewhat analogous to a monsignor in the Latin Church, but in the Eastern Churches an archpriest wears an additional vestment and, typically, a pectoral cross, and one becomes an archpriest via a liturgical ceremony.
Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine and, more broadly, of religious belief. It is taught as an academic discipline, typically in universities and seminaries. It occupies itself with the unique content of analyzing the supernatural, but also deals with religious epistemology, asks and seeks to answer the question of revelation. Revelation pertains to the acceptance of God, gods, or deities, as not only transcendent or above the natural world, but also willing and able to interact with the natural world and, in particular, to reveal themselves to humankind. While theology has turned into a secular field, religious adherents still consider theology to be a discipline that helps them live and understand concepts such as life and love and that helps them lead lives of obedience to the deities they follow or worship.
About 1035, however, he gave up his secular calling and, avoiding the compromised luxury of Cluniac monasteries, entered the isolated hermitage of Fonte Avellana, near Gubbio. Both as novice and as monk, his fervor was remarkable but led him to such extremes of self-mortification in penance that his health was affected, and he developed severe insomnia.
Cluny is a commune in the eastern French department of Saône-et-Loire, in the region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. It is 20 km (12 mi) northwest of Mâcon.
Although today's meaning is usually a place where a hermit lives in seclusion from the world, hermitage was more commonly used to mean a building or settlement where a person or a group of people lived religiously, in seclusion. When included in the name of continental European properties or churches, any meaning is often imprecise, and may refer to some distant period of the history of what is today a property that is either a normal parish church, or ceased to have any religious function some time ago. Secondary churches or establishments run from a monastery were often called "hermitages".
Fonte Avellana or the Venerable Hermitage of the Holy Cross, is a Roman Catholic hermitage in Serra Sant'Abbondio in the Marche region of Italy. It was once also the name of an order of hermits based at this hermitage.
On his recovery, he was appointed to lecture to his fellow monks. Then, at the request of Guy of Pomposa (Guido d'Arezzo) and other heads of neighboring monasteries, for two or three years he lectured to their brethren also, and (about 1042) wrote the life of St Romuald for the monks of Pietrapertosa. Soon after his return to Fonte Avellana he was appointed economus (manager or housekeeper) of the house by the prior, who designated him as his successor. In 1043 he became prior of Fonte Avellana, and remained so until his death in February 1072.
Romuald was the founder of the Camaldolese order and a major figure in the eleventh-century "Renaissance of eremitical asceticism".
Pietrapertosa is a town and comune in the province of Potenza, in the Southern Italian region of Basilicata. It is bounded by the comuni of Accettura, Albano di Lucania, Campomaggiore, Castelmezzano, Cirigliano, Corleto Perticara, Gorgoglione and Laurenzana.
Prior, derived from the Latin for "earlier, first", is an ecclesiastical title for a superior, usually lower in rank than an abbot or abbess. Its earlier generic usage referred to any monastic superior.
Subject-hermitages were founded at San Severino, Gamogna, Acerreta, Murciana, San Salvatore, Sitria and Ocri. A zealot for monastic and clerical reform, he introduced a more-severe discipline, including the practice of flagellation ("the disciplina"), into the house, which, under his rule, quickly attained celebrity, and became a model for other foundations, even the great abbey of Monte Cassino. There was much opposition outside his own circle to such extreme forms of penitence, but Peter's persistent advocacy ensured its acceptance, to such an extent that he was obliged later to moderate the imprudent zeal of some of his own hermits.
San Severino Marche is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Macerata in the Italian region Marche, located about 50 kilometres (31 mi) southwest of Ancona and about 25 kilometres (16 mi) southwest of Macerata.
Scheggia e Pascelupo is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Perugia in the Italian region Umbria, located about 40 km northeast of Perugia. The municipal seat is located in the main village of Scheggia, just below Scheggia Pass on Route SS/SR 3, following the ancient Via Flaminia.
Flagellation, flogging, whipping or lashing is the act of beating the human body with special implements such as whips, lashes, rods, switches, the cat o' nine tails, the sjambok, the knout, etc. Typically, flogging is imposed on an unwilling subject as a punishment; however, it can also be submitted to willingly, or performed on oneself, in religious or sadomasochistic contexts.
Another innovation was that of the daily siesta, to make up for the fatigue of the night office. During his tenure of the priorate a cloister was built, silver chalices and a silver processional cross were purchased, and many books were added to the library.
A siesta is a short nap taken in the early afternoon, often after the midday meal. Such a period of sleep is a common tradition in some countries, particularly those where the weather is warm.
A cloister is a covered walk, open gallery, or open arcade running along the walls of buildings and forming a quadrangle or garth. The attachment of a cloister to a cathedral or church, commonly against a warm southern flank, usually indicates that it is part of a monastic foundation, "forming a continuous and solid architectural barrier... that effectively separates the world of the monks from that of the serfs and workmen, whose lives and works went forward outside and around the cloister."
A processional cross is a crucifix or cross which is carried in Christian processions. Such crosses have a long history: the Gregorian mission of Saint Augustine of Canterbury to England carried one before them "like a standard", according to Bede. Other sources suggest that all churches were expected to possess one. They became detachable from their staffs, so that the earliest altar crosses were processional crosses placed on a stand at the end of the procession. In large churches the "crux gemmata", or richly jewelled cross in precious metal, was the preferred style. Notable early examples include the Cross of Justin II, Cross of Lothair, and Cross of Cong.
Although living in the seclusion of the cloister, Peter Damian closely watched the fortunes of the Church, and like his friend Hildebrand, the future Pope Gregory VII, he strove for reforms in a deplorable time. After almost two centuries of political and social upheaval, doctrinal ignorance, and the petty venality among the clergy had reached intolerable levels. When the scandalous Benedict IX resigned the pontificate into the hands of the archpriest John Gratian (Gregory VI) in 1045, Peter hailed the change with joy and wrote to the new pope, urging him to deal with the scandals of the church in Italy, singling out the wicked bishops of Pesaro, of Città di Castello and of Fano.
Extending the area of his activities, he entered into communication with the Emperor Henry III. He was present in Rome when Clement II crowned Henry III and his consort Agnes, and he also attended a synod held at the Lateran in the first days of 1047, in which decrees were passed against simony.
After this he returned to his hermitage. Damian published a constant stream of open letters on a variety of theological and disciplinary controversies. About 1050, he wrote Liber Gomorrhianus addressed to Pope Leo IX, containing a scathing indictment of the practice of sodomy, as threatening the integrity of the clergy. Meanwhile, the question arose as to the validity of the ordinations of simoniacal clerics. Peter Damian wrote (about 1053) a treatise, the Liber Gratissimus, in favor of their validity, a work which, though much combatted at the time, was potent in deciding the question in their favor before the end of the 12th century. Pope Benedict XVI described him as "one of the most significant figures of the 11th century ... a lover of solitude and at the same time a fearless man of the Church, committed personally to the task of reform."
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Peter often condemned philosophy. He claimed that the first grammarian was the Devil, who taught Adam to decline deus in the plural. He argued that monks should not have to study philosophy, because Jesus did not choose philosophers as disciples, and so philosophy is not necessary for salvation. But the idea (later attributed to Thomas Aquinas) that philosophy should serve theology as a servant serves her mistress originated with him.However, this apparent animosity may reflect his view that logic is only concerned with the validity of argument, rather than the nature of reality. Similar views are found in Al-Ghazali and Wittgenstein.
Damian's tract De divina omnipotentia is frequently misunderstood. Damian's purpose is to defend the "doctrine of omnipotence", which he defines as the ability of God to do anything that is good, i.e., God cannot lie. Toivo J. Holopainen identifies De divina omnipotentia as "an interesting document related to the early developments of medieval discussion concerning modalities and divine omnipotence."Peter also recognized that God can act outside time, as Gregory of Rimini later argued.
During his illness the pope died, and Frédéric, abbot of Monte Cassino, was elected pope as Stephen IX. In the autumn of 1057, Stephen IX determined to make Damian a cardinal. For a long time Damian resisted the offer, for he was more at ease as an itinerant hermit-preacher than a reformer from within the Curia, but was finally forced to accept, and was consecrated Cardinal Bishop of Ostia on 30 November 1057.
In addition he was appointed administrator of the Diocese of Gubbio. The new cardinal was impressed with the great responsibilities of his office and wrote a stirring letter to his brother-cardinals, exhorting them to shine by their example before all. Four months later Pope Stephen died at Florence, and the Church was once more distracted by schism. Peter was vigorous in his opposition to the antipope Benedict X, but force was on the side of the intruder and Damian retired temporarily to Fonte Avallana.[ citation needed ]
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About the end of the year 1059 Peter was sent as legate to Milan by Pope Nicholas II. So bad was the state of things at Milan, that benefices (a reward received in exchange for services rendered and as a retainer for future services) were openly bought and sold, and the clergy publicly married the women with whom they lived. The resistance of the clergy of Milan to the reform of Ariald the Deacon and Anselm of Lucca rendered a contest so bitter that an appeal was made to the Holy See.
Nicholas II sent Damian and the Bishop of Lucca as his legates. The party of the irregular clerics took alarm and raised the cry that Rome had no authority over Milan. Peter boldly confronted the rioters in the cathedral, he proved to them the authority of the Holy See with such effect that all parties submitted to his decision.
He exacted first a solemn oath from the archbishop and all his clergy that for the future no preferment should be paid for; then, imposing a penance on all who had been guilty, he reinstated in their benefices all who undertook to live in celibacy. This prudent decision was attacked by some of the rigorists at Rome, but was not reversed. Unfortunately, on the death of Nicholas II, the same disputes broke out; nor were they finally settled till after the martyrdom of St Ariald in 1066. Meanwhile, Peter was pleading in vain to be released from the cares of his office. Neither Nicholas II nor Hildebrand would consent to spare him.
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He rendered valuable assistance to Pope Alexander II in his struggle with the antipope, Honorius II. In July 1061 Pope Nicholas II died and once more a schism ensued. Peter Damian used all his powers to persuade the antipope Cadalous to withdraw, but to no purpose. Finally Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne and acting regent in Germany, summoned a council at Augsburg at which a long argument by Peter Damian was read and greatly contributed to the decision in favor of Alexander II.
In 1063 the pope held a synod at Rome, at which Peter Damian was appointed legate to settle the dispute between the Abbey of Cluny and the Bishop of Mâcon. He proceeded to France, summoned a council at Chalon-sur-Saône, proved the justice of the contentions of Cluny, settled other questions at issue in the Church of France, and returned in the autumn to Fonte Avellana.[ citation needed ]
While he was in France the antipope Cadalous had again become active in his attempts to gain Rome, and Peter Damian brought upon himself a sharp reproof from Alexander and Hildebrand for twice imprudently appealing to the royal power to judge the case anew. In 1067, the cardinal was sent to Florence to settle the dispute between the bishop and the monks of Vallombrosa, who accused the former of simony. His efforts, however, were not successful, largely because he misjudged the case and threw the weight of his authority on the side of the bishop. The matter was not settled until the following year by the pope in person.[ citation needed ]
Having served the papacy as legate to France and to Florence, he was allowed to resign his bishopric in 1067. After a period of retirement at Fonte Avellana, he proceeded in 1069 as papal legate to Germany, and persuaded the emperor Henry IV to give up his intention of divorcing his wife Bertha. He accomplished this task at a council in Frankfurt before returning to Fonte-Avellana.[ citation needed ]
Early in 1072 or 1073 [ citation needed ]he was sent to Ravenna to reconcile its inhabitants to the Holy See, they having been excommunicated for supporting their archbishop in his adhesion to the schism of Cadalous. On his return thence he was seized with fever near Faenza. He lay ill for a week at the monastery of Santa Maria degl'Angeli, now Santa Maria Vecchia. On the night preceding the feast of the Chair of St. Peter at Antioch, he ordered the office of the feast to be recited and at the end of the Lauds he died. He was at once buried in the monastery church, lest others should claim his relics.
During his concluding years he was not altogether in accord with the political ideas of Hildebrand. He died the year before Hildebrand became pope, as Gregory VII. "It removed from the scene the one man who could have restrained Gregory", Norman F. Cantor remarked (Civilization of the Middle Ages, p 251).
Peter Damian is a saint and was made a Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XII in 1828 with a feast day which is now celebrated on 21 February (Ordinary calendar). [ citation needed ] So in 1970, his feast was moved to 21 February, to align it with the ordinary calendar.Although it was traditionally given as 23 February, this was using the Roman calendar which had 29 days in January.
His body has been moved six times. Since 1898, Peter Damian has rested in a chapel dedicated to the saint in the cathedral of Faenza. No formal canonization ever took place, but his cult has existed since his death at Faenza, at Fonte-Avellana, at Monte Cassino, and at Cluny.[ citation needed ]
The saint is represented in art as a cardinal bearing a knotted rope (the disciplina) in his hand; also sometimes he is depicted as a pilgrim holding a papal Bull, to signify his many legations.[ citation needed ]
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Peter Damian's voluminous writings, including treatises (67 survive), letters, sermons, prayers, hymns and liturgical texts (though, in a departure from many early medieval monks, no biblical commentaries)reflect the spiritual conditions of Italy: the groundswell of intense personal piety that would overflow in the First Crusade at the end of the century, and his Latin abounds in denunciatory epithets.
His works include:
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