dimanche 15 avril 2012

Saint PIERRE GONZALEZ dit Saint ELME, prêtre dominicain et confesseur

Antoni Guerra le jeune (1666-1711). Saint Elme, 1701,
Huile sur toile, 199 x 134, Perpignan, Musée Hyacinthe Rigaud
(en dépôt aux Archives Municipales). Photo : Michel Castillo

SAINT PIERRE GONZALEZ

Dominicain

(1190-1246)

Pierre Gonzalez naquit, l'an 1190, dans la ville d'Astorga, en Espagne, d'une famille distinguée. Son oncle, évêque de Palencia, charmé de ses talents, le pourvut d'un canonicat et le fit ensuite nommer doyen du Chapitre de sa cathédrale.

Le jour de sa prise de possession, Gonzalez, naturellement vaniteux, voulut traverser la ville sur un cheval superbement paré. C'est là que la Providence l'attendait: sa vanité se repaissait des applaudissements de la foule, quand le cheval se cabra, renversant dans la boue l'orgueilleux cavalier, au milieu des huées de la populace. Cette humiliation fut un coup de la grâce. Pierre se releva tout confus, et dit à haute voix: "Puisque le monde se moque de moi, je me moquerai de lui à mon tour." Il tint parole.

Dans la solitude, le jeûne et la prière, il dompta son orgueil et devint un modèle de pénitence et d'humilité. Décidé à rompre entièrement avec le siècle, il se démit de sa dignité pour se faire humble enfant de Saint-Dominique et employer ses talents à gagner des âmes au Ciel.

Il passait la plus grande partie des nuits à méditer, à prier, à étudier, et consacrait le jour à instruire les fidèles. Les libertins fondaient en larmes à ses sermons, et venaient à ses pieds avouer leurs désordres: il fut l'instrument d'une multitude de conversions.

Le roi d'Espagne Ferdinand III voulut attacher Gonzalez à sa personne et l'emmener partout avec lui, même à la guerre. Le saint religieux profita de la confiance du prince pour procurer la gloire de Dieu et il vint à bout de réformer bien des désordres, vivant toujours à la cour ou dans les camps, avec la même austérité et la même régularité que dans le cloître.

Quelques seigneurs licencieux résolurent de le perdre et gagnèrent à prix d'argent une courtisane pour le séduire. Gonzalez, comprenant les intentions de la malheureuse, allume un grand feu et se place au milieu, enveloppé de son manteau. A la vue de ce prodige, la misérable tombe à genoux et se convertit sincèrement; les seigneurs qui l'avaient gagnée en firent autant.

Cependant, malgré toutes les sollicitations du roi, Gonzalez quitta la cour: ayant assez fait pour les grands, il aspirait à instruire et à consoler les pauvres habitants des campagnes. Il passa le reste de sa vie à les évangéliser, avec un incroyable succès: les montagnes les plus escarpées, les lieux les plus inaccessibles, la grossièreté ou l'ignorance des populations enflammaient sa charité; des miracles accompagnaient ses paroles et leur faisaient porter de merveilleux fruits, surtout parmi les marins espagnols.

Un jour qu'il prêchait, le démon souleva un orage épouvantable, et la foule s'enfuyait déjà cherchant un abri, quand Gonzalez, par un grand signe de Croix, divisa les nuages, de sorte qu'il ne tomba pas une goutte d'eau. Il délivra très souvent par miracle des matelots qui avaient imploré son secours dans le danger.

Pierre Gonzalez connaissant, par révélation, sa fin prochaine, voulut se retirer à Compostelle, pour y mourir entre les bras de ses frères en religion; mais il tomba gravement malade à Tuy où il prêchait le carême, et y mourut le jour de Pâques, l'an 1246, à l'âge de cinquante-six ans. Ses reliques reposent dans la cathédrale de cette localité.

Saint Pierre Gonzalez, connu en Espagne sous le nom de saint Elme, est représenté marchant sur les eaux et tenant une flamme. Cette flamme désigne le feu de saint Elme. Il est quelquefois représenté avec cette flamme sur le front. Il est le patron des marins.

Réf.: Frères des Écoles Chrétiennes, Vie des Saints, 1932, p. 164-165 ; Abbé L. Jaud, Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l'année, Tours, Mame, 1950.

SOURCE : http://magnificat.ca/cal/fr/saints/saint_pierre_gonzalez.html

SAINT PIERRE GONZALEZ,

Dominicain

(1190-1246)

Saint Pierre Gonzalez était Espagnol ; il vint au monde l'an 1190. Nommé chanoine et bientôt doyen du chapitre d'Astorga, il était tout entier absorbé par des pensées de vaine gloire.

Une grande humiliation le fit rentrer en lui-même : au jour même de son installation dans sa charge, son cheval, faisant un faux pas, le jeta dans la boue, aux grands éclats de rire de la foule : « Puisque le monde se moque de moi, je me moquerai de lui à mon tour, » s'écria Gonzalez, et peu après il entrait chez les Dominicains.

Après avoir fait son noviciat et ses études, à l'édification de tous ses frères, il remplit avec un zèle infatigable les deux ministères de la prédication et de la confession. Rien ne pouvait le retenir quand il s'agissait de travailler au salut du prochain : il quittait tout, l'étude, le repos, le boire, le manger, et volait à la conquête des âmes.

Partout où il passait, il prêchait la pénitence, et la foule se précipitait sur son chemin pour recueillir les paroles de suavité qui sortaient de sa bouche. Appelé à la cour de Saint Ferdinand, il s'appliqua à la rendre chrétienne ; ses exemples donnaient à sa parole une grande autorité, car au milieu de la magnificence qui l'entourait, il vivait avec la même austérité que dans le cloître.

Quelques seigneurs licencieux résolurent de le perdre et gagnèrent à prix d'argent une courtisane, pour le séduire. Gonzalez, comprenant les intentions de la malheureuse femme, allume un grand feu et se place au milieu, enveloppé de son manteau.

A la vue du prodige, la misérable tombe à genoux et se convertit sincèrement ; les seigneurs qui l'avaient gagnée en firent autant. Bientôt Gonzalez quitta la cour; il se fit l'apôtre des campagnes et l'apôtre des matelots dans les villes maritimes.

Un jour qu'il prêchait, le démon souleva un orage épouvantable, et la foule s'enfuyait déjà cherchant un abri, quand Gonzalez, par un grand signe de croix, divisa les nuages, de sorte qu'il ne tomba pas une goutte d'eau.

Gonzalez, averti de sa mort prochaine, continua ses prédications jusqu'aux derniers jours de sa vie, et rendit doucement son âme au SEIGNEUR, en l'année 1246.

Saint Pierre Gonzalez, connu en Espagne sous le nom de Saint Elme, est représenté marchant sur les eaux et tenant une flamme. Cette flamme désigne le feu de Saint Elme. Il est quelquefois représenté avec cette flamme sur le front. Il est le patron des marins.

Pratique. Croyez, dans les épreuves, que DIEU fait tout pour votre plus grand bien.

SOURCE : http://je-n-oeucume-guere.blogspot.ca/2011/04/15-avril-saint-paterne-eveque-de-vannes.html


Bienheureux Pierre Gonzalès

Surnommé saint Elme, frère prêcheur (✝ 1246)

Pierre Gonzalès est né en 1190 à Astorga. Chanoine, il entre ensuite chez les Dominicains. Il remporte un grand succès comme prédicateur et de nombreuses conversions s'en suivent. Il réforme la Cour de Ferdinand III. Il évangélise les pauvres et les matelots, va jusque sur leurs bateaux. Il meurt le 15 avril 1246.

Béatifié par Innocent IV

Invoqué par les mariniers sous le nom de Saint Elme ou Saint Telme.

(Elme serait une déformation d'Erasme.)

Au 14 avril du martyrologe romain: À Tuy en Galice, l’an 1246, le bienheureux Pierre Gonzalez, appelé Telme par les marins, prêtre de l’Ordre des Prêcheurs. Il devint aussi humble qu’il avait recherché la gloire et se dépensa pour venir en aide aux miséreux, surtout aux marins et pêcheurs.

Martyrologe romain

SOURCE : http://nominis.cef.fr/contenus/saint/985/Bienheureux-Pierre-Gonzales.html

 Saint Pierre Gonzalez ou Elme

Pierre Gonzalez est né à Astorga, en Espagne, en 1190. Ses parents étaient riches. Il fut élevé par son oncle maternel qui était évêque et qui lui donna d'emblée plus de goût pour les honneurs que pour la sainteté.

Très jeune, il le fit chanoine de son église puis doyen du chapitre.

Lorsqu'il fut promu doyen, notre jeune Pierre Gonzalez se crût obligé d'organiser une somptueuse cérémonie pendant laquelle il pavoisa effrontément. C'était le jour de Noël.

Avant d'entrer dans l'église pour y prendre officiellement la charge de doyen, il processionna longuement, se pavanant sur un cheval richement harnaché. Mais son cheval faisant un faux pas, patatras, le prétentieux tomba piteusement dans la boue et autres saletés. Tout le monde se mit à rire et à huer à qui mieux mieux.

La honte ! Pierre Gonzalez se releva, et dit tout haut : "puisque le monde se moque de moi, je me moquerai de lui à mon tour."

Du coup, il entra chez les Dominicains.

Là, petit à petit, il se calma. Gagnant en savoir et en humilité il devint un orateur de première force.

Notez qu'il est difficile d'être humble pour les orateurs de première force.

Les Petits Bollandistes le présentent comme un parfait imitateur de saint Dominique. Je ne sais pas si, comme son grand modèle, Pierre Gonzalez passait entre les gouttes d'eau de pluie, mais en tous cas, il n'est pas passé à côté de la réputation.

Il s'était fait une réputation d'éminente sainteté, et sa célébrité vint aux oreilles du roi Ferdinand II qui voulut avoir Pierre Gonzalez à ses côtés. C'est que Ferdinand de Castille voulait vaincre les Arabes qui occupaient la majeure partie de l'Espagne. Pierre Gonzalez qui était si près de Dieu ne pouvait être que de bon conseil.

Le roi devait lui avoir donné bien du pouvoir, ce qui permit à notre saint de réformer l'armée et la cour. Or, l'austérité et les réprimandes n'étaient pas du goût de tout le monde. Il se fit des ennemis.

Les gens de la cour payèrent très cher une jolie femme afin de le séduire et le faire tomber dans la fornication.

Elle demanda à le voir puis joua les pénitentes en faisant semblant de pleurer tout en désirant se confesser.

Quand elle senti que le fruit mûrissait, elle dévoila son désir intense de séduction. Mais Pierre Gonzalez en avait vu d'autres. Il lui demanda quelques instants pour aller préparer une chambre afin de la mieux recevoir. Il alluma un grand feu dans la grande cheminée puis se jeta dans le feu avec son manteau. Le feu de le toucha pas. De là, il appela la séductrice qui, en voyant ce miracle s'évanouit. En reprenant connaissance, elle se convertit puis embrassa une vie faite toute de piété religieuse et de pénitence.

Grâce aux conseils de Pierre Gonzalez qui l'accompagnait toujours dans ses campagnes, Ferdinand II eut de grandes victoires sur les Arabes. En 1236 il reprit Cordoue et transforma la grande mosquée en église cathédrale.

Peu après, Pierre Gonzalez quitta la cour et partit prêcher vers Compostelle. Il parcourait les campagnes pour convertir les paysans mais il avait une prédilection pour les matelots avec lesquels il passait beaucoup de son temps. Il fit construire un pont sur le Minho, à Ribadavia. Pendant la construction, il eut du mal à nourrir tous les ouvriers. Il s'approcha alors de la rivière et commanda aux poissons qui vinrent en masse s'offrir pour être mangé.

Étrange comme les poissons aiment écouter les grands orateurs de première force ! C'est déjà arrivé à saint Antoine de Padoue avec les poissons de la mer.

Un jour que Pierre Gonzalez prêchait à Bayonne de Galice, Un orage épouvantable éclata. L'assemblée songeait à s'enfuir mais Pierre Gonzalez les rassura et fit taire l'orage par sa prière. Tous les environs étaient inondés mais, là où il parlait, il faisait sec.

Vers l'année 1240, alors qu'il prêchait dans un monastère de Bénédictins, il eut la révélation de sa mort prochaine. Il mourut le jour de Pâques à Tuy.

Comme il avait beaucoup prêché aux matelots et aux gens de mer, dans les petits villages de la côte de Galice, les marins espagnols l'ont pris pour patron. Ils l'appellent vulgairement saint Elme ou Telme. On pense qu'il s'agit d'un avatar d'Erasme (un martyr du 4ème siècle qu'on invoquait avant Pierre Gonzalez. Erasme serait devenu Ermo ou Elmo)

Du côté de la Galice, on raconte qu'on l'a vu souvent au milieu de la tempête, au sommet des mâts, aux extrémités des vergues. Il tient dans sa main une chandelle allumée de couleur verte. Après son apparition, la mer redevenait calme.

Qu'en aurait pensé Alfred Jarry ?

Il est souvent représenté marchant sur les eaux et tenant la flamme qui désigne le feu de saint Elme.

On l'invoque aussi contre les tremblements de terre.

SOURCE : http://carmina-carmina.com/carmina/Mytholosaints/gonzalez.htm


Blessed Peter Gonzalez, C.O.P.

(also known as Elmo-Erasmus, Telmo)

Memorial Day: April 14th

Profile

    The parents of Peter Gonzales were wealthy and apparently expected their son to become a priest so that he might in time obtain some rank. It was a period in history when this sort of thing was a trial to the Church, and Peter's worldly youth was only one of many examples. He was educated by his uncle, the bishop of Astorga, who invested him with a canonry at Palencia and deanery when he was still quite young.

    Full of pride, for a special Bull had been procured so that he might obtain the deanery while he was under age, he resolved to be installed with great pomp, and for his state entry into Astorga chose Christmas Day when the streets were likely to be crowded. He wanted to impress his flock with his fine clothes and vivid personality.

    He paraded through the town on horseback, magnificently equipped, but in the noise and excitement the animal reared and threw him upon a dungheap. The Spanish people, who have a fine sense of comedy, responded with loud gusts of laughter. Picking himself up in shame, he cried: "If the world mocks me, henceforth, I will mock the world." Covered with filth and confusion, Peter withdrew to clean up and ponder his sins.

    Surprisingly enough, when his wounded feelings had healed, Peter reformed his pointless life and immediately entered the Dominican monastery at Palencia. He was never to forget to weep for his sins, and his life was spent in prayer and penance to offset the wasted years of his youth.

    Peter's friends did not allow this to happen without protest. They had been amused by his accident, but not converted by it as he was, and they did their best to talk him into leaving religious life and returning to the luxurious world he had left behind. It was probably a serious temptation to the young man, for it is not easy to reform overnight. But he did not turn back. Instead, he said to his friends, "If you love me, follow me! If you cannot follow me, forget me!" He became, by close application to the rule, one of the shining exemplars of this difficult way of life.

    After his studies were completed, Peter entered into his apostolate. It was to take him into places where his worldly background would be a help rather than a hindrance, for he could well understand the temptations and troubles of worldly people. He was first of all a military chaplain with the royal army. He also began to preach in the region. He did not talk about trivia, his sermons drew large crowds. The recitation of the Psalms was his most constant prayer.

    The fame of his piety and zeal spread throughout Spain and reached the ears of King Saint Ferdinand of Castile, who sent for him and attached him to his court as chaplain and as his confessor. Appalled by its licentiousness, Gonzales immediately set about reforming it, which so displeased the younger courtiers that they tried to corrupt him; but he was proof against all temptations and won the confidence of the saintly king.

    Peter did much to foster the crusade against the Moors. When Ferdinand finally acted, Peter accompanied him on his expedition against the Moors. Upon the capture of Cordova and Seville, Peter used his influence and authority on the side of the vanquished and was instrumental in reducing rape and bloodshed. He also took over the Moorish mosques and converted them into Christian churches.

    He was showered with favors by the king, who had the utmost confidence in him. Fearing honors, however, Peter quit the king's service upon his return to Spain. Instead, moved by compassion, he lived among the poor peasants and sought to evangelize them. Although he was met everywhere with ignorance and brutality, his work proved efficacious. He penetrated the wildest and most inaccessible areas, seeking out the peasants in villages and the shepherds in the mountains of the Asturias. His preaching brought about reconciliation between neighbors and between men and God. He gave reassurance to the dismayed and the perplexed.

    Most of the anecdotes of his life come from this period, and they have to do with miracles that he worked for these people. At his prayer, storms ceased, droughts were ended, bottles were refilled with wine, bread was found in the wilderness. The bridge that he built across the swift river Minho made his name famous throughout Spain, and it existed up until recent times. During the time he was directing work on this bridge, he used to call the fish to come and be caught; it was a way of helping to feed the workers.

    He visited also the seaports of Galicia--boarding ships and preaching on their open decks. He had a great liking for sailors, and is often portrayed in the habit of his Order, holding a blue candle which symbolized Saint Elmo's fire, the blue electrical discharge which sometimes appears in thunder storms at the mast- heads of ships, and which was supposed to be a sign that the vessel was under the saint's protection. (The name of Saint Elmo is of earlier origin. Peter Gonzales, in the popular devotion of the sailors of the Mediterranean, has replaced the name and memory of the older saints associated with the sea, particularly the 4th century Saint Erasmus.)

    He retired finally to Tuy in a state of extreme exhaustion. During Lent he preached each day in the cathedral, on Palm Sunday he foretold his death, and on the Sunday after Easter, he died at Santiago de Compostella. Bishop Luke of Tuy, his great admirer and friend, attended him to his last breath and buried him honorably in his cathedral. In his last will, the bishop gave directions for his own body to be laid near Peter's remains, which were placed in a silver shrine and honored with many miracles (Benedictines, Delaney, Dorcy, Encyclopedia, Gill, Husenbeth).

Born: 1190 at Astorga, Spain

Died: April 15,1246 at Saintiago de Compostela, Tuy; buried in the cathedral at Tuy

Beatified: 1254 by Pope Innocent IV

Canonized: December 13, 1741 by Pope Benedict XIV (cultus confirmed) 

Representation: Dominican holding a blue candle or a candle with a blue flame; Dominican lying on his cloak which is spread over hot coals; Dominican holding fire in his bare hands; Dominican catching fish with his bare hands; Dominican beside the ocean, often holding or otherwise protecting a ship

Prayers

Almighty God, you bestowed the singular help of Blessed Peter on those in peril from the sea. By the help of his prayers may the light of your grace shine forth in all the storms of this life and enable us to find the harbor of everlasting salvation. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever. - General Calendar of the Order of Preachers

SOURCE : http://www.willingshepherds.org/Dominican%20Saints%20II.html

April 15

St. Peter Gonzales, Confessor

A.D. 1246.

From Bzovius ad an. 1246; the monuments collected by the Bollandists on the 14th of April, t. 2. p. 389. See F. Touron, Hommes Illustr. t. 1, p. 49.

[Commonly called St. Telm, or Elm, patron of mariners.]  THE BEST historians place the birth of St. Peter Gonzales, (in Latin, Gonsalvus,) in the year 1190, at Astorga, in the kingdom of Leon, in Spain, where he was descended of an illustrious family. His wonderful progress in his studies, showed him to be endowed with an extraordinary quickness of parts, and he embraced an ecclesiastical state, though at that time a stranger to the spirit of disengagement and humility which ought essentially to accompany it. His uncle, the bishop of Astorga, charmed with his capacity, preferred him to a canonry, and shortly after to the deanery of his chapter. The young dean, free indeed from vice, but full of the spirit of the world, took possession of his dignity with great pomp, but in the midst of his pride, happened, by a false step of his prancing horse, to fall into a sink. This was the moment in which God was pleased to strike his heart. This humiliation made the young gentleman enter into himself, and with remorse to condemn his own vanity, and fondness of applause, which deserved a much worse disgrace.—Opening his heart to these sentiments of grace, without taking advice from flesh and blood, he retired to Palencia, to learn the will of God in solitude, fasting, and prayer. To fight against pride and self-love, he laboured strenuously to put off the old man by mortification and humility, and became quickly a new man in Christ, recollected, penitent, meek, and humble. The better to secure his victory over the world and himself, he entered the austere Order of St. Dominick. The world pursued him into his retreat. Its wise men left no stone unturned to make him return to his dignity: but he was guided by better lights, and baffled all their suggestions. Having made his vows, and strengthened his soul in the spirit of humility and penance, by the exercises of holy retirement and obedience, he was ordered by his superiors to employ his talents in the ministry of the divine word, to which he consecrated the remainder of his life, to the great advantage of innumerable souls. After he had passed the best part of the night in holy meditations, or in singing the praises of God, he spent the whole day in instructing the faithful: his words, always animated with a burning charity, and supported by example, produced in his hearers the perfect sentiments with which he endeavoured to inspire them. The greatest libertines melted into tears at his sermons, and cast themselves at his feet in a spirit of compunction and penance. The number of conversions which God wrought by his ministry in the kingdom of Leon and Castille, especially in the diocess of Palencia, made King Ferdinand III., though always taken up in his wars with the Saracens, desirous to see him; and so much was he taken with the man of God, that he would have him always near his person, both in the court and in the field. He would have him always be present at his discourses, whether made to the generals, courtiers, or soldiers; and the holy man, by his prayers and exhortations, reformed the corrupt manners both of the troops and court. His example gave the greatest weight to his words; for he lived in the court as he would have done in a cloister, with the same austerities, the same recollection, the same practices of humility, and other virtues. Yet some slaves of pleasure hardened themselves against his zeal, and occasioned him many sufferings. A courtesan was told by some of the nobility, that, if she heard Gonzales preach, she would change her life. She impudently answered: “If I had the liberty to speak to him in private, he could no more resist my charms than so many others.” The lords, out of a malicious curiosity, promised her a great sum if she could draw him into sin. She went to the saint, and, that she might speak to him alone, said, she wanted to consult him on a secret affair of importance.—When others were gone out, she fell on her knees, and, shedding forced tears, pretended she desired to change her life, and began to make a sham confession to him of her sins, but had nothing else in view than to ensnare the servant of God, and at last, throwing off all disguise, said all the devil prompted her in order to seduce him. But her artifices only served to make his triumph the more glorious. Stepping into another room, where there was a fire, and wrapping himself in his cloak, he threw himself upon the burning coals, and then called upon her to come, and see where he waited for her. She, amazed to see him not burn, cast herself on the ground, confessing her crimes aloud, and suddenly became a true penitent, as they did also who had employed her. The saint accompanied Ferdinand, king of Leon and Castille, in all his expeditions against the Moors, particularly in the siege and taking of Cordova, in 1236, which, from the year 718, had ever been the chief seat of the Moorish dominions in Spain. Gonzales had a great share in the conquests and temporal advantages of this prince, by his prudent counsels and prayers, and by the good order which he prevailed with the officers and soldiers to observe. The conquest of Cordova opened a new field to the zeal of Gonzales. He moderated the ardour of the conquerors, saved the honour of the virgins and the lives of many enemies, and purified the mosques, converting them into churches: in all which he was seconded by King Ferdinand III. surnamed the Saint. The great mosque of Cordova, the most famous of all Spain, became the cathedral church: and whereas the Moors, when they conquered Compostella, two hundred and sixty years before, had carried away the bells and ornaments on the backs of Christians, and placed them in this   mosque, King Ferdinand compelled the infidels to carry them back themselves in the same manner to Compostella.

Gonzales burned with so ardent a desire to preach the great truths of our holy religion to the poor and the peasants, that no entreaties or solicitations could retain him any longer at court. Galicia, and the rest of the coast, were the chief theatres of his pious labours, the latter years of his life. Neither mountains, nor places of the most difficult access in Asturia, and other parts, nor the ignorance and brutality of the people, could daunt his courage. Under these fatigues, prayer was his refreshment. He appeared every where as a new apostle. But the success of his ministry was the most surprising in the diocess of Compostella and Tuy, in which also he wrought many miracles. At Bayona in Galicia, the number of his auditors having obliged him to preach in a great plain, in the open fields, and a violent storm arising with wind, thunder, and lightning, his whole audience began to be very uneasy, and thought to prevent the worst by flying. The holy preacher prevailed upon them to stay, and by prayer appeased the tempest. All places round about them were deluged; but not a drop fell on the auditory. The saint had a particular zeal to instruct the poor in the country, and the sailors, whom he sought on their vessels, and among whom he finished his mortal course. He foretold his death on Palm-Sunday, and desiring to die in the arms of his brethren at Compostella, set out from Tuy thither, but, growing worse on the road, returned to the former place on foot; so unwilling was he to remit anything in his penitential life. Luke, the famous bishop of Tuy, his great admirer and friend, attended him to his last breath; buried him honourably in his cathedral, and in his last will gave directions for his own body to be laid near the remains of this servant of God. They are now exposed to public veneration, in the same church, in a magnificent silver shrine, and have been honoured with many miracles. Some place his death on the 15th, and others on the 14th of April, in 1246. Pope Innocent IV. beatified him eight years after in 1254, and granted an office to his Order in Spain, which was extended to the city of Tuy, though he has not been solemnly canonized. Pope Benedict XIV. approved his office for the whole Order of St. Dominick. The Spanish and Portuguese mariners invoke his intercession in storms, and by it have often received sensible marks of the divine succour. They call him corruptly St. Telm, or Elmo, which Papebroke and Baillet derive originally from St. Erasmus, who was implored, anciently, as a patron by sailors, in the Mediterranean

If we look into the lives of all holy preachers and pastors, especially that of our Divine model, the Prince of pastors and Saint of saints, we shall find the essential spirit of this state is that of interior recollection and devotion, by which the soul is constantly united to God. This is only learned by an apprenticeship of retirement, and is founded in rooted habits of humility, compunction and prayer. Great learning is indeed necessary for the discharge of the pastoral duties; but this, and all exterior talents, must be directed and made spiritual by the interior spirit and intention, or they will be pernicious to the pastor, if not also to those whom he ought to direct. For fear of the dangers and abuse of human qualifications, some have chosen in some measure to despise them, hoping thus more securely to find God in solitude, penance, and contemplation. This cannot be allowed to those who are destined to share in pastoral functions. But for such to place any confidence in human industry or abilities would be still a far more fatal disorder. It is from true interior charity, zeal, compunction, devotion, and humility, that they must derive all their power, and be made instrumental in promoting the divine honour, and the sanctification of souls.—The pastor must be interiorly filled with the spirit of God and his pure love, that this holy disposition may animate all he says or does exteriorly. To entertain this interior spirit, self-denial, humility, perfect obedience, a contempt of the world, assiduous prayer, and constant recollection, must be his perpetual study. Those clergymen who pass their lives in dissipation, and whose thoughts and hearts are always wandering abroad, are undoubtedly strangers to the essential spirit of their state.

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73).  Volume IV: April. The Lives of the Saints.  1866.

SOURCE : http://www.bartleby.com/210/4/151.html

Peter Gonzalez, OP (AC)
(also known as Elmo-Erasmus, Telmo)


Born at Astorga, Leon, Spain, c. 1190; died April 14, 1246; beatified by Pope Innocent IV in 1254; cultus approved by Benedict XIV in 1741 for the veneration of the whole Order of Preachers. The patron saint of sailors, especially in Portugal and Spain, is popularly invoked as Saint Elmo or Telmo.

The parents of Peter Gonzales were wealthy and apparently expected their son to become a priest so that he might in time obtain some rank. It was a period in history when this sort of thing was a trial to the Church, and Peter's worldly youth was only one of many examples. He was educated by his uncle, the bishop of Astorga, who invested him with a canonry at Palencia and deanery when he was still quite young.

Full of pride, for a special Bull had been procured so that he might obtain the deanery while he was under age, he resolved to be installed with great pomp, and for his state entry into Astorga chose Christmas Day when the streets were likely to be crowded. He wanted to impress his flock with his fine clothes and vivid personality.

He paraded through the town on horseback, magnificently equipped, but in the noise and excitement the animal reared and threw him upon a dungheap. The Spanish people, who have a fine sense of comedy, responded with loud gusts of laughter. Picking himself up in shame, he cried: "If the world mocks me, henceforth, I will mock the world." Covered with filth and confusion, Peter withdrew to clean up and ponder his sins.

Surprisingly enough, when his wounded feelings had healed, Peter reformed his pointless life and immediately entered the Dominican monastery at Palencia. He was never to forget to weep for his sins, and his life was spent in prayer and penance to offset the wasted years of his youth.

Peter's friends did not allow this to happen without protest. They had been amused by his accident, but not converted by it as he was, and they did their best to talk him into leaving religious life and returning to the luxurious world he had left behind. It was probably a serious temptation to the young man, for it is not easy to reform overnight. But he did not turn back. Instead, he said to his friends, "If you love me, follow me! If you cannot follow me, forget me!" He became, by close application to the rule, one of the shining exemplars of this difficult way of life.

After his studies were completed, Peter entered into his apostolate. It was to take him into places where his worldly background would be a help rather than a hindrance, for he could well understand the temptations and troubles of worldly people. He was first of all a military chaplain with the royal army. He also began to preach in the region. He did not talk about trivia, his sermons drew large crowds. The recitation of the Psalms was his most constant prayer.

The fame of his piety and zeal spread throughout Spain and reached the ears of King Saint Ferdinand of Castile, who sent for him and attached him to his court as chaplain and as his confessor. Appalled by its licentiousness, Gonzales immediately set about reforming it, which so displeased the younger courtiers that they tried to corrupt him; but he was proof against all temptations and won the confidence of the saintly king.

Peter did much to foster the crusade against the Moors. When Ferdinand finally acted, Peter accompanied him on his expedition against the Moors. Upon the capture of Cordova and Seville, Peter used his influence and authority on the side of the vanquished and was instrumental in reducing rape and bloodshed. He also took over the Moorish mosques and converted them into Christian churches.

He was showered with favors by the king, who had the utmost confidence in him. Fearing honors, however, Peter quit the king's service upon his return to Spain. Instead, moved by compassion, he lived among the poor peasants and sought to evangelize them. Although he was met everywhere with ignorance and brutality, his work proved efficacious. He penetrated the wildest and most inaccessible areas, seeking out the peasants in villages and the shepherds in the mountains of the Asturias. His preaching brought about reconciliation between neighbors and between men and God. He gave reassurance to the dismayed and the perplexed.

Most of the anecdotes of his life come from this period, and they have to do with miracles that he worked for these people. At his prayer, storms ceased, droughts were ended, bottles were refilled with wine, bread was found in the wilderness. The bridge that he built across the swift river Minho made his name famous throughout Spain, and it existed up until recent times. During the time he was directing work on this bridge, he used to call the fish to come and be caught; it was a way of helping to feed the workers.

He visited also the seaports of Galicia--boarding ships and preaching on their open decks. He had a great liking for sailors, and is often portrayed in the habit of his Order, holding a blue candle which symbolized Saint Elmo's fire, the blue electrical discharge which sometimes appears in thunder storms at the mast- heads of ships, and which was supposed to be a sign that the vessel was under the saint's protection. (The name of Saint Elmo is of earlier origin. Peter Gonzales, in the popular devotion of the sailors of the Mediterranean, has replaced the name and memory of the older saints associated with the sea, particularly the 4th century Saint Erasmus.)

He retired finally to Tuy in a state of extreme exhaustion. During Lent he preached each day in the cathedral, on Palm Sunday he foretold his death, and on the Sunday after Easter, he died at Santiago de Compostella. Bishop Luke of Tuy, his great admirer and friend, attended him to his last breath and buried him honorably in his cathedral. In his last will, the bishop gave directions for his own body to be laid near Peter's remains, which were placed in a silver shrine and honored with many miracles (Benedictines, Delaney, Dorcy, Encyclopedia, Gill, Husenbeth).

In art, Saint Peter is a Dominican lying on his cloak on hot coals. He may also be portrayed holding fire in his hand or catching fish with his bare hands (Roeder).