St. Peter Paschal or Paschasius was born at Valencia, Spain. When he grew up in years he embraced the ecclesiastical state, which he adorned by his many virtues. St. Peter left his post in 1250 to join the Order of Mercy and he received the habit in the Valencia Cathedral at the hands of Arnaldo of Carcassonne.
His learning and his piety pointed him out as a worthy successor to the Bishop of Jaen, who had a short time previously been called to receive the reward of his labours ; and from the first moment of his promotion to that see he became renowned for his zeal in the redemption of the Christian slaves who were captured by the Moors, and for the conversion of the infidels. So powerful were his words that many of the Mussul mans renounced their errors to embrace the doctrine of Jesus Christ.
The followers of Mahomet were filled with anger when they heard of these things, and while the Bishop was on a visit to Grenada they seized him and cast him into prison. The faithful of Jaen learning that their beloved pastor had been reduced to slavery by these wicked men, collected a considerable sum of money and sent it to the Bishop, that he might thus procure his deliverance. The Saint received their gift with gratitude, but instead of spending it for his own ransom he employed it to procure the freedom of many women and children, whose weakness gave him cause to fear that they might not remain steadfast in the profession of their Religion.
St. Peter continued, therefore, to be a prisoner, and was treated with great cruelty by the infidels because of their hatred for the Christian name. One privilege they, strange to say, granted him that of offering up daily the. Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
One morning during his long imprisonment, when he had made his preparation for saying Mass, during which he had used the discipline to mortify himself in order to obtain from God strength and perseverance for his poor Christian slaves who were so inhumanly treated, he was disappointed at finding no one present to serve it. He went towards the door which led into the prison, to see if there was anyone near who could come to assist him. At that moment Jesus Christ Himself appeared to him under the appearance of a little boy of four or five years of age, clad in the poor garments of a slave, and asked him of what he was in search. “My dear child” replied the Saint, “I am looking for someone who may be able to serve Mass.” “I will gladly do that, my Father, if you will only accept of me.” The Saint, who had never before seen the child, asked him who he was. “I will tell you who I am when you have finished Mass.”
St. Peter Paschal then offered up the Holy Sacrifice with a feeling of great devotion, such as he had never before experienced ; and when he had finished his prayers of thanksgiving he asked the little boy several questions concerning the truths of our holy Faith, to all of which the child gave answers so full of wisdom that the holy man gazed upon him in wonder. Finally he put to him this question : “Tell me, my child, who is Jesus Christ ?” The little boy answered : “I am Jesus Christ ; it is I Who was crucified for your salvation, and for that of the whole world ; look at My hands, and My feet, and My side, and you will recognize the wounds I received during My Passion. Because you have of your own choice remained prisoner, in order that you might procure the freedom of my captive children, and because, to obtain their freedom, you spent the money sent to you to procure your own, you have made Me your prisoner.” Having said these words, the little boy suddenly disappeared, leaving the Saint filled with exceeding great joy.
The Mahometans, revering the sanctity of their prisoner, resolved to grant him his liberty if only he would promise never to write or to say anything against the law of Mahomet. The Saint, desiring to obey God rather than man, refused to agree to this, and continued, as he had always done, to write and to preach against it. The Moors became exceedingly angry, and beheaded him as he knelt at the altar making his thanksgiving after Mass. This took place on the sixth day of January in theyear 1300. vies dcs Saints, Petits Boll., xii. 55
The catechism in examples (1908)
Author: Chisholm, D
Subject: Vol. 5
Publisher: London : Burns Oates & Washbourne ltd
Possible copyright status: NOT_IN_COPYRIGHT
Call number: AKD-5986
Digitizing sponsor: MSN
Book contributor: Regis – University of Toronto
Collection: regislibrary; toronto