‘Another Rock'

St. Peter Chanel

Feast Day: April 28

Peter Louis Mary Chanel was born on July 12, 1803, in Ciet in the Diocese of Belley, France. His was a poor peasant family. Because Peter was intelligent and devout, the local priest, Father Trompier, ensured that Peter  received a good education. He entered the seminary and was ordained in 1827.

During his first three years of priesthood, Peter was assigned to a rundown parish in Crozet. He worked hard to rebuild it and to revitalize its people. Although he was a successful parish priest, his heart was set on missionary work.

Peter joined the newly formed Society of Mary (the Marists) in 1831, hoping that he could finally realize his dream of becoming a missionary. Instead, he was ordered to teach in a seminary in Belley. Obediently, he taught there for five years.

In 1836, the Society of Mary set out to evangelize the New Hebrides islands in the Pacific. Peter became head of a small missionary group that travelled to the island of Futuna. The king became jealous of Peter’s conversions, fearing they would diminish his own power, and he ordered Peter beaten to death. St. Peter Chanel is the proto-martyr of the South Pacific.