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Writer, Theologian, and Doctor of the Church: St. Peter Damian

Each month in 2019, Verbum will be highlighting one saint’s life, work, theology, and impact on the Church. This month’s saint, St. Peter Damian, was a Benedictine monk and Doctor of the Church known for his eloquent preaching and voluminous writing.

Lived: c. 1007–February 21, 1072

Feast Day: February 21

Patronage: Spiritual warfare, Church reformers, and Faenza, Italy

Born into a noble but poor family, Peter Damian overcame early hardships at the hands of his own relatives to reach great success in the academic world. By the age of 25, Peter Damian was already renowned for his piety, intellect, and teachings.

Peter Damian grew discouraged by university scandals and sought the relative solitude of monastic life and joined the Church. Despite his seclusion, Peter Damian became well known for his wisdom and was promoted within its ranks. He was instrumental in settling many disputes within the Church and helped heal the schisms of the day. He was eventually consecrated Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia in 1057.

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Peter Damian was a prolific writer, with his theological thinking perhaps best exemplified in his most famous work, De Divina Omnipotentia, a letter addressing the power of God. He also addressed the rampant problem of a lack of chastity among the clergy in Liber Gomorrhianus (not available in Verbum yet)

After returning to Ravenna where he first began his studies, he died in 1073. Though no formal canonization ever took place, Peter Damian rose to sainthood and was pronounced a Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XII in 1823.

Explore the writings of St. Peter Damian in Peter Damian: Letters 1–30, Peter Damian: Letters 31–60, Peter Damian: Letters 61–90, and Peter Damian: Letters 91–120.

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This post has been updated to acknowledge Damian’s work in Liber Gomorrhianus.

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