St. Peter Chanel
April 28, Saint


Born to a peasant family, he was a shepherd as a boy. An excellent student. Ordained in 1827 at age 24. He was assigned to Crozet, a parish in decline; he turned it around, in part because of his ministry to the sick, and brought a spiritual revival. Joined the Society of Mary (Marist Fathers) in 1831. Taught at the Belley seminary for five years. Led a band of missionaries to the New Hebrides in 1836, an area where cannabilism had only recently been outlawed; he was the first Christian missionary on the island of Fortuna. He converted many, often as a result of his work with the sick. He learned the local language, and taught in the local school. Killed by order of Niuliki, a native priest-king who was jealous of Peter’s influence; the king’s own son and daughter had become Christians. First martyr in Oceania.

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