Blessed Peter Armengol (1238-1304), a Merdedarian friar who came to serve the Lord later in life, following a misspent and dissolute youth. Having given up the world, he worked tirelessly for the ransom of captives, all the while atoning for his own sins. Blessed Peter Armengol is a model of confidence. His life inspires everyone who, amid the crisis of the modern world, needs special graces from Our Lady to remain completely faithful.
Peter was born in Guadria dels Prats, Tarragona, Spain. Of noble birth, he was related to the Counts of Urgel, and raised in the luxury and lifestyle of nobility. Despite his parents best attempts to raise and educate him piously, Peter was drawn into bad company as a young man, and entered into the life of a bandit. He joined a gang of criminals who, pursued by the authorities, lived in the mountains, preying on the unsuspecting travelers of the region. Soon, Peter became the leader of the gang.
On account of his Peter’s bad behavior, his father, Arnold Armengol de Moncada, moved to the kingdom of Valencia. There, he was employed by King Jaime, and served as an advance ambassador when the monarch traveled. In 1258, the monarch’s travels took him through the region controlled by Peter’s band of ruffians, and father and son found themselves face-to-face, locked in hand-to-hand combat. When Peter realized who he was attempting to rob, he was overcome by grief, and fell at his father’s feet, begging for forgiveness and mercy. The Lord changed his heart that day, and Peter resolved to change his life.
Wishing nothing more than to journey to Africa and be imprisoned so that others might go free, Peter was eventually sent to that continent. On his first visit, he successfully ransomed 119 captives without any incident. However, before departing, Friar Peter learned of a prison with 18 children who, impelled by the threats of punishments of the barbarous Mohammedans, remained in danger of denying the Faith. The religious happily offered himself as hostage for the ransom of the innocent captives. His release was promised in exchange for a stipulated sum. But, if the payment did not arrive within the set time, he would suffer harsh punishments. Peter, especially devoted to the Blessed Virgin, maintained complete confidence that he would be provided for. The children were freed, and he took their place in prison.
The execution was carried out and Peter’s body was left hanging from the gallows, as the custom was for birds of prey to feed on the corpses of those who were killed. Six days had elapsed when the Mercedarian emissary arrived with the required ransom money. Learning that he was too late, the emissary went with great sorrow, in the company of some captives, to see the lamentable sight. Reaching the site of the execution, he noticed that the body did not emit a bad odor, but rather exhaled a heavenly fragrance. To their astonishment, Friar Armengol spoke, telling them that the Blessed Mother saved his life.
“The Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our own mother, asked her Most Holy Son to conserve my life; having obtained this favor, this same sovereign Queen sustained me with her most holy hands, so that the weight of my body would not hang upon the rope by which I was suspended.”
Blessed Peter suffered a twisted neck and pale complexion from his hanging, for the remainder of his life. While these afflictions caused him pain and suffering, he nonetheless retained his cheerful, humble, and charitable disposition. He retired to the monastery of Our Lady de los Prados, where he lived for his remaining 40 years, in constant communion with Our Blessed Mother and the Lord. There he was buried, and his relics are venerated still today. He is considered a martyr by the Church, given his profound willingness to suffer and die for his faith.
Recalling the miracle of his hanging, he frequently told the religious of the monastery of this marvel: “Believe me, my dear brothers, that I do not believe myself to have lived except for those few but most happy days when, hanging from the gallows, I was held to be dead.”
Year 2: Day 117 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Perfect confidence in the Lord
Requested Intentions: Freedom from addiction (J); Successful transplant surgery (K); Healing for a daughter (T); Acceptance into school (V); Successful immigration; for a sister’s career and marriage (F); Financial recovery; Successful ministry (A); Financial ability to send children to school (S); Safe return of a runaway (J); Healing of a family (J); Reconciliation of marriage (S); Healing of a daughter with congenital heart disease (F); Healing and an end to suffering (J); For the children (M); For a son fighting a rare immune system disease (R); Freedom from imprisonment (J); Employment and end to depression (H); Successful employment (A); Health for a soon to be delivered baby (T); Financial security (L); Healing of tooth pain (A); Health of expectant mother and child (R); Purification of the souls in Purgatory (A); Guidance in studies (J); Healing and security for a displaced family (C); Healing of high blood pressure; Recovery of brother following surgery (A); For a sister in trouble, that she may make better decisions in the light of Christ (M); Health of expectant mother and child (R); Attainment of funds for surgery (J).
Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?
Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."
To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."
As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."