St. Peter of Damascus Syria, 750
Our holy father among the Saints, Peter of Damascus was the Bishop of Damascus, Syria, at the time of the Islamic conquest of that region. He studied and debated the teachings of the new religion in an effort to refute the false teachings of Islam. He was faithful to the Gospel and taught his people to avoid the heretical teachings of Mohammed. A prolific writer, St. Peter contributed several important treatises on Christian virtue and spirituality.
Throughout his writings St. Peter’s emphasis ison God’s mercy and our thankfulness, he teaches; “God has done all things for our benefit. We are guarded and taught by the angels; we are tempted by the demons so that we may be humbled and have recourse to God, thus being saved from self-elation and delivered from negligence.
On the one hand, we are led to give thanks to our Benefactor through the good things of this world, by which I mean health, prosperity, strength, rest, joy, light, spiritual knowledge, riches, progress in all things, a peaceful life, the enjoyment of honors, authority, abundance and all the other supposed blessings of this life.
We are led to love Him and to do what good we can, because we feel we have a natural obligation to repay God for His gifts to us by performing good works. It is of course impossible to repay Him, for our debt always grows larger.
On the other hand, through what are regarded as hardships we attain a state of patience, humility and hope of blessings in the age to be; and by these so-called hardships I mean such things as illness, discomfort, tribulation, weakness, unsought distress, darkness, ignorance, poverty, general misfortune, the fear of loss, dishonor, affliction, indigence, and so on.Indeed, not only in the age to be, but even in this present age these things are a source of great blessing to us.”
Because of his preaching, Bishop Peter was seized by the Mohammedans and condemned to death. His captors tortured, blinded, crucified, and finally beheaded him. He gave his life for the love of Jesus Christ in the year of Our Lord 750. Today, the region where St. Peter lived and taught is engulfed in a brutal conflict that includes the violent persecution of Christians, many of whom have suffered the same fate as this beloved bishop and Saint. We ask him to protect and guard his beloved flock. Through the steadfast intercessions of St. Peter of Damascus, may Christ our God have mercy on us and save us. Amen.