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Faenza, Italy: Faenza Cathedral & the Tomb of Saint Peter Damian

About Saint Peter Damian:

Born in 1007 in poverty, Peter was orphaned at an early age.  He had two older brothers:  one neglected him and treated him badly; but by his other brother, who was archpriest of Ravenna, took him under his wing and sent him to good schools.  Peter went on to became a professor.

Peter was very strict with himself. He wore a hair shirt under his clothes, fasted rigorously and spent many hours in prayer. Soon, he decided to leave his teaching position  and give himself completely to prayer with the Benedictines of the reform of Saint Romuald at Fonte Avellana. They lived two monks to a hermitage. Peter was so eager to pray and slept so little that he soon suffered from severe insomnia. He found he had to use some prudence in taking care of himself. When he was not praying, he studied the Bible.

Maybe because he was orphaned and had been treated shabbily by one of his brothers, Peter Damian was very good to the poor. It was the ordinary thing for him to have a poor person or two with him at table and he liked to minister personally to their needs.

The abbot commanded that when he died Peter should succeed him. Abbot Peter went on to found five other hermitages. He encouraged his brothers in a life of prayer and solitude and wanted nothing more for himself. The Holy See periodically called on him, however, to be a peacemaker or troubleshooter, whether between two abbeys in a dispute or a cleric or government official in some disagreement with Rome.

Finally, Pope Stephen IX made Peter the cardinal-bishop of Ostia. He worked hard to wipe out simony—the buying of church offices–and encouraged his priests to observe celibacy and urged even the diocesan clergy to live together and maintain scheduled prayer and religious observance. He wished to restore primitive discipline among religious and priests, warning against needless travel, violations of poverty, and too comfortable living. He even wrote to the bishop of Besancon complaining that the canons there sat down when they were singing the psalms in the Divine Office.

He wrote many letters, 170 of which we still have. We also have 53 of his sermons and seven lives, or biographies, that he wrote. He preferred examples and stories rather than theory in his writings.

He asked often to be allowed to retire as cardinal-bishop of Ostia, and finally Pope Alexander II consented. Peter was happy to become once again just a monk, but he was still called to serve as a papal legate. When returning from such an assignment in Ravenna, he was overcome by a fever. With the monks gathered around him saying the Divine Office, he died on February 22, 1072.

In 1828, he was declared a Doctor of the ChurchWe celebrate the Feast of Saint Peter Damian on February 21.

About the tomb of Saint Peter Damian:

Since 1898, Peter Damian has rested in a chapel dedicated to him in the cathedral of Saint Peter the Apostle in Faenza.

Address:  Piazza della Libertà, 48018 Faenza RA, Italy

Tel:  +39 0546 664510

E-mail: curia@diocesifaenza.it

Click here for the official website of the Cathedral of Faenza.

Traveling to Faenza:

Faenza can be an easy day trip from Bologna…….a short 40-minute train ride.  

Get train & bus schedules, fares, buy tickets here.


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