Peter Claver, a Jesuit missionary, born in Catalonia in 1582, died in Cartagena, New Granada, Sept. 8, 1654. He entered the society of Jesus at Tarragona in 1602, and in 1610, at his own urgent solicitation, was sent to Cartagena, at that time the centre of the African slave trade. Soon afterward he was ordained priest, and thenceforward all his energies were given to the labor of visiting the slave ships on their arrival in the harbor, of instructing the negroes in the large sheds erected for them on shore, of securing them proper care when sick, and of obtaining for them humane and Christian treatment from their owners. He was allowed, on making his solemn religious profession, to sign himself "the slave of the negroes for ever;" and from that moment he lived among them on shipboard or in the hospitals, in the leprosy hospitals especially, ministering to their every want, and eating nothing but the refuse of their food. He organized a body of catechists, who aided him in instructing the slave population. A few years before his death his exertions to mitigate the horrors of the plague in Cartagena resulted in extreme exhaustion and paralysis.
On Sept. 4, 1747, Benedict XIV. declared his virtues heroic, and he was beatified in 1852 by Pius IX. His feast is celebrated on Sept. 9. His life was written in Spanish by Suarez, and in French by Fleuriau (Paris, 1751).