SAINTS

APRIL 14: ST. PETER GONZALES

(1190-1246)

Peter Gonzales, also known as St. Elmo or St. Telmo, was born to a Castilian family of nobility.

He was educated by his uncle, the Bishop of Astorga. He was named canon of the local cathedral even though he was very young. While the prideful young man was riding triumphantly into the city, his horse stumbled, dumping him into the mud to the amusement of onlookers. Humbled, the canon reevaluated his vocation and later resigned his position to enter the Dominican Order. González became a renowned preacher; crowds gathered to hear him, and he was responsible for many conversions.

He spent much of his time as a court preacher. After King St. Ferdinand III of Castile and Leon captured Córdoba, Peter was successful in restraining the soldiers from pillaging the city. After retiring from the court, Peter devoted the remainder of his life to preaching in northwest Spain and developed a special mission to Spanish and Portuguese seamen. He died on April 15, 1246, at Tui and is buried in the local cathedral.

Despite his common epithet of “saint,” Peter never was formally canonized. Peter González was beatified in 1254 by Pope Innocent IV. The diminutive “Elmo” (or “Telmo”) belongs properly to the martyr-bishop St. Erasmus (died c. 303), one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, of whose name “Elmo” is a contraction. As Erasmus is the patron saint of sailors generally, and Peter González of Spanish and Portuguese sailors specifically, they have been popularly invoked as “St. Elmo.”

Adapted by A.J. Valentini from: Online, C. (n.d.). Bl. Peter Gonzales – Saints & Angels. Catholic Online. Retrieved April 5, 2021, from https://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=779