The Protomartyr of the South Seas, Dt. Peter Chanel was born in Clet in the diocese of Belley, France, in 1803. He became a diocesan priest and in three years completely revitalized the first parish to which he was assigned.
Since his mind was set on missionary work, Peter joined the newly formed Society of Mary (Marists), which concentrated on missionary work at home and abroad. To his dismay, he was appointed to teach at the Seminary of Belley and remained there for the next five years, diligently performing his duty.
In 1836, Peter was sent to the New Hebrides as the superior of a little band of missionaries. After a long and arduous ten-month journey, the band split up, with Peter and two others going to evangelize the island of Futuna.
Once there, Peter and his two assistants made headway in converting the island’s populace, attracting even the son of the King. As a result, the King dispatched a group of warriors to set upon the saintly head of the missionaries.
On April 28, 1841, three years after his arrival, Peter was seized and clubbed to death by those he had come to save. And his death brought his work to completion—within five months the entire island was converted to the Faith. Peter was canonized in 1954 by Pope Pius XII.
PRAYER: God, in order to spread Your Church You crowned St. Peter with martyrdom. Grant that in these paschal joys we may so frequent the mysteries of Christ’s Death and Resurrection as to become witnesses of the new life. Amen.