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Peter of Alcantara

1499-1562. Spanish ascetic. Nobly born Peter Garavita in Alcántara, he studied at Salamanca and joined the Franciscans in 1515. He was closely linked with the controversial discalced* movement within the order, and because of his association it spread to Italy, Mexico, East Indies, and Brazil. A statue in the Vatican acknowledges him to have been the restorer of the order. Known for the severity of his mortifications, he was honored in the autobiography of St. Teresa of Jesus, whom he encouraged latterly in her Carmelite reform. His authorship of the famous Tratado de la oración y meditación (1556) has been challenged (the book has gone through 175 editions and many translations). Canonized in 1669, he was made patron saint of Brazil in 1826 and named co-patron of Estremadura in 1962.