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Peter Claver

1580-1654. Jesuit missionary. Born in Verdu, Spain, he entered the order in 1602. Three years later at Mallorca, Alphonso Rodriquez encouraged him to become a missioner. Until 1610 Claver studied at Barcelona, whence he went to Cartagena, Colombia. There Alonso de Sandoval deeply impressed on him the misery of African slaves. In 1616 Claver went to Bogota, where he was ordained, and on his return to Cartagena did much to alleviate the misery of those in the disease-ridden slave ships. He befriended them as a doctor and teacher. Valtierra considers that by 1615 more than 300,000 had been converted. Pope Urban VIII condemned slavery in a bull of 1639.

Claver died at Cartagena. He was part of a small band like Sandoval and Bartolome de Las Casas who protested the inhumanity of European expansion in the New World. Claver was canonized in 1888, and in 1896 became the patron of all Catholic missionary activity among Negroes.

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