February 21

Peter Damian (1007-1072) monk and pastor

Today the Roman and Ambrosian calendars commemorate Peter Damian, a hermit and bishop who lived in the eleventh century.
Peter was born in Ravenna, Italy, in 1007. He lost his parents while he was still young, but was able to receive a classical education in Faenza and Parma with the help of his brother Damian. As a gesture of gratitude he added his brother's name to his own.
He grew up surrounded by the enthusiasm for the eremitical life that the figure of Romuald had inspired, and when he was almost thirty years old he entered the hermitage of Fonte Avellana. Later, he became prior and wrote a rule for the community. During the years he spent at Fonte Avellana, he also wrote the Vita beati Romualdi, a document of fundamental importance for our understanding of eleventh-century monastic ideals.
A man of extraordinary vigor, tending to the extreme in all that he did, Peter Damian managed to reconcile in his own existence a passion for the solitary life, of which he is perhaps the West's most convinced theorist, with an ecclesiastical and political career that took him all over Europe and led him to act as peacemaker in difficult situations involving popes, bishops, monks, and rulers of every kind.