He was born in Forli, Italy around 1265. At the time, Forli was governed by the Pope as part of the Papal States. Peregrine grew up in a family which was actively involved in the opposition or anti-papal party. Forli was a stronghold of anti-papal party activism. Because of this anti-papal political activity, the city was under the church penalty of interdict. This meant that Mass and the Sacraments could not be celebrated in the city. St. Philip Benizi, the Prior General of the Servants of Mary was sent to Forli to preach the reconciliation of the city and the removal of the penalty. Young Peregrine was so intense in his political fervor that he heckled Philip during the preaching and at one point Peregrine struck St. Philip.
The moment of striking St. Philip seemed to drastically change Peregrine. He began to channel his energies into good works and eventually he joined the Servants of Mary and pronounced his vows in the Servite Priory in Siena, Italy. He was about 30 years old. Peregrine then returned to Forli, where he spent the rest of his life. The best information indicates that he was not a priest, but a choir brother, who undertook an apostolate among the people of Forli. He especially dedicated himself to the sick, the poor and the fringe people of society. He also imposed a special penance on himself-to stand whenever it was not necessary to sit. This led to varicose veins. The varicose veins deteriorated into an open, running sore on his leg. The open, running sore was diagnosed as cancer. The wound became so obvious, odorous and painful that the local surgeon scheduled surgery to amputate the leg.
Suddenly Peregrine was confronted with the ugliness and suffering of his own life. He had given himself to people in similar situations and then found he must lean on his own faith in the goodness of God. The night before the operation he prayed before the image of the crucified Christ in the priory chapter room. At the age of 60 he was challenged to carry a new and more difficult cross. His prayer led him into a deep trance-like sleep during which he envisioned the crucified Christ leaving the cross and touching his cancerous leg. When Peregrine awakened from the trance of prayer, he discovered the wound healed and the leg saved.
St. Peregrine lived 20 more years. He died on May 1, 1345 at the age of 80. He was canonized on December 27, 1726. He has been named the Patron Saint for those who suffer from cancer. The people of Forli chose him to be the Patron Saint of their city. His feast day is celebrated on May 4.
O great St. Peregrine, you have been called "The Mighty",
the "The Wonder Worker" because of the numerous miracles which you obtained from
God for those who have turned to you in their need.
For so many years you bore in your own flesh this cancerous disease that destroys the very fiber of our being.
You turned to God when the power of human beings could do no more,
and you were favored with the vision of Jesus coming down from His cross
to heal your affliction.
I now ask God to heal these sick persons whom I entrust to you:
(Here mention their names)
Aided by your powerful intercession, I shall sing with Mary a hymn of gratitude
to God for His great goodness and mercy. Amen.
For more information on devotion to St. Peregrine, to obtain a prayer-card of St. Peregrine, or to request a copy of the St. Peregrine Newsletter please write:
National Shrine of St. Peregrine
3121 West Jackson Boulevard
Chicago, IL 60612-2729
P.O. Box 20008
Portland, OR 97294-0008
Each week Mass is said for the many intentions received at the National Shrine of St. Peregrine. You can have you petitions remembered in this Mass by writing the Shrine Director in Chicago or by sending an e-mail to National Shrine of St. Peregrine.
Work of God Apostolate
St Peregrine - Cancer saint