St. Peter Paschasius
Memorial: December 6
Patron of Mercedarian students, and an early defender of the Immaculate Conception
St. Peter Paschasius was born in Valencia around the year 1227, to a family of Mozarabic Christians. According to Mercedarian tradition, his family had ties of friendship with Peter Nolasco and sheltered him during his redemptive visits to the city. From his childhood, he felt inclined to the ecclesiastical state, and for this reason, he began his studies in the cathedral school of his native city. He continued his studies in Paris, where he was ordained in 1249. He belonged to the chapter of the Cathedral in Valencia. In 1250, he received the Mercedarian habit in Valencia from the hands of Fr. Arnaldo de Carcasona and dedicated himself with determination to the ransom of captives.
Pope Boniface VIII appointed him Bishop of Jaén in 1296, and he was consecrated in the Basilica of Saint Bartholomew, on the island in the middle of the Tiber River in Rome. He dedicated his whole life to showing, with his knowledge, the way of truth, which is Christ. As bishop, he proved to be a true shepherd of his flock. While he was making a pastoral visit to his diocese in 1297, he was captured by the Saracens and taken captive. He died by decapitation in Granada on December 6, 1300, as the cathedral canon of Jaén related to the Archbishop of Toledo in March of 1301.
Over the course of his life, Peter Paschasius wrote various works of theology. But it was during his captivity in Granada where, in order to nourish and defend the faith of the Christians, he composed his most principal works of apologetics, outstanding among them being: Refutation of the Sect of Mohammed, Explanation of the Ten Commandments, and Disputation with the Little Bible.
The whole Order of Mercy and various dioceses in Spain rendered public honor to St. Peter Paschasius as a martyr after his glorious death, until Clement X, by his Decree Ecclesiae Catholic regimini, confirmed his immemorial cult on August 14, 1670. The same Pope included his name in the Roman Martyrology on September 8, 1675.
He is invoked mainly as the patron of Mercedarian students.