Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Gangster Saint

April 27th is the Feast day of St. Peter Armengol. This fascinating saint, whose life story is the stuff Hollywood is made of, went from gangster and sinner to a man of deep, unwavering faith with a fierce devotion to the Blessed Mother.
Born into wealthy, Spanish nobility, he gave himself over to a life of vice. Does St. Augustine come to mind? As a gang leader he terrorized, robbed and killed travellers in the Pyrenees region, until the day he came face-to-face in combat with his own father. Filled with shame, the repentant youth retired to a monastery in Barcelona and gave his life to God.
His greatest desire was to go to Africa and become a captive for the ransom of Christians. After ransoming 119 captives without incident, he learned of 18 innocent children held captive by the Moors. Unable to allow such an atrocity, Friar Peter offered himself as hostage. After being starved and tortured, the Moors accused him of blaspheming Mohammed and being a spy sent by the Christian kings, thus raising their ire. He was condemned to be hanged. The unjust execution was carried out and St. Peter’s body was left hanging from the gallows for six days! His unselfish act of love for the children touched the heart of Our Blessed Mother and she interceded for him to her Son. Her request was granted, and Friar Peter was saved.
When he returned to Barcelona, the man of God told his superior, “The Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our own mother, asked her Most Holy Son to conserve my life; having obtained this favour, this same sovereign Queen sustained me with her most holy hands, so that the weight of my body would not hang upon the rope by which I was suspended.”
Recalling the miracle of his hanging, he frequently told the religious of the monastery of this marvel: “Believe me, my dear brothers, that I do not believe myself to have lived except for those few but most happy days when, hanging from the gallows, I was held to be dead.”
For the rest of his life, Friar Armengol had a twisted neck and a pale completion, authentic signs of what had taken place. He retired to the monastery of Our Lady de los Prados, where he practiced heroic virtue and spent his days in familiar conversation with the Queen of Angels, whom he loved dearly.
In our times of profound moral crisis, let us ask Saint Armengol to obtain for us before the throne of God, graces of unbending fidelity, unwavering hope and heroic confidence in the powerful intercession of Our Lady. (retold from the website below)
visit The American Society For The Defense Of Tradition, Family & Property for the complete story of this remarkable saint, Peter Armengol.
Pin It


  1. What a great story Nanette! I had never heard of St. Peter Armengol before. Thanks for posting this! Happy Easter!

  2. Thanks, Cassi & Anne for your comments. I thought this St. was very interesting, too. How wonderful to be reminded that no one is "lost" in the eyes of God. A blessed Easter season to you both. Come back and say hi soon. N

  3. Nanette, I must say this is a new saint to me and boy what a conversion he experienced. He listened to God's call and did remarkable thing - sacrificed himself for those children. Amazing love and obedience indeed! Thanks for the info!

  4. delightful to have you visit my blog, again. This saint was such a "regular" guy much like our St. Augustine. The bad-boy turned good. What a wonderful story to unearth. I love so many of our great saints, but will admit that some are hard acts to follow...this saint I can relate to! Perhaps, by God's grace, I could sacrifice my life for a noble cause. On my own, not so sure. Please come visit me, again. Hugs. N