• 24 Sep 20

Sep 24 - “St. Peter the Aleut” © icon by Br. Robert Lentz, OFM. Happy Feast Day St. Peter!

Peter was born on Kodiak Island in the late 1700's.  He was baptized by St. Herman, a Russian Orthodox monk who lived nearby on Spruce Island as a hermit.  He accompanied Russian fur trappers to northern California, where he hunted seals and sea otters with them along the Pacific coast, an area claimed by both Russia and Spain.

In 1815, Spanish soldiers captured Peter while he was hunting in his kayak south of San Francisco.  When he refused to be re-baptized as a Roman Catholic, he was so severely abused physically that he died that same night.  When word reached the Franciscan friars at the nearby mission, they sent word that the soldiers should release the rest of the Orthodox Indians.  Peter was buried in unconsecrated ground near Mission Dolores, probably under what is now the asphalt playground of the parochial school.

He was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church several decades ago and is now considered one of the patrons of San Francisco.  In this icon a raven sits on his arm, representing his Native heritage before his baptism.  That same arm points to a Russian cross, which is a symbol of the new religion he freely chose to embrace.  It is also a martyr's cross, however, thanks to the fanaticism of Catholic soldiers.