February 23: St Peter Damian OSB, bishop and doctor of the Church, memorial

St Peter Damian (c1007-1072) initially made a career as a secular academic in canon law and theology, but in 1035 he decided to became a monk, and disdaining the Cluniac monasteries as too luxurious, entered a hermitage associated with the Camaldolese reform. 

As a monk he proved a zealous seeker after austerities, wrecking his own health in the process, and introducing new asceticisms into monastic life, particularly the use of the discipline.

He became vigorously engaged in the Church reform movement of the time, denouncing simony and the failure of priests to maintain celibacy in many places.  He was appointed a Cardinal by Benedictine Pope Stephen IX, and served under several of his successors. 

Many of his shorter works were open letters - he wrote to all of the Popes of his day, as well as cardinals, bishops, abbots, and lay people.

Fr Rengers', in his book on doctors of the Church comments that: "He is not so much the philosopher explaining principles at length, but rather the crusader giving practical advice. Today many of St. Peter's "little works" would well be called pamphlets."

Had he lived today, he would surely be a blogger!

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