St. Peter Claver was a Jesuit missionary from Spain during the 17th century, who was appalled by the slave trade and the living conditions of the enslaved people.
Unlike many of his own countrymen, Claver saw these people as human beings, not animals, deserving the same respect and dignity that was given to anyone else. He cared deeply about them and the salvation of their souls, believing that each one needed to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
However, he didn’t simply talk about equality, he believed his actions would speak louder than any words. Claver wrote about this topic in one of his letters, explaining the power of his actions.
This was how we spoke to them, not with words but with our hands and our actions. And in fact, convinced as they were that they had been brought here to be eaten, any other language would have proved utterly useless. Then we sat, or rather knelt, beside them and bathed their faces and bodies with wine. We made every effort to encourage them with friendly gestures and displayed in their presence the emotions which somehow naturally tend to hearten the sick.
Not only did he treat each enslaved pers Philip Kosloski on with great dignity and compassion, he also protected them and interceded for them when he saw them being abused. In the 19th-century biography, The life of St. Peter Claver, the author explains the lengths Claver would go for each enslaved person, even offering himself in the slave’s place.
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