Saint Peter, formerly a Publican
Commemorated on September 22
formerly a Publican, was the chief collector of taxes in Africa in the
service of the emperor Justinian (527-565). He was a cruel and merciless man.
One day he threw a morsel of bread to a beggar incessantly begging alms. By
night in a dream Peter saw himself as having died and there, – how the holy
Angels weighed his deeds on the scale of the righteous judgement of God. On the
side of good deeds nothing was placed except a morsel of bread, annoyedly
thrown to the beggar, but this halted the opposite side being pulled down by
vicious deeds. Peter pondered the meaning of the dream, and having repented, he
completely changed his life. He liberally distributed alms to the needs, and
fed and clothed many. On day in a dream Peter saw Jesus Christ. The Lord was
dressed in clothes which the saint once gave to a beggar. Peter thereupon
distributed his substance to the poor and ordered his slave to sell him himself
into slavery and to give the money to the poor. The slave carried out the order
of his master. for many years Saint Peter worked diligently and humbly for his
master. One day he was recognised by tradesmen, to whom he had been known
earlier. They told the master who his servant was. Having overheard this
conversation, the saint quickly fled from the city. In departing, he worked a
miracle: the gatekeeper slave, a deaf-mute, received from the righteous Peter
the command to open the gates in the Name of Jesus Christ. He fulfilled the
command and at once had his hearing and speech. He rushed around everywhere to
tell his master and added moreover, that from the mouth of the saint, when he
commanded him to open the gates, fire came forth touching his face, after which
he began to hear and speak. Everyone set out to look for Peter, but the search
proved in vain: the saint hid and until his death remained hidden.
The Vita (Life) of Saint Peter was passed along by Sainted John the Merciful, Patriarch of Alexandria (Comm. 12 November), who in turn knew it from a man personally acquainted with the saint.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.