Saint Peter, formerly a Publican

Commemorated on September 22

      Saint Peter, 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.