Born in Ravenna, Italy, in 1007, Peter Damian knew hardship as a child. He became a successful teacher, but only for a short time. He was ordained to the priesthood, and in 1035, he entered a Benedictine monastery. The monks lived in small hermitages, with two monks in each. Peter was known for his fasting, penance, and long hours of prayer. In 1043, he was elected abbot. Peter began reorganizing the rules of the order to return to the original spirit and purpose of the order. Men were drawn to the monastery, and Peter started five other foundations.
In 1057, Peter was made cardinal and bishop of Ostia. Soon he was called upon by the Church to settle disputes, attend synods, and fight abuses. He devoted much energy to helping the clergy, as well as the leaders of the empire. With his letters, biographies, sermons, stories, and poems, he encouraged others to restore discipline to their lives. Through all his diplomatic missions, Peter Damian remained a monk at heart. He served the Church as he was asked, however, and as best he could. He died February 22, 1072, and in 1828, was declared a Doctor of the Church.
Peter Damian taught principles through stories. Have the students write and illustrate stories showing virtues in action.
Invite the students to brainstorm ways to simplify their lives. Here are some suggestions:
Make gifts instead of purchasing them.
Start a vegetable garden and learn about home canning and preserving.
Repair and recycle toys for those in need.
Image credit: Enthroned Mary and St Augustine, St Anne, St Elizabeth, St Peter Damian by Ercole de Roberti, 1481. Public Domain via Wikimedia.