Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Second Century Saint is Buried In Collegeville

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Just north [How 'bout West???] of St. Cloud, Minn., there is something resting underneath a church that is even rarer than the relics of the departed saints that line the walls.

The black robed brothers of St. Benedict are one of the oldest orders of Catholic monks.

"Benedictines are rooted in history," said Br. Richard Oliver with St. John's Abbey. "We've been in one place for centuries at a time and so we sort of watch history go by around us. We keep an eye on it."

At St. John's Abbey, in Collegeville, Minn., people want to know about what is downstairs. Covered with silk and silver is the body of an actual saint, dating back to the year 192.

"To have such an ancient relic from the second century in a church in Minnesota ... I think it is probably extraordinary," Oliver said.

St. Peregrine was a young Christian during the time of the Roman Empire, when it was required to worship the emperor.

"This was impossible for Christians to do that, to offer that kind of worship to a human being," said Oliver.

Peregrine and other Christians spoke out. As a boy, he followed the example of his elders, but he got caught up in the net of rounding up the usual suspects. He was persecuted, tortured and eventually flogged to death.

A martyr and saint, he was believed to be just 15-years-old when he was killed.

"The truth is that this person gave their life for Jesus Christ," Oliver said.

In the 16th century, Peregrine's body was moved to Germany. In 1854, while still in Germany, his body survived a fire that destroyed a church.

"And then after the fire, the relics were sort of without a home," Oliver said.

A year later, a monk from St. John's was traveling in Germany and asked that the relics of St. Peregrine be moved to the Untied States. The relics spent 30 years in New York City, N.Y. In 1928, the relics were moved to St. John's.

"We're lucky to have St. Peregrine on our side," Oliver said.

Nearly 2,000 years later, a young boy's sacrifice continues to inspire.

"And that is the truth of the story," Oliver said. WCCO
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