Peter Donders and the works of mercy


On January 14, the Redemptorist Family celebrates the memorial of Bl. Peter Donders CSsR. We propose a brief reflection about our blessed confrere to mark this occasion.

Peter Donders had a great talent for preaching. Nevertheless, apart from his letters, he has not left us any writings. He was a man of deeds, an example of how to practise the seven classical works of mercy.

From Paramaribo, Peter Donders visited the slaves in the plantations, so far as he was permitted to do so. The lepers, too, who had been brought to remote and initially inaccessible places, did not have the option of residing where they wanted. Returning to the inhabited world was was not open to them. Having started a journey which never let him return to the Netherlands, Peter Donders lived amongst the lepers at Batavia for 27 years.

He helped them to eat and to drink, because this was difficult for people whose fingers were eaten away by leprosy. He engaged in providing better food for those who could no longer produce their own food themselves.

He took care of the sick and helped them to dress.

Peter Donders, who on his arrival in Suriname had been welcomed enthusiastically, negotiated for better housing for the lepers at Batavia. These at first did not have wooden floors in their huts en therefore were often literally sitting in the mud.

He accompanied many of those who died to the graveyard where he too was ultimately to be buried.


Dear and compassionate God
we give You thanks for Peter Donders
who dedicated his life to You
and was of service to all those
who were discriminated or abandoned
because of sickness or for other reasons.
You gave this humble missionary priest
an open heart for all people
regardless of race, color or descent.
Thus he followed in the footsteps
of Jesus Christ, Your Son,
through whom You performed miracles
of goodness amongst us.
Give that today also, people may experience miracles of healing and salvation
through the intercession of blessed Peter Donders and that he may receive recognition as one of your saints
who lives with you through all eternity.

Find more multilingual resources about our blessed Peter Donders

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