He was born in Verdu, Catolonia, Spain in 1581. In 1610 as a young man he sailed to Cartagena, now Columbia to be a missionary and was ordained a Jesuit priest in 1615. Cartagena was a rich port and a centre for the slave trade. Although the slave trade had been condemned by Pope Paul III and by Pope Pius IX, it unfortunately continued to flourish.
St Peter Claver continued Fr Alfonso de Sandoval pastoral work among the black slaves, declaring himself the slave of the slaves. As soon as a ship sailed into the Port, St Peter Claver brought medicines, food and ministered to the slaves who were treated with total disdain. He showed them compassion and treated them with the dignity and respect which was due to them as human beings. The magistrates frowned at his solicitude to the slaves.
St Peter Claver also preached in the city square and gave missions to sailors and traders. He died after 4 years of sickness on the 8th of September 1654. Pope Leo XIII canonised him in 1888. St Peter Claver often said “We must speak to them with our hands before we try to speak to them with our lips”.