by Aristide M. Serra, OSM
Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D.
To understand the Servites is to understand St. Peregrine who died over six hundred and fifty years ago. Peregrine was a friar of the Order of Servants of Mary, he lived in Forli between 1265 and 1345. Civil and/or ecclesiastical documents of the period do not speak of him. What we do know about him comes from a brief biographical sketch drawn up by one of his confreres shortly after his death. There is nothing more. On the other hand, from the time of his death, Peregrine became a worker of miracles. Even as his body lay in the Church of the Servites for his funeral, there was a steady flow of people who came to invoke his intercession. Miracles happened and I shall describe them shortly.
Peregrine was so modest and unpretentious, that, by contrast, devotion to him was extraordinary in Italy and throughout Europe. At the end of the nineteenth century when the Servants of Mary emigrated to North America, and again in the twentieth century when they went to South America, Australia and South Africa, devotion to St. Peregrine went with them. In the last decade of the twentieth century, with the arrival of the Servites in the Philippine Islands, his reputation. Which was already known there through the work of devoted lay groups, became even more widespread around Manila. Everywhere St. Peregrine is invoked as a protector against cancer. With St. Peregrine, as with all the saints, the fundamental reason for his popularity is that we believe that the living presence of the Risen Christ is with us still and is seen in the miracles worked through the intercession of his saints.
This book tries to respond to this question in a style which is both factual and popular. The information provided is drawn from the most recent scholarly research properly acknowledged in the endnotes. From this text we can see St. Peregrine’s intimacy with Jesus, his devotion to Mary, his simple and humble heart and his constant reaching out to those in need. The iconic plates in the back of the book bring us to prayer and study. It is a very comforting and carefully written book.