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A Century of Promoting Saint Peter Claver and Catholicism to African Americans: Claverian Historiography from 1868-1965

Nicole Von Germeten


During the 1600s, the man who was later canonized as Saint Peter Claver worked to catechize and baptize African slaves arriving in the port of Cartagena (now on Colombia's Caribbean coast), carrying out the fundamental Jesuit task of "fishing for souls." This article will trace a century of Claverian bibliography, highlighting the permutations of the Catholic Church's promotion of this saint to African Americans as well as the surprising groundswell of devotion to this saint among African American Catholics to the present day, including as the patron of the lay organization the Knights of Peter Claver. The wide variety of works written about Peter Claver demonstrates the diverse roles possible for a historic figure transformed into a saint.

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