On May 13, Franciscans celebrate the memory of a lesser-known Spanish friar saint, Pedro Regalado (Peter Regulatus) (1390–1456), who devoted his life to prayer and contemplation.
Peter was born in Valladolid, Castile, to a noble family of Jewish origin that had converted to Christianity. His father died when he was an infant, and his devout mother allowed him to enter the Franciscan friary in his native city when he was only thirteen. In 1404 he was inspired by a friar, Pedro de Villacreces, who was trying to revive the eremitical dimension of the life of the early friars, and he joined him at the remote rural friary of La Aguilera near Burgos. There Peter found the solitude, prayer, and poverty he longed for.
The hermitage of La Aguilera, near Burgos, Spain
The friars in this reform movement led a very simple, highly contemplative— almost Carthusian—lifestyle. Their motto was “pray devoutly, meditate in holiness, contemplate loftily” (a classic monastic triad). The friars spent about 12 hours each day in prayer, between celebrating the Liturgy of the Hours, with additional time for spiritual reading and private meditation. They maintained silence throughout the day; when not in prayer the friars engaged in manual tasks.
Peter succeeded Villacreces as guardian of La Aguilera in 1422. His life was highly austere: he fasted almost all of the year from meat and dairy products, and his poverty was extreme, but he was a warm person, noted for his compassionate care for his brothers and his generosity to the poor of the area.
Peter was able to arrange a small hermit’s cell in the garden of the friary where he could find even more privacy for prayer. His devotion was intense, and he was often moved to tears. Peter died at La Aguilera in 1456. Many miracles occurred after his death, so his body was moved to the church there for veneration. He was canonized in 1746.
Shrine to St. Pedro Regalado, La Aguilera
Main image: St. Peter Regulatus, 17th-century Spanish painting, Museo del Prado, Madrid
Dominic V. Monti, OFM, is a Franciscan Friar of Holy Name Province (USA) and currently professor of Franciscan Research in the Franciscan Institute of St. Bonaventure University. He devoted the greater part of his ministry to teaching the History of Christianity, in particular the history of the Franciscan movement. He has contributed two volumes to the Works of St. Bonaventure series and is author of Francis & His Brothers, a popular history of the Friars Minor.