Peregrine Laziosi was born in Italy about 1256. He grew up in a society torn by civil disturbance and violence, and as a young man Peregrine took an active part in the disturbance.
A turning point in his life was his meeting with St. Philip Benizi, then Prior General of the Servite Order of mendicant friars. Philip had come to the city of Florence to act as a peace maker but found himself attacked by a gang of young men. He was beaten up and driven out of the city by the mob, among whom was Peregrine, then about eighteen years of age. Philip’s response was prayer and forgiveness. This touched the heart of Peregrine and influenced his decision to live a life of penance and service in honour of Our Lady.
Shortly afterwards Peregrine asked to enter the Servite community. He was accepted as a choir brother.
Peregrine’s life was an example of self discipline together with a great love for the poor of the neighbourhood. But in time all this was threatened, as was life itself, by a growing infection in his right leg. So serious did it become that the doctors eventually decided to amputate the limb.
The night before the operation, Peregrine prayed before the image of Christ on the Cross. He fell asleep and in a dream seemed to see Jesus coming down from the cross and curing him. When Peregrine awoke, he found his leg completely healed.
Since that time, because of many miracles worked through his intercession both before and after his death, Peregrine has been known as the “Wonderworker”, and as a powerful patron for the cure of malignant growths.
Peregrine was canonized on December 27th 1726, together with St. John of the Cross. His feast day is kept on May 4th. Devotion to him has since spread throughout the world; many people have been cured, and many more granted great peace through his wonderful intercession with the Risen Lord.