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Lives of the Saints

St. Peter of Montenegro
Commemorated October 18

In the Montenegran village of Njegusi was born a saint in the year 1747. The young Peter was tonsured a monk and ordained a deacon when only seventeen. The next year he traveled to Russia with his uncle, Bishop Vasilije, for studies. But after only one year the death of the Bishop motivated his return to Montenegro, where be was ordained to the priesthood and, as Archimandrite, assisted Metropolitan Sava in administering the diocese until the latter's repose in 1781. Now began the life-work of the Saint, as be was chosen to succeed Metropolitan Sava, a position that included secular sovereignty over the Montenegran Serbs.

For fifty years he labored to fulfill his secular and spiritual rule with a single ideal: to bring the quarreling clans and tribes to peace and to help them, find their unity as a people. Through discipline and work for the common good, rather than private gain - standards new to these Serbs - St. Peter helped his people rise above their feuds at a critical time in their history. He courageously waged war against Napoleon and, with daring far sightedness, charted the course of Serbian unification in their first uprising against the Turks.

During these times St. Peter continued his interrupted studies, reading in French, Italian and Russian to increase his knowledge of Orthodoxy and the world, its culture and sciences. And still this Metropolitan and Sovereign lived as a simple monk, shut up in a little cell and given over to fasting, prayer, and ascetic struggles. By his active good works, one can sense how he must have passed the hours of his monastic seclusion: only inspired faith and love, purity and meekness can give birth to such peace as St. Peter's life contributed to his entire nation. He ruled like an apostle, constantly seeking love and peace, and never troubling his conscience by sentencing a miscreant to death. He pacified a stubborn, primitive and unruly people who had refused to bow to the mightiest powers on earth.

On October 18 (o.s.), 1830, the Metropolitan and ruler of Cetinje and all Montenegro, Peter, died quietly in old age. Having succeeded his uncle, he was now succeeded by his nephew, the bishop-poet Peter II (Njegos), who continued local devotion to the Saint, uncovering his intact and myrrh streaming relics in 1834. Having once suffered with his people, St. Peter now consoled them, for from his relics flowed that same paternal love which he carried within him during his life.

In a fitting testimony to the efficacy of St. Peter' s tireless efforts to retain and strengthen the common spiritual essence of the Serbs, they now honor him with one accord as their protector, giving to the whole Orthodox Church a strong and fatherly intercessor.

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