Saint Peter of Alcántara

In Arenas de San Pedro, Spain, the natal day Not his birthday but the day he was "born again" into Heaven. of Peter of Alcántara, priest of the Order of Friars Minor and Confessor. Pope Clement IX declared him a saint because of his admirable penitential life and his many miracles. However, his feast is celebrated on the following day. – Roman Martyrology for October 18.

St. Peter of Alcántara is known primarily for his Treatise on Prayer and Meditation, which remains in print to this day, and for his encouragement of St. Teresa of Ávila's reforms.

In the art the saint is often associated with St. Teresa. In this painting the two pray together under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. And the statue in the first picture at right stands to the left of Teresa's central image in an elaborate baroque altarpiece. On the right is her other adviser and champion, St. John of the Cross.

In the images the saint is tonsured and wears his Franciscan habit. He may be holding either a cross, as in the first picture at right, or a pen and book, as in the second. The pen and book refer to his Treatise. In rare cases, such as the third picture, the dove of the Holy Spirit will be above him or at his ear.

Prepared in 2017 by Richard Stracke, Emeritus Professor of English, Augusta University.


St. Peter Alcántara in his tonsure and Franciscan habit. The cross may refer to his espousal of the contemplative life or to his authorship of the Treatise on Prayer and Meditation. (See the description page.)

In this statue, Peter's tonsure has become a bald pate. The long, broad "bib" is a monastic scapular more often seen in images of Capuchins. The book and gesture refer to his talent as a preacher. (See the description page.)

St. Peter Alcántara in a detail from Velazquez, Sacra Conversazione, 1749. (See the description page.)


  • Formerly October 19, changed in 1969 to October 18.