Saint Peter Thomas
Carmelite, Bishop and Patriarch
Feast Day: 8 January

Who was St Peter Thomas?

Reading for his Feast

Ecumenism and Carmel

St Peter Thomas' message for the 21st Century


Further Reading

Who was St Peter Thomas?
A brief biography

The life of Peter Thomas (Thomas is perhaps a surname) is complex and fascinating, marked by extraordinary achievement. Born into a  very poor family in
the hamlet of Salles, Perigord, southern France, about 1305, he left home and sought education, supporting himself by teaching others. At an early age he came into contact with the Carmelites, and his abilities led them gladly to admit him into their noviceship at Condom at the age of twenty-one.
He continued study, taught theology, and in 1342 he was made procurator general of the order. This appointment led to his taking up his abode in Avignon, then the residence of the popes, and also indicated that in spite of high spiritual ideals he was known to be pre-eminently a man of affairs. His remarkable eloquence became known by several Popes, and he was asked to deliver the funeral oration of Clement VI. It may be said that from that time forth, although he always retained the simplicity of a friar, his life was entirely spent in difficult negotiations as the representative of the Holy See.
In his life he always felt the help of the Virgin Mary. Legend has it that Peter Thomas had a vision of Mary who told him: "Be assured Peter that the Order of Carmelites will persevere until the end of time. Elijah has begged this of my Son." These words are inscribed in Latin beneath the stained glass window of St Peter Thomas in our monastery here at Kilmacud Carmel (see right).

He was appointed papal legate and diplomat on many missions, spending his energies mainly on seeking reunion with Christians separated from Rome. He was sent as papal legate to negotiate with Genoa, Milan and Venice; in 1354 he was consecrated bishop and represented the pope at Milan when the Emperor Charles IV was crowned king of Italy. Thence he proceeded to Serbia, and afterwards was charged with a mission to smooth the difficulties between Venice and Hungary; going on to Constantinople he was instructed to make another effort to reconcile the Byzantine church with the West.

What is most surprising in our days is that Innocent VI and Urban V seem to have placed Peter Thomas virtually in command of expeditions which were distinctly military in character. He was sent to Constantinople in 1359 with a large contingent of troops and contributions in money, himself holding the title of "Universal Legate to the Eastern Church". He was named Archbishop of Crete in 1363 and Patriarch of Constantinople a year later; and when in 1365 an expeditionary force was sent to make an attack on infidel Alexandria, again he had virtual direction of the enterprise. The expedition ended disastrously. In the assault Peter was more than once wounded with arrows, and when he died a holy death at Famagusta, Cyprus three months later (January 6, 1366) it was stated that these wounds had caused, or at least accelerated, the end, and he was hailed as a martyr.

Though it may streach a point to call him an early ecumenist (his approach and methods were not today's), he still testifies to the importance and urgency of work for Christian unity and peace.
A more detailed biography can be read on the website of the Order of Carmelites, Rome - see link below.

Reading for the feast of St Peter Thomas

 from The Book of the Institution of the First Monks Bk I, ch 6

The Lord says, “The man who hears My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me.” And the first of all commandments is: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. This is the greatest and first commandment.” This cannot be observed without love of neighbor, because “he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen;” “and the second commandment is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” namely, in the things and for the reason that you love yourself. “His soul hates him who loves violence,” says the Psalmist. Therefore, love your neighbor as yourself in good and not in evil, and “whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them” and “what you hate, do not do to any one.” Thus, you must love your neighbor, and so act that he becomes just if he is wicked, or remains just if he is good. Again you must love yourself, not because of yourself, but because of God. Whatever is loved because of itself is thus made a source of joy and a happy life, the hope of attaining which is comforting even on earth. But you must not place the hope of a blessed life in yourself or another man. “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his arm, whose heart turns away from the Lord.”  Therefore you must make the Lord the source of your joy and the happy life, as the apostle says: “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” If you understand this clearly, you must love God because of Himself, and yourself, not because of yourself, but because of God; and, since you must love your neighbor as yourself, you must love him, not because of himself, nor because of yourself, but because of God, and what else is this but to love God in your neighbor? “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey His commandment.” In the preparation of your soul you do all of this if you love God because of Himself and your neighbor as yourself because of God. “On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”

Ecumenism and Carmel

Under development

Saint Peter Thomas' message for the 21st Century

Under development

Prayer for the Intercession of Saint Peter Thomas


    you inspired in your bishop St Peter Thomas
    an intense desire to promote peace and 
    Christian unity.
    Following his example may we live steadfast
    in the faith and work perseveringly for peace.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.


Further Reading

Wikipedia listing:

Liturgy for the Feast:

More detailed biography:

The text on this page has been taken from the "Calendar of Carmelite Saints" published by the Carmelite Friars, Singapore, from the book "Meeting God" published by The Irish Carmelites, and from the Irish Carmelites website  (

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