Catholic Encyclopedia – Saint Peter Gonzalez

detail of the painting 'Miracle of the Holy Body' by Luís António Bernes, 1908, showing Saint Peter Gonzales sailing on his cloak; Chapel of Our Lady of Conception and Holy Body, Câmara de Lobos, Madeira, Spain; photograph in 1992 by Rui Camacho; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

Popularly known as Saint Elmo, born in 1190 at Astorga, Spain; died 15 April 1246, at Tuy. He was educated by his uncle, Bishop of Astorga, who gave him when very young a canonry. Later he entered the Dominican Order and became a renowned preacher; crowds gathered to hear him and numberless conversions were the result of his efforts. He accompanied Ferdinand III of Leon on his expeditions against the Moors, but his ambition was to preach to the poor. He devoted the remainder of his life to the instruction and conversion of the ignorant and of the mariners in Galicia and along the coast of Spain. He lies buried in the cathedral of Tuy and was beatified in 1254 by Innocent IV.

Saint Elmo’s fire is a pale electrical discharge sometimes seen on stormy nights on the tips of spires, about the decks and rigging of ships, in the shape of a ball or brush, singly or in pairs, particularly at the mastheads and yardarms. The mariners believed them to be the souls of the departed, whence they are also called corposant (corpo santo). The ancients called them Helena fire when seen singly, and Castor and Pollux when in pairs.

MLA Citation

  • Francis Merschman. “Saint Peter Gonzalez”. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913. CatholicSaints.Info. 10 October 2016. Web. 17 June 2021. <>