Saint Peter Armengol
Related to the Counts of Urgel, Peter Armengol was born in Guardia dels Prats (Tarragona) in the middle of the thirteenth century. He spent his childhood and adolescence in a quiet family atmosphere of honesty. But having barely reached the threshold of youth, Peter was drawn by bad company to the abyss of dissolute and criminal life of a bandit.
In an encounter of armed people sent by James I to rid the area through which the royal suite was to travel of evildoers, with his sword in his hand, libertine Peter Armengol found himself face to face with his own father, Arnaldo. This providential circumstance made Peter lay down his weapons before his progenitor, ask for his pardon and, with iron will, decide to change his life.
His father’s prestige saved his son from the deserved punishment and Peter Armengol badgered the Mercedarian friars to accept him in the Order since he wanted to dedicate the rest of his life to the work of mercy of the redemption of captives so that the Lord would use his infinite mercy with him.
After he was received in the Order, Peter was able to go twice to Moorish lands to carry out the ministry of redemption. On his second trip in 1266, he remained as a hostage for captives in Bejaïa. He had stayed behind as a pledge but the money for the ransom did not arrive in time and he was hanged from the gallows.
However, thanks to Mary’s singular protection, he was not hurt. The day after the hanging, when Brother Guillermo of Florence arrived with the money agreed upon, he found Peter alive. As a result of his ordeal, he had a twisted neck for the rest of his life. Upon returning to Spain, for almost forty years, Peter lived in seclusion in the convent of Santa María dels Prats where he died a holy death in 1304.