Born in Forli, Italy, Peregrine is the patron saint of persons suffering from cancer, AIDS and other serious diseases.
As a young man he was a member of an anti-papal party until he encountered St. Philip Benizi, the head of the Servite order, who had been sent to try to reconcile the divided community. While trying to preach in Forli, Philip was heckled and even struck by Peregrine, who was overcome by momentary political fervor. But that moment also changed Peregrine. He began to channel his energies in new directions, engaged in good works and eventually joined the Servites in Siena and went on to be ordained a priest. Returning to his home town, he founded a new Servite house there and became well known for his preaching and holiness as well as his devotion to the sick and poor.
One of the special penances he imposed on himself was standing whenever it was not necessary to sit. Over time, Peregrine developed varicose veins and, in turn, cancer of the foot. The wound became painful and diseased and all medical treatment failed. The local surgeon determined amputation of the leg was called for.
Tradition has it that the night before surgery was scheduled ,Peregrine spent much time in prayer before the crucified Jesus, asking God to heal him if it was God’s will to do so. Falling asleep at one point, Peregrine had a vision of the crucified Jesus leaving the cross and touching his cancerous leg. When Peregrine awoke, the wound was healed and his foot and leg, seemingly miraculously cured, were saved. He lived another 20 years.
Peregrine was canonized in 1726.