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20th-century martyr died defending traditional marriage

Bl. Peter To Rot was killed for standing up for the Church's teaching on marriage between one man and one woman.


In the 1940s, Japanese forces occupied Papua New Guinea and introduced legislation to legalize polygamy.

Peter To Rot was a lay catechist who defied Japanese law and continued to promote traditional marriage, firmly believing that marriage was between one man and one woman.

Religious activities were also banned, but Peter continued to teach the faith secretly, doing what he could to hold the local Catholic community together.

Spies were sent to trap Peter, and eventually “evidence” was mounted against him for his religious activities. He was sent to the Vunaiara concentration camp, where he was killed by lethal injection on July 7, 1945, at the age of 33.

St. John Paul II beatified Peter To Rot on January 17, 1995, and spoke highly of Peter’s defence of marriage.

When the authorities legalized and encouraged polygamy, Blessed Peter knew it to be against Christian principles and firmly denounced this practice. Because the Spirit of God dwelt in him, he fearlessly proclaimed the truth about the sanctity of marriage. He refused to take the “easy way” (Cf. ibid. 7: 13) of moral compromise. “I have to fulfil my duty as a Church witness to Jesus Christ,” he explained. Fear of suffering and death did not deter him. During his final imprisonment, Peter To Rot was serene, even joyful. He told people that he was ready to die for the faith and for his people.

Not only did he defend marriage in word, but also indeed.

He treated his wife Paula with deep respect and prayed with her morning and evening. For his children he had the utmost affection and spent as much time with them as he could. If families are good, your villages will be peaceful and good. Hold on to the traditions that defend and strengthen family life!

Peter To Rot remains a model for all married people and lay catechists and was chosen as one of the patron saints of World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney, Australia.

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