Peter Louis Mary Chanel was born at Cluet, Belley in France. From the time he was seven, he took care of his father's sheep. He was poor but intelligent and loved God and his Catholic faith.
One day, a good parish priest met him and was so impressed by Peter that he asked Peter's parents if he could educate the boy. They gratefully agreed and in this priest's little school, and later in the seminary, Peter studied hard.
At the age of twenty-four Peter Chanel became a priest and he was sent to a parish at Corzet where just a few Catholics still practiced their faith. Father Chanel spent hours in prayer each day and was kind and patient with everyone. Within three years there was a big improvement in that parish. Many people became full of love for Jesus and his Church again.
Father Chanel had a great wish to become a missionary. When he was twenty-eight, he joined a religious order called the Society of Mary (Marist Fathers). He hoped he would be sent to bring the Good News of Jesus to people who did not yet believe in God. After a few years, his wish came true.
He and a group of Marist missionaries were sent to the islands of the South Pacific, Oceania. Father Chanel and one brother were assigned to the island of Futuna in New Hebrides. There the people happily listened to Father Chanel preach. "This man loves us," one man said. "And he himself practices what he teaches us to do."
Sadly though, the chief of this tribe became jealous because the priest had so many followers. When the chief's own son was baptized and became a Christian, he was furious. He sent a band of his warriors to kill the missionary.
As Peter Chanel lay dying, all he said was, "It is well with me." He was killed on April 28, 1841 for his faith. A short while after he died a martyr, the whole island became Christian.