Son of Angelo To Puia, a village chief, and Maria la Tumul, an adult converts who were part of the region’s first generation of Catholics. Peter was a pious boy, and though somewhat drawn to religious life, he became a lay catechist and worked with missionaries in the area. An excellent teacher and organizer of classes, he constantly carried and taught from his Bible. Married to Paula la Varpit on 11 November 1936. Father of three; one child died in infancy, another soon after the War.
In 1942 all the missionaries and their staff were arrested by the invading Japanese armies, and were lodged in concentration camps. Peter continued to lead the faithful of his village as best he could, caring for the sick, Baptising and teaching the converts, helping the poor. When the War began to go against them, the Japanese began to repress the locals, forbidding Christianity, and pushing for a return to pre-Christian ways, particularly of polygamy. Peter opposed the regression, and was arrested in 1945 for conducting religious gatherings. Imprisoned in a cave, he was so well known, supported and beloved by those who knew him that he continued to be a source of strength to his people, and of annoyance to his captors. Martyr.
- poisoned and suffocated on 7 July 1945 in a Japanese concentration camp at Rakunai, East New Britain (part of modern Papua New Guinea)
- if you have information relevant to the canonization of Blessed Peter, contact
Rev. Lucio De Stefano, MSC
Archdiocese of Rabaul
Vunapope, P.O. Box 357
Kokopo, Enbp. PAPUA NEW GUINEA
- Austrialian Dictionary of Biography
- Catholic Church of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands
- John Paul II’s Book of Saints
- Katolsk i Norge
- L’Osservatore Romano
- Lost Lives
- “Blessed Peter To Rot“. Saints.SQPN.com. 8 April 2013. Web. 19 May 2013. <>