Is it true that Peter the Aleut was tortured by Franciscans?
There are stories regarding a young native Alaskan named Peter the Aleut who is said to have been baptized in the early nineteenth century by Russian Orthodox monks and later martyred in California by Catholic priests for refusing to renounce Russian Orthodoxy. The stories vary widely, leaving the historical authenticity in doubt.
For example, in some versions of Peter's hagiography, the young man was tortured by Jesuits, not Franciscans. When historians pointed out that there were no Jesuits in California at the time Peter allegedly was captured and pressured into converting to Catholicism, suddenly the Franciscans were fingered as the culprits. There is also a question of how a native Alaskan, who lived on Kodiak Island, ended up in the area of modern-day San Francisco, California, nearly 2,000 miles away.
Nonetheless, if there was a Russian Orthodox convert who refused to convert to Catholicism and was martyred for his faith by Catholics, that would merely indicate that some Catholics committed a grave evil against a young Christian who refused to abandon his understanding of Christianity. In some ways, this story would not be all that different from the tragic story of Joan of Arc, who was tried for heresy and executed by fellow Catholics.