St. Peter Canisius, Jesuit and Doctor
Today is the memorial of St. Peter Canisius, Jesuit priest and Doctor of the Church. He was well-known for his strong defense of the Catholic faith during the Protestant Reformation in Germany, Austria, Bohemia, Moravia, and Switzerland. He is the patron saint of Germany and the Catholic press.
Peter Canisius was born in Holland on May 8, 1521. Peter was a brilliant, but humble, young man, who studied at Cologne and received his license as doctor of civil law; he then went to Louvain (Belgium) to learn canon law. After he attended a retreat given by Blessed Peter Faber, the first disciple of St. Ignatius, he decided to become a Jesuit. On the day of his final vows, as he knelt in St. Peter’s, Our Lord showed him a vision of His Sacred Heart. From that time forward, he never failed to make an offering of all his work to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Sent to Germany, he worked strenuously for many years by his writings and teachings to confirm the Catholic faith. Of his numerous books, the Catechism is most renowned. It remains a monument of the triumph of the Church over error in the time of Luther.
A man of great energy, he taught in several universities, founded 18 colleges, and authored 37 books; his catechisms went through 200 printings in his lifetime and were translated into 12 languages. St. Peter was one of the most important figures in the Counter-Reformation in Germany and is referred to as the second apostle to Germany next to St. Boniface.
Peter died in Switzerland in 1597. Pope Pius XI canonized him in 1925, and proclaimed him a Doctor of the Church.
Quotes from St. Peter Canisius
“If you have too much to do, with God’s help you will find time to do it all.”
“Better that only a few Catholics should be left, staunch and sincere in their religion, than that they should, remaining many, desire as it were, to be in collusion with the Church’s enemies and in conformity with the open foes of our faith.”
“It was as if you opened to me the heart in your most sacred body. I seemed to see it directly before my eyes. You told me to drink from this fountain, inviting me, that is, to draw the waters of my salvation from your wellsprings, my Savior. I was most eager that streams of faith, hope, and love should flow into me from that source. I was thirsting for poverty, chastity, obedience. I asked to be made wholly clean by you, to be clothed by you, to be made resplendent by you.
“So, after daring to approach your most loving heart, and to plunge my thirst into it, I received a promise from you of a garment made of three parts: these were to cover my soul in its nakedness, and to belong especially to my religious profession. They were peace, love, and perseverance. Protected by this garment of salvation, I was confident that I would lack nothing but all would succeed and give you glory.”