Dec 21 – Memorial for St. Peter Canisius, priest, doctor of the Church
St. Peter Canisius (1521–1597) was the son of Jacob Canisius, a wealthy burgomeister, and Ægidia van Houweningen, who died shortly after Peter’s birth. He was educated in Cologne, Germany, where he studied art, civil law, and theology. He received a master’s degree by age 19. His closest friends at university were monks and clerics.
He joined the Jesuits on May 8, 1543 after attending a retreat conducted by Bl. Peter Faber. He taught at the University of Cologne, and helped found the first Jesuit house in the city. He was ordained in 1546. He was theologian of Cardinal Otto Truchsess von Waldburg, Bishop of Augsburg in 1547.
He travelled and worked with St. Ignatius of Loyola, who was his spiritual director in Rome, Italy. He taught rhetoric in Messina, Sicily in 1548, preaching in Italian and Latin. He was doctor of theology in 1549. He began teaching theology and preaching at Ingolstadt, Germany in 1549, and was rector of the university the following year.
In 1552 he began teaching theology and preaching in the Cathedral of St. Stephen in Vienna, Austria. He was the royal court confessor even as he continued to work in hospitals and prisons. During Lent in 1553, he travelled to preach in abandoned parishes in Lower Austria.
During Mass one day, he received a vision of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and ever after offered his work to the Sacred Heart. He led the Counter-Reformation in Germany, Austria, Bohemia, and Switzerland, and his work led to the return of Catholicism to Germany. His catechism went through 200 editions during his lifetime, and was translated into 12 languages. In some places catechisms were referred to as ‘Canisi’.
He attended the Diets of Augsburg (1555), Ratisbon (1556, 1557), and founded Jesuit colleges in Ingolstadt, Prague, Dilingen, and Fribourg. Everywhere he worked, he became a noted preacher and often worked with children, teaching them and hearing their confessions.
He represented Pope Paul IV at the imperial Diet of Pieternow. He addressed the Council of Trent on the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. He recommended St. Stanislaus Kostka for reception as a Jesuit. He was court preacher to Archduke Ferdinand II of Austria.
While in Fribourg, Switzerland, he received a message from the city’s patron saint, Nicholas of Myra, that he should stop travelling. Canisius spent the rest of his life there. He taught, preached, edited books, and worked to support the Catholic press and printers in many cities. His advice was sought by St. Francis de Sales, and by his friend St. Charles Borromeo. He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1925 by Pope Pius XI.
- Patron Saint Index
Sg of Sgs 2:8-14
“Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord?”
I will never forget the time I spent at Lourdes, France — the baths, the Masses, and the Rosary devotions. They filled me with such joy and peace, and since then, every time I go to any church or chapel afterwards, I am always flooded with these two emotions. I now know the joy, contentment, and peace that Saint Elizabeth felt when Our Lady visited her. It was truly an unforgettable experience ever.
Yet, amongst these heavenly sentiments, I am also made aware of the fact that I am far from being holy like Jesus and Our Lady. Despite being made greatly self-conscious of this very fact that I, as all of us are, have been stained by original sin, I do not feel guilty in her presence. Instead, I can see mental images of our Mother giving me a warm embrace that immediately covers me with a big blanket of love. I am instantly overwhelmed with love and peace and lots of emotions that I have been bottling up inside me. I feel so comforted by her presence, and my soul is speaking to her in a language that I cannot understand, but I know that she understands everything and the difficulties that I am going through, without me telling her in English words.
So, like how Saint Elizabeth greeted her cousin with so much joy and love, let us welcome her and baby Jesus this Christmas with lots of joy, love and peace!
(Today’s Oxygen by Brenda Khoo)
Prayer: Dear Lord, please open up our hearts and make a straight path to welcome our Lady and baby Jesus with love, joy and peace this Christmas. Please also give us the grace to seek solace and comfort in your Mother, instead of pursuing transient material comforts. Amen.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for giving us Your Mother to cheer with us when we feel happy, comfort us when we feel sad, and guide us gently in her arms when we feel scared. Thank you for sending her to us to give us love, joy and peace in our life. Amen.