Six Things You Didn’t Know About Saint Peter Canisius Jesuit, and Doctor
If you have too much to do, with God’s help you will find time to do it all.
No words ring truer than those above spoken by Saint Peter Canisius, who accomplished much for the Church during his 76 years on earth. The enormity of works, writings, and preachings from Peter give us the example and the courage to pray and labor for God wit
h the gifts and talents He has given us. Peter Canisius is one of the lesser known Doctors of the Church, but his contributions to the Church are magnanimous. Here are six things you didn’t know about this Saint.
Peter is the Doctor of Catechetical Studies: Peter lived during the height of the Protestant Reformation, having been born four years after Luther penned his 95 Theses. In an effort to combat Luther’s catechism Peter published his own Catholic Catechism in 1555, called the Summary of Christian Doctrine. This catechism was essential to the Counter-Reformation, was the standard for centuries, and helped renew and strengthen the Catholic faith in Europe.
Patron Saint of Germany: Because of Peter’s long labors in Germany to fight the tide of Protestantism, Peter is often called the “Second Apostle to Germany” after Saint Boniface. Peter started schools and universities, reformed parishes, converted Protestants, and served the infirmed and imprisoned.
Peter was a Jesuit: Soon after receiving a Masters Degree from Cologne at the age of 19, Peter met Blessed Peter Faber, one of the original Jesuits with Saint Ignatius. He was so impressed with Faber that Peter Canisius became a Jesuit himself in 1543. He was the first Dutchman to join the Jesuits.
Helped with the Council of Trent: Some sources cite Peter as the papal theologian during the Council of Trent. It is know that he at least attended many of the sessions. But more importantly, he was chosen as the secret Nuncio in 1565 to get the Council’s decrees throughout Europe, which was a hotbed of Protestantism at that time. As the story goes, the first messenger was caught, and thus Peter was called upon to help with this arduous task. Though he was ardently Catholic, he was respected by the Protestants because of the kindness and charity with which he treated them, and therefore would have been above suspicion of carrying the official documents.
Added a line to the “Hail Mary: As we know, the line “Holy Mary Mother of God pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death” is not found in Scripture the way the rest of the Hail Mary is. Tradition holds that Peter Canisius, who was also known for his Marian theology, began adding the sentence added to the Hail Mary, and it was officially accepted and included in the Catechism of the Council of Trent in 1566.
Creator and Patron of Catholic Press: Though the printing press was developed in the 1400s, Catholics had not made much use of it until Peter Canisius. The Protestants were busy developing their own catechisms in the vernacular and Peter responded with his own, thereby marking the beginning of the Catholic Press. His catechism was so popular that it was printed in at least twelve languages in Peter’s lifetime, and eventually produced hundreds of editions in 26 languages. Peter wrote catechisms, a breviary, and works on Mary. Even after a stroke a few years before his death kept him from writing, he dictated his teachings to his faithful secretary, who made known the words of Saint Peter Canisius.
O God, who for the defense of the Catholic faith made the Priest Saint Peter Canisius strong in virtue and in learning, grant, through his intercession, that those who seek the truth may joyfully find you, their God, and that your faithful people may persevere in confessing you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. +Amen.