Saint Peter Canisius was born on May 8, 1521 in the Netherlands. His father was the mayor of their town and his mother died shortly after his birth. Peter’s father arranged for him to have an excellent education studying the arts, civil law and theology. Although his father wanted him to marry a wealthy woman, Peter swore a vow of celibacy in 1540. He studied with Saint Peter Faber and in 1543 entered the Society of Jesus. He loved the Jesuits and considered his entrance date in to the order as his second birthday. He loved the Church and was very concerned with what was happening in Germany in the Protestant Reformation.
Saint Peter spent a great deal of his time in trying to call Protestants back in to the Church. He did this in a very loving and gentle manner. He wrote to one of his Jesuit leaders, “It is plainly wrong to meet non-Catholics with bitterness or to treat them with discourtesy. For this is nothing else than the reverse of Christ’s example because it breaks the bruised reed and quenches the smoking flax. We ought to instruct with meekness those whom heresy has made bitter and suspicious, and has estranged from orthodox Catholics, especially from our fellow Jesuits. Thus, by whole-hearted charity and good will we may win them over to us in the Lord.” His gentle manner and great preaching helped bring many Protestants back to the Church.
Saint Peter Canisius loved education and learning and was responsible for revitalizing many Universities. He even founded new ones at Prague and Fribourg. He was also very active in trying to publish Catholic writings. He wrote and published a Catechism that was so popular that it was translated in to 200 languages and helped to launch the Catholic press. Saint Peter was so regarded as a Theologian that he spoke twice at the Ecclesiastical Council at Trent.
Saint Peter Canisius was also a man of the people. He traveled around preaching and teaching and converting many souls. He has been called the 2nd Apostle of Germany. He ministered to many who were sick with the plague. Before his death in 1597, it is estimated that he covered over 20,000 miles on foot or horseback. After his death, there were many reports of miracles attributed to those who prayed for his intercession.
Quotes from St. Peter Canisius:
Let my eyes take their sleep, but may my heart always keep watch for you. May your right hand bless your servants who love you.
May I be united with the praise that flows from you, Lord Jesus, to all your saints; united with the gratitude drawn from your heart, good Jesus, that causes your saints to thank you; united with your passion, good Jesus, by which you took away our guilt; united with the divine longing that you had on earth for our salvation; united with every prayer that welled from your divine heart, good Jesus, and flowed into the hearts of your saints.
For the sake of obtaining that eternal life no works of piety ought to seem too hard to a true believer, no toil too heavy, no pain too bitter, no time spent in labor and suffering too long or too wearisome. For if nothing is sweeter or more desirable than this present life which is so full of calamities, how much more desirable must that other life be deemed which is so far removed from all sense of evil or fear of it, which will in every conceivable way always abound in the unspeakable and unending joys, delight and happiness of heaven.
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.
We are to pray as though everything depended on God, but work as though everything depended on us, we do have a free will.
If you have too much to do, with God’s help, you will find time to do it all.