vendredi 27 avril 2012

Saint PIERRE CANISIUS, prêtre jésuite, confesseur et Docteur de l'Église



SAINT PIERRE CANISIUS

Docteur de l'Église

(1521-1597)

Pierre Kanijs, dont on a fait "Canisius", naquit le 8 mai 1521 à Nimègue, de parents qui étaient fervents catholiques, et qui surent pénétrer l'âme de leurs enfants de leur foi et de leur piété. Aussi Louis Veuillot a pu dire que "le premier jouet de Pierre fut un livre, son premier mot une prière, et depuis il alla toujours étudiant et priant". Envoyé à Cologne pour y compléter ses études, il en sortit maître-ès-art (1540). Trois ans plus tard, le 8 mai 1543, il entrait dans la Compagnie de Jésus, et, en juin 1546, il était élevé au sacerdoce.

Dès avant sa prêtrise, Canisius avait commencé à donner des cours publics d'Écriture Sainte et à se livrer à la prédication. Il n'avait que vingt-quatre ans, lorsque la confiance des habitants de Cologne l'envoya auprès de l'empereur Charles-Quint, pour obtenir qu'il les délivrât de leur archevêque infecté de protestantisme.

Après une courte apparition au Concile de Trente, il revint en Allemagne, y travailler à réparer les ruines amoncelées par l'hérésie. Il le fit par une prédication inlassable, par son enseignement théologique, et par la diffusion de ses écrits. Ce fut alors qu'il composa son chef-d'oeuvre connu sous le nom de "Catéchisme de Canisius", qui lui a valu d'être élevé à la dignité de Docteur de l'Église.

Nommé Provincial de son Ordre, il exerça cette charge pendant quatorze ans durant lesquels il fonda en Allemagne neuf collèges qui contribuèrent beaucoup à répandre l'instruction chrétienne parmi la jeunesse. Il coopéra aussi très efficacement à la réforme du clergé par l'érection de séminaires ecclésiastiques.

Ces divers travaux n'empêchaient point le Père Canisius d'entretenir de fréquents rapports avec les princes catholiques allemands, et de soutenir leur courage dans leurs luttes avec les protestants. Son influence le fit choisir, en 1557, pour défendre les dogmes catholiques à la diète de Worms, contre les principaux coryphées du protestantisme. Il réussit à les opposer les uns aux autres, au point qu'ils ne purent arriver à s'entendre entre eux.

Ayant été déchargé de toute supériorité, le Père Canisius se retira à Dillingen et y travailla à la réfutation des erreurs des "Centuries de Magdebourg". Il alla ensuite fonder le collège de Fribourg (1580), qu'il ne devait plus quitter. La vénération des Fribourgeois pour lui était telle, qu'ayant eu vent d'une décision qui devait le leur ravir, ils écrivirent au Provincial: "Les sanctuaires de Fribourg ne possèdent aucun corps de Saint; nous voulons donc retenir chez nous ce Saint vivant, et ne pas permettre qu'il ait ailleurs son tombeau." Leur voeu fut exaucé: Le Père Canisius mourut à Fribourg le 21 décembre 1597. Il avait soixante-seize ans.

D'après: J.M. Planchet, Vies des Saints, édition 1946 et Abbé L. Jaud, Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l'année, Tours, Mame, 1950.

SOURCE : http://magnificat.ca/cal/fr/saints/saint_pierre_canisius.html


Saint Pierre Canisius

Docteur de l'Église

(1521-1597)

Saint Pierre Canisius était issu d'une famille de Nimègue, située dans les Pays-Bas actuels. Pierre était l'aîné ; il naquit le jour où Luther fut mis au ban de l'empire et le mois même où saint Ignace fut blessé au siège de la citadelle de Pampelune (blessure qui valut à saint Ignace de longues semaines d'immobilisation et de souffrances, mises à profit pour lire des vies de saints et prendre la décision de les imiter).

Pierre étudia à Cologne (Allemagne) la philosophie, et c'est alors qu'il mûrit la décision de devenir prêtre. Il orienta ses études de théologie vers l'Écriture Sainte et les Pères de l'Église et rencontra Pierre Favre, le premier compagnon d'Ignace de Loyola, qui, chargé d'une mission papale, séjournait à Mayence. Au printemps 1543, saint Pierre Canisius fit sous la direction de Pierre Favre, les exercices spirituels de saint Ignace durant trente jours ; puis il décida d'entrer dans la Compagnie et scella son choix par un vœu. En 1546, il fut ordonné prêtre. Il quitta bientôt Cologne pour l'Italie où il fut envoyé au concile de Trente comme théologien de l'évêque d'Augsbourg. Après l'ajournement du concile, Ignace l'appela à Rome et lui fit accomplir son noviciat sous sa propre direction.

Au printemps 1548, saint Pierre Canisius fut envoyé avec un groupe de dix jésuites sous la direction de Jérôme Nadal pour fonder à Messine le premier collège jésuite ; Pierre y enseigna le latin. Mais bientôt, sur l'ordre du pape Paul III, il fut envoyé en 1549 avec Claude Jay et Alonso Salmeron en Bavière. C'est de cette base que pendant trente ans, notre saint va déployer dans l'empire son activité et ses talents en faveur de l'Église alors menacée par sa propre décadence et par la puissante poussée de la réforme protestante.

Quatre points essentiels marquent l'action de saint Pierre Canisius

1°/ D'abord la lutte contre l'ignorance religieuse et contre la dépravation morale qui en était la conséquence.

En d'innombrables prédications, souvent préparées de nuit (plus de 12.000 pages in-4° de sermons manuscrits sont conservés), saint Pierre Canisius exposait la doctrine de l'Église et amenait ses auditeurs à vivre chrétiennement. Pour la réforme du clergé, il employait surtout les exercices ignaciens. Plus étendue encore et plus durable, son action s'exerça par l'imprimé, principalement par les trois Catéchismes et les divers livres de prières qu'il écrivit.

2°/ Le second point capital concernait l'éducation et la formation du clergé.

Saint Pierre Canisius commença par la réforme de l'université d'Ingolstadt, dont le pape lui avait fait l'immédiate obligation ; puis il travailla à la réforme de l'université de Vienne tombée dans un état de langueur désespérant. Appréciant de manière réaliste la situation, il porta sur le domaine de l'éducation le principal de ses efforts en érigeant des collèges. Ceux-ci devaient former une nouvelle génération chrétienne pour servir dans l'Église et dans le monde. Les commencements furent laborieux. Cependant à la mort du saint, on comptait dans l'Empire cent fondations dont beaucoup étaient directement ou indirectement son œuvre.

3°/ Le troisième point était la situation interne des jésuites.

Saint Pierre Canisius fut le maître d'œuvre spirituel et l'organisateur de la Compagnie de Jésus dans l'Empire. Lorsqu'en 1556, Ignace érigea deux provinces allemandes de l'ordre, il nomma Pierre au gouvernement de la Germania Superior qui, jusqu'en 1563, engloba aussi l'Autriche. Pendant plus de treize ans, outre le reste de son travail, saint Pierre Canisius eut à diriger et à superviser le nombre toujours croissant des compagnons, leurs communautés et leurs travaux apostoliques.

4°/ Le quatrième point consistait à conseiller évêques et princes dans les questions touchant la réforme de l'Église et ses conséquences pour l'État.

Saint Pierre Canisius eut à intervenir six fois comme théologien des légats pontificaux ou du roi, aux assemblées d'Empire. Sur mandat du pape et pour ses propres supérieurs, il rédigea toute une série de mémorandums concernant la réforme de l'Église. Durant l'hiver 1565-1566, par commission papale, il eut à remettre et à commenter les décrets du concile de Trente aux évêques et aux princes catholiques de l'Empire.

De son temps, Pierre fut le plus puissant agent de la réforme intérieure de l'Église catholique dans l'Empire. Il a fortement contribué à contenir les progrès et la pression de la réforme protestante et à ramener à l'Église des régions perdues, surtout dans l'Allemagne méridionale et en Autriche. Extrêmement ferme sur ses positions, notre saint était, en face des protestants, tout disposé aux attitudes iréniques, et celles-ci se manifestaient aussi dans ses jugements.

Il passa ses dernières années (1580-1597) à Fribourg, en Suisse où il avait été envoyé pour fonder un collège. Autant que le permettait ses forces usées par une activité de trente ans, saint Pierre Canisius y continua son action pour réformer l'Église et affermir la foi. Il y mourut le 21 décembre 1597.

Il fut béatifié en 1864 et déclaré docteur de l'Église en 1925.

Les Œuvres de saint Pierre Canisius

1°/ Son premier travail fut l'édition allemande, à Cologne, en 1546, des œuvres de Jean Tauler (mystique). Il publia également :
- trois volumes de sermons et d'autres ouvrages de Saint Cyrille d'Alexandrie (Cologne 1546)
- un volume d'homélies de saint Léon le Grand (1546, 1548, 1566)
- puis les lettres de saint Jérôme (1562).

Ces éditions furent le fruit de ses études patristiques.

2°/ L'œuvre la plus importante de saint Pierre Canisius, qui étendra son action durant des siècles et à travers de nombreux pays, est constituée par ses catéchismes.
- La première rédaction connue sous le nom de « Grand Catéchisme » parut en 1555 : Summa doctrina christianae. La traduction française parut à Liège en 1588.

- Également en 1556, Saint Pierre Canisius publia un catéchisme pour les gens simples et pour les enfants des écoles : Summa doctrina christianae ad captum rudiorum accomodata (Ingolstadt, 1556).

- Pour les classes moyennes, il composa enfin Parvus Catechismus Catholicorum que l'on tient pour sa meilleure œuvre. Il travailla tout le reste de sa vie à améliorer et à compléter ses catéchismes.

À sa mort, quinze traductions et plus de deux cents éditions avaient été faites. Par son catéchisme, saint Pierre Canisius donnait à la jeunesse de son temps un traité de foi et aussi une introduction à la vie chrétienne.

3°/ Autres ouvrages destinés à soutenir la prière et à enseigner la doctrine chrétienne.

4°/ Sermons

Saint Pierre Canisius n'a publié qu'un Avent réduit aux quatre dimanches. Il existe de nombreux sermons manuscrits aux archives de la province jésuite de Germanie Supérieure.

5°/ Saint Pierre Canisius entreprit par obéissance la réfutation des Centuries de Magdebourg, réfutation de cette histoire de l'Église violemment antipapiste éditée par Flacius Illyricus (8 vol., Bâle, 1559-1574). Notre saint n'était pas un historien et le résultat de son patient travail est une apologie de la foi catholique romaine dans sa lecture de la Bible, avec des aspects de controverse antiprotestante.

6°/ À Fribourg, il publie des biographies populaires de plusieurs saints de la Suisse : Nicolas de Flue, Meinrad, Ida, Fridolin, etc.

7°/ Exhortationes domesticae

8°/ 1.310 Lettres

cf. J.F. Gilmont, Les écrits spirituels des premiers jésuites, Rome, 1961, p. 209-31

SOURCE : http://nouvl.evangelisation.free.fr/pierre_canisius.htm


BENOÎT XVI

AUDIENCE GÉNÉRALE

Salle Paul VI

Mercredi 9 février 2011

Saint Pierre Canisius

Chers frères et sœurs,

Je voudrais vous parler aujourd’hui de saint Pierre Kanis, Canisius, forme latinisée de son nom de famille, une figure très importante du XVIe siècle catholique. Il était né le 8 mai 1521 à Nimègue, en Hollande. Son père était bourgmestre de la ville. Alors qu’il était étudiant à l’université de Cologne, il fréquenta les moines chartreux de Sainte Barbara, un centre dynamique de vie catholique, ainsi que d’autres hommes pieux qui cultivaient la spiritualité dite devotio moderna. Il entra dans la Compagnie de Jésus le 8 mai 1543 à Mayence (Rhénanie-Palatinat), après avoir suivi un cours d’exercices spirituels sous la direction du bienheureux Pierre Favre, Petrus Faber, l’un des premiers compagnons de saint Ignace de Loyola. Ordonné prêtre en juin 1546 à Cologne, dès l’année suivante, comme théologien de l’évêque d’Augsburg, le cardinal Otto Truchsess von Waldburg, il participa au Concile de Trente, où il collabora avec deux confrères, Diego Laínez et Alfonso Salmerón.

En 1548, saint Ignace lui fit terminer sa formation spirituelle à Rome et l’envoya ensuite au Collège de Messine pour accomplir d’humbles travaux domestiques. Ayant obtenu à Bologne un doctorat en théologie le 4 octobre 1549, il fut destiné par saint Ignace à l’apostolat en Allemagne. Le 2 septembre de cette même année, 1549, il rendit visite au Pape Paul III à Castel Gandolfo, puis se rendit dans la basilique Saint-Pierre pour prier. Là, il implora l’aide des grands saints apôtres Pierre et Paul, afin qu’ils accordent une efficacité permanente à la Bénédiction apostolique pour son grand destin, pour sa nouvelle mission. Dans son journal, il note certaines phrases de cette prière. Il dit: «J’ai alors ressenti qu’un grand réconfort et que la présence de la grâce m’étaient accordés au moyen de ces intercesseurs [Pierre et Paul]. Ils confirmaient ma mission en Allemagne et semblaient me transmettre, comme apôtre de l’Allemagne, le soutien de leur bienveillance. Tu sais, Seigneur, de combien de façons et combien de fois en ce même jour tu m’as confié l’Allemagne pour laquelle, par la suite, je continuerais à être sollicité, pour laquelle je désirerais vivre et mourir».

Nous devons tenir compte du fait que nous nous trouvons à l’époque de la Réforme luthérienne, au moment où la foi catholique dans les pays de langue germanique, face à l’attraction de la Réforme, semblait s’éteindre. Le devoir de Pierre Canisius, chargé de revitaliser, de renouveler la foi catholique dans les pays germaniques, était presque impossible. Il n’était possible que par la force de la prière. Il n’était possible qu’à partir du centre, c’est-à-dire d’une profonde amitié personnelle avec Jésus Christ; une amitié avec le Christ dans son Corps, l’Eglise, qui doit être nourrie dans l’Eucharistie, Sa présence réelle.

En suivant la mission reçue par Ignace et par le Pape Paul III, Pierre Canisius partit pour l’Allemagne et se rendit avant tout dans le duché de Bavière, qui pendant de nombreuses années, fut le lieu de son ministère. En tant que doyen, recteur et vice-chancelier de l’université d’Ingolstadt, il s’occupa de la vie académique de l’Institut et de la réforme religieuse et morale du peuple. A Vienne, où, pendant une brève période, il fut administrateur du diocèse, il accomplit son ministère pastoral dans les hôpitaux et dans les prisons, tant en ville que dans les campagnes, et prépara la publication de son Catéchisme. En 1556, il fonda le Collège de Prague et, jusqu’en 1569, il fut le premier supérieur de la province jésuite de l’Allemagne supérieure.

Dans le cadre de cette charge, il établit dans les pays germaniques un réseau étroit de communautés de son Ordre, en particulier de collèges, qui devinrent des points de départ pour la réforme catholique, pour le renouveau de la foi catholique. A cette époque, il participa également au colloque de Worms avec les dirigeants protestants, parmi lesquels Philip Mélanchthon (1557); il exerça la fonction de nonce pontifical en Pologne (1558); il participa aux deux Diètes d’Augsbourg (1559 et 1565); il accompagna le cardinal Stanislas Hozjusz, légat du Pape Pie IV auprès de l’empereur Ferdinand (1560); il intervint à la session finale du Concile de Trente, où il parla de la question de la Communion sous les deux espèces et de l’index des livres interdits (1562).

En 1580, il se retira à Fribourg en Suisse, en se consacrant totalement à la prédication et à la composition de ses œuvres, et c'est là qu'il mourut le 21 décembre 1597. Béatifié par le bienheureux Pie IX en 1864, il fut proclamé en 1897 le deuxième Apôtre de l'Allemagne par le Pape Léon XIII, et canonisé et proclamé Docteur de l'Eglise par le Pape Pie XI en 1925.

Saint Pierre Canisius passa une bonne partie de sa vie au contact des personnes les plus importantes socialement de son époque et exerça une influence particulière par ses écrits. Il fut l'éditeur des œuvres complètes de saint Cyril d'Alexandrie et de saint Léon le Grand, des Lettres de saint Jérôme et des Oraisons de saint Nicolas de Flue. Il publia des livres de dévotion en plusieurs langues, les biographies de plusieurs saints suisses et de nombreux textes d’homilétique. Mais ses écrits les plus répandus furent les trois Catéchismes composés entre 1555 et 1558. Le premier Catéchisme était destiné aux étudiants en mesure de comprendre des notions élémentaires de théologie; le deuxième aux jeunes du peuple pour une première instruction religieuse; le troisième aux jeunes ayant une formation scolaire de niveau secondaire et supérieur. La doctrine catholique était exposée sous forme de questions et réponses, brièvement, dans des termes bibliques, avec une grande clarté et sans accents polémiques. Rien que de son vivant, on dénombrait déjà 200 éditions de ce Catéchisme! Et des centaines d'éditions se sont succédé jusqu'au XXe siècle. Ainsi en Allemagne, les personnes de la génération de mon père appelaient encore le Catéchisme simplement le Canisius: il est réellement le catéchiste à travers les siècles, il a formé la foi de personnes pendant des siècles.

C'est bien une caractéristique de saint Pierre Canisius: savoir composer harmonieusement la fidélité aux principes dogmatiques avec le respect dû à chaque personne. Saint Canisius a fait la distinction entre l'apostasie consciente, coupable, de la foi, et la perte de la foi non coupable, du fait des circonstances. Et il a déclaré, à l'égard de Rome, que la plupart des Allemands passés au protestantisme étaient sans faute. A un moment historique de fortes oppositions confessionnelles, il évitait — c'est quelque chose d'extraordinaire — l'âpreté et la rhétorique de la colère — quelque chose de rare comme je l'ai dit en ces temps de débats entre chrétiens, — et il visait uniquement à la présentation des racines spirituelles et à la revitalisation de la foi dans l'Eglise. C'est à cela que servit la connaissance vaste et profonde qu'il avait des Ecritures Saintes et des Pères de l'Eglise: cette même connaissance sur laquelle s'appuya sa relation personnelle avec Dieu et l'austère spiritualité qui lui venait de la devotio moderna et de la mystique rhénane.

La spiritualité de saint Canisius se caractérise par une profonde amitié personnelle avec Jésus. Il écrit, par exemple, le 4 septembre 1549 dans son journal, parlant avec le Seigneur: «Toi, à la fin, comme si tu m'ouvrais le cœur du Très Saint Corps, qu'il me semblait voir devant moi, tu m'as commandé de boire à cette source, en m'invitant pour ainsi dire à puiser les eaux de mon salut à tes sources, ô mon Sauveur». Puis il voit que le Sauveur lui donne un vêtement en trois parties qui s'appellent paix, amour et persévérance. Et avec ce vêtement composé de paix, d’amour et de persévérance, Canisius a mené son œuvre de renouveau du catholicisme. Son amitié avec Jésus — qui est au centre de sa personnalité — nourrie par l'amour de la Bible, par l'amour du Sacrement, par l'amour des Pères, cette amitié était clairement unie avec la conscience d'être dans l'Eglise un continuateur de la mission des Apôtres. Et cela nous rappelle que chaque évangélisateur authentique est toujours un instrument uni — et cela même le rend fécond — avec Jésus et avec son Eglise.

Saint Pierre Canisius s’était formé à l’amitié avec Jésus dans le milieu spirituel de la Chartreuse de Cologne, dans laquelle il était en contact étroit avec deux mystiques chartreux: Johann Lansperger, latinisé en Lanspergius, et Nicolas van Hesche, latinisé en Eschius. Il approfondit par la suite l’expérience de cette amitié, familiaritas stupenda nimis, avec la contemplation des mystères de la vie de Jésus, qui occupent une grande partie des Exercices spirituels de saint Ignace. Son intense dévotion au Cœur du Seigneur, qui atteint son sommet dans la consécration au ministère apostolique dans la Basilique vaticane, trouve ici son fondement.

Dans la spiritualité christocentrique de saint Pierre Canisius s’enracine une conviction profonde: il n’y a pas d’âme soucieuse de sa propre perfection qui ne pratique chaque jour la prière, l’oraison mentale, moyen ordinaire qui permet au disciple de Jésus de vivre dans l’intimité du Maître divin. C’est pourquoi, dans les écrits destinés à l’éducation spirituelle du peuple, notre saint insiste sur l’importance de la liturgie avec ses commentaires des Evangiles, des fêtes, du rite de la Messe et des autres sacrements, mais, dans le même temps, il a soin de montrer aux fidèles la nécessité et la beauté de la prière personnelle qui accompagne et imprègne la participation au culte public de l’Eglise.

Il s’agit d’une exhortation et d’une méthode qui conservent leur valeur intacte, en particulier après qu’elles aient été reproposées de manière faisant autorité par le Concile Vatican II dans la constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium: la vie chrétienne ne croît pas si elle n’est pas nourrie par la participation à la liturgie, de manière particulière à la Messe dominicale, et par la prière personnelle quotidienne, par le contact personnel avec Dieu. Parmi les mille activités et les multiples stimulations qui nous entourent, il est nécessaire de trouver chaque jour des moments de recueillement devant le Seigneur pour l’écouter et parler avec Lui.

Dans le même temps, l’exemple que saint Pierre Canisius nous a laissé, non seulement dans ses œuvres, mais surtout à travers sa vie, est toujours actuel et d’une valeur permanente. Il enseigne avec clarté que le ministère apostolique n’est incisif et ne produit des fruits de salut dans les cœurs que si le prédicateur est un témoin personnel de Jésus et sait être un instrument à sa disposition, étroitement uni à Lui par la foi dans son Evangile et dans son Eglise, par une vie moralement cohérente et par une prière incessante comme l’amour. Et cela vaut pour chaque chrétien qui veut vivre avec engagement et fidélité son adhésion au Christ. Merci.

* * *

Je salue les francophones présents à cette audience, spécialement les étudiants des différents collèges et lycées de Paris et d’Aix-en-Provence. Je vous invite à venir à Madrid pour les Journées mondiales de la jeunesse en août prochain. A bientôt donc! N’oubliez pas de garder un contact quotidien avec Dieu. Avec ma Bénédiction apostolique.

© Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

SOURCE : http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2011/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20110209_fr.html



St Pierre Canisius, confesseur et docteur

Mort à Fribourg le 21 décembre 1597. Canonisé en 1925 par Pie XI et proclamé docteur de l’Église.

La fête fut instituée en 1926 comme fête double.

Leçons des Matines avant 1960

Au deuxième nocturne. Pierre Canisius naquit à Nimègue en Gueldre, l’année même où, en Allemagne, Luther brisait avec l’Église par une révolte ouverte, tandis qu’en Espagne, Ignace de Loyola abandonnait la milice terrestre et se consacrait à soutenir les combats du Seigneur : Dieu voulant sans doute annoncer par cette double coïncidence quels seraient dans la suite ses adversaires et sous quel chef il s’enrôlerait dans la sainte milice. A Cologne où l’avaient amené ses études, Pierre se lia à Dieu par le vœu de chasteté perpétuelle et s’enrôla, peu après, dans la Compagnie de Jésus. Revêtu du sacerdoce, il entreprit aussitôt, par ses missions, ses sermons et ses écrits, de défendre la foi catholique contre les attaques perfides des novateurs. Par deux fois il prit part au Concile de Trente où le désiraient vivement, à cause de sa rare sagesse et de son expérience des affaires, le Cardinal d’Augsbourg et les Pontifes Légats. De plus, sur l’autorité du Souverain Pontife Pie IV, il s’employa à en faire publier et appliquer comme il convenait les décrets en Allemagne. Envoyé par Paul IV au synode de Petrikan et chargé d’autres missions par Grégoire XIII, il y traita des plus graves affaires de la Religion avec un courage toujours ardent qu’aucune difficulté ne put abattre, et, à travers toutes les circonstances critiques de l’époque, les conduisit à une heureuse fin.

Quatrième leçon. On peut à peine exprimer combien, durant plus de quarante ans, embrasé du feu de la divine charité que jadis, dans la basilique vaticane, il avait abondamment puisé au plus profond du Cœur de Jésus, et uniquement voué à l’augmentation de la gloire divine, le Bienheureux accomplit de travaux et endura de souffrances, soit pour préserver un grand nombre de villes et provinces d’Allemagne de la contagion de l’hérésie, soit pour les ramener à la foi lorsqu’elles s’en trouvaient infectées. Aux diètes de Ratisbonne et d’Augsbourg il sut animer les chefs de l’Empire à la défense des droits de l’Église et à la correction des mœurs populaires. En celle de Worms il réduisit au silence l’orgueil et l’impiété des magistrats de cette ville. Préposé par saint Ignace à la Province d’Allemagne il fonda en beaucoup de lieux des résidences ; et des collèges de la Compagnie, apporta tous ses soins à promouvoir et développer le Collège germanique fondé à Rome, remit en honneur ; dans les académies l’étude des sciences sacrées et des humanités regrettablement négligées ; écrivit deux livres admirables contre les Centuriateurs de Magdebourg, enfin composa une somme de doctrine chrétienne universellement et hautement approuvée tant par le jugement des théologiens que par l’usage public de trois siècles, et publia en langue vulgaire pour l’instruction du peuple de nombreux et très utiles ouvrages. Tant de services, qui valurent au Bienheureux-le nom de marteau des hérétiques et de nouvel apôtre de la Germanie, le firent à juste titre regarder comme suscité par Dieu pour être le défenseur de la religion en Allemagne.

Cinquième leçon. Au milieu de tant de travaux Pierre Canisius entretenait avec Dieu une union habituelle par de fréquentes prières, et la méditation assidue des choses surnaturelles, souvent inondé de larmes et parfois ravi en extase. Tenu en grande estime par les personnages les plus importants ou les plus renommés pour leur piété, grandement honoré par quatre Souverains Pontifes, il avait de si bas sentiments de lui-même qu’il se disait et se croyait le dernier de tous. Il refusa à trois reprises l’évêché de Vienne. D’une obéissance admirable envers ses supérieurs, on le voyait prêt, au moindre signe de leur part, à tout abandonner ou entreprendre, même au péril de sa santé et de sa vie. Les rigueurs volontaires qu’il exerçait contre lui-même furent sans cesse les protectrices de sa chasteté. Enfin le Bienheureux, âgé de soixante dix-sept ans et se trouvant à Fribourg en Suisse où il avait passé les dernières années de sa vie à s’épuiser pour la gloire divine et le salut des âmes, s’en alla vers Dieu le onze décembre quinze cent quatre-vingt dix-sept. Le Pape Pie IX a élevé aux honneurs de la béatification ce vaillant champion de la vérité catholique ; et, de nouveaux miracles l’ayant rendu illustre, le Souverain Pontife Pie XI, en l’année jubilaire, l’inscrivit au nombre des Saints en même temps qu’il le déclarait Docteur de l’Église universelle.

Sixième leçon.

Au troisième nocturne.

Lecture du saint Évangile selon saint Matthieu. Cap. 5, 13-19.

En ce temps-là : Jésus dit à ses disciples : « Vous êtes le sel de ia terre : si le sel s’affadit, avec quoi le salera-t-on ? ». Et le reste.

Homélie de saint Pierre Canisius, Prêtre.

Septième leçon. J’aime et vénère les Apôtres envoyés par le Christ et leurs successeurs, si zélés à répandre la semence de l’Évangile, infatigables propagateurs et coopérateurs de la divine Parole, qui peuvent à juste titre se rendre ce témoignage : Les hommes nous doivent estimer ministres du Christ et dispensateurs des mystères de Dieu. C’est que le Christ, en Père de famille très vigilant et très fidèle, a voulu que, par de tels ministres et de tels envoyés, fût allumé ici-bas au feu venu du ciel, le flambeau évangélique et qu’allumé il ne fût pas placé sous le boisseau mais sur le chandelier, d’où cette lumière répandrait de tous côtés sa splendeur, et triompherait à jamais de toutes les ténèbres et erreurs régnant tant parmi les Juifs que parmi les Gentils.

Huitième leçon. En effet, il ne suffit pas au docteur évangélique d’éclairer les peuples par sa parole, de faire entendre une voix criant dans le désert, d’aider de ses discours beaucoup d’âmes à progresser dans la piété, de peur que s’il omettait la prédication, devoir de son ministère, il ne soit de ces chiens muets incapables d’aboyer que stigmatisa le Prophète. Mais il doit encore être plein de ferveur lui-même, afin que, riche en œuvres et en charité, il fasse honneur à son ministère évangélique et suive les traces de Paul son Maître. Celui-ci, en effet, non content d’adresser à l’évêque d’Éphèse cette recommandation : Avertis et instruis, combats comme un bon soldat du Christ Jésus, évangélisa lui-même constamment amis et ennemis et pouvait dire en bonne conscience aux évêques assemblés à Éphèse : Vous le savez, il n’y a rien d’utile que j’aie négligé de vous annoncer et de vous enseigner tant en public que dans vos maisons, affirmant devant les Juifs et les Gentils la nécessité de la pénitence vis-à-vis de Dieu, et de la foi en notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ.

Neuvième leçon. Tel en effet doit être le Pasteur de l’Église : à l’exemple de saint Paul, qu’il se fasse tout à tous, afin qu’en lui le malade trouve le remède ; l’affligé, la joie ; le désespéré, la confiance ; l’ignorant, l’instruction ; l’indécis, le conseil ; le pécheur repentant, pardon et consolation ; chacun enfin, tout ce qui est nécessaire à son salut. Aussi le Christ lorsqu’il voulut constituer les Chefs de la terre et les Docteurs de l’Église, dans sa sagesse ne se contenta pas de dire à ses disciples : Vous êtes la lumière du monde ; mais ajouta ceci encore : Une ville fondée sur la montagne ne peut demeurer cachée et on n’allume pas une lampe pour la mettre sous le boisseau mais sur le chandelier, afin qu’elle éclaire tous ceux qui sont dans la maison. Ils se trompent en effet, les ecclésiastiques qui pensent pouvoir satisfaire aux obligations de leur charge, plus par l’éclat de leur science que par la pureté de leur vie et l’ardeur de leur charité.


Bhx Cardinal Schuster, Liber Sacramentorum

L’histoire de ce glorieux disciple de saint Ignace est intimement liée à celle de la contre-réforme catholique en Allemagne en face des novateurs protestants ; cela est si vrai que Canisius fut salué comme le nouvel apôtre de l’Allemagne et le marteau de l’hérésie. De fait, incroyable est l’énergie déployée par le Saint pour la défense de la foi durant les quarante années de son apostolat, où il n’épargna ni travaux ni souffrances pour le bien de l’Église. Deux fois il prit part au Concile de Trente ; il fit un nombre incroyable de prédications et de missions, non seulement devant les simples fidèles mais aussi dans les diverses cours princières ; il écrivit maints ouvrages de caractère théologique, polémique et catéchétique, ce qui lui valut de recevoir de Pie XI le titre de docteur de l’Église qui lui fut conféré — et c’est en cela qu’il fut l’objet d’un privilège — au moment même de sa canonisation à Saint-Pierre.

Il écrivit, en réponse aux Centuries de Magdebourg, deux excellents volumes, qui plus tard, grâce à l’intervention de saint Philippe, furent suivis de ceux de Baronius sur les Annales Ecclésiastiques. Le catéchisme de Canisius, adopté par saint Charles pour son diocèse, demeura pendant de longues années le manuel officiel pour l’enseignement de la doctrine chrétienne, et sa popularité en Italie fut à peine surpassée par le catéchisme de Bellarmin.

Saint Pierre Canisius mourut le 21 décembre 1597, et Pie XI a introduit sa fête dans le Missel romain.

La messe est celle du Commun des Docteurs, mais la première collecte est propre.

L’Église loue, en saint Pierre Canisius, non seulement la sagesse, mais aussi la force héroïque pour soutenu le dogme catholique contre les violences et les embûches des protestants. A cet égard, Canisius peut être comparé à saint Jean Chrysostome, à saint Jean Damascène, à ceux des anciens Docteurs qui non seulement ont enseigné, mais aussi beaucoup souffert pour la foi. En effet, les fatigues et les épreuves supportées par notre saint apôtre pour conserver à l’Allemagne ce trésor de foi catholique que saint Boniface avait jadis consacré de son sang, sont incroyables. Que le laurier du docteur ceigne donc le front de saint Pierre Canisius ; mais qu’à ce laurier la liturgie ajoute aussi le mérite, le martyre, d’une vie missionnaire de près de huit lustres dans un pays hostile à la foi catholique, action missionnaire qui justifie pour Canisius le glorieux surnom de marteau du Luthéranisme.

Dom Pius Parsch, le Guide dans l’année liturgique

Veillons à l’enseignement catholique de nos enfants.

Saint Pierre. — Jour de mort : 21 décembre 1597. Tombeau : dans l’église du collège Saint-Michel à Fribourg, en Suisse. Image : On le représente en Jésuite, avec son catéchisme à la main. Vie : Ce saint est considéré comme le second apôtre de l’Allemagne. Il fut le premier Jésuite allemand (il naquit à Nimègue). Il travailla sans relâche, par ses prédications, ses écrits et ses lettres, au rétablissement et à l’affermissement de la foi catholique en Allemagne, en Suisse, en Autriche. Il est surtout célèbre par son catéchisme qui, aujourd’hui encore, est à la base de tous les catéchismes scolaires allemands. C’est à cause de ce catéchisme que saint Pierre Canisius a été élevé à la dignité de docteur de l’Église.

Pratique : Le catéchisme que le saint nous présente nous suggère deux résolutions : celle d’approfondir de plus en plus la doctrine chrétienne (il ne serait pas superflu, même pour des grandes personnes, d’étudier le catéchisme), et puis celle d’enseigner le catéchisme aux autres.

La messe (In medio). — La messe, dans son ensemble, est empruntée au Commun des docteurs (In medio) avec quelques changements. Dans l’oraison, nous demandons le retour des hérétiques à la foi : « Faites que, par ses exemples et ses leçons, les cœurs des hérétiques viennent à de meilleurs sentiments et au salut ». Le plan pastoral de saint Paul fut aussi celui de saint Pierre Canisius : « Je me suis fait tout à tous pour les sauver tous » (All.). Son enseignement catéchistique trouve un écho dans ces paroles : « Venez, enfants, écoutez-moi, c’est la crainte du Seigneur que je veux vous enseigner » (Off.). A la communion, l’Église chante : « Vous puiserez de l’eau avec joie aux sources du Sauveur ». Saint Pierre Canisius nous a souvent ouvert ces sources et elles coulent abondamment dans la Sainte Eucharistie.




Blessed Peter Canisius (Kannees, Kanys, probably also De Hondt).  

Born at Nimwegen in the Netherlands, 8 May, 1521; died in Fribourg, 21 November, 1597. His father was the wealthy burgomaster, Jacob Canisius; his mother, Ægidia van Houweningen, died shortly after Peter's birth. In 1536 Peter was sent to Cologne, where he studied arts, civil law, and theology at the university; he spent a part of 1539 at the University of Louvain, and in 1540 received the degree of Master of Arts at Cologne. Nicolaus van Esche was his spiritual adviser, and he was on terms of friendship with such staunch Catholics as Georg of Skodborg (the expelled Archbishop of Lund), Johann Gropper (canon of the cathedral), Eberhard Billick (the Carmelite monk), Justus Lanspergius, and other Carthusian monks. Although his father desired him to marry a wealthy young woman, on 25 February, 1540 he pledged himself to celibacy. In 1543 he visited Peter Faber and, having made the "Spiritual Exercises" under his direction, was admitted into the Society of Jesus at Mainz, on 8 May. With the help of Leonhard Kessel and others, Canisius, labouring under great difficulties, founded at Cologne the first German house of the order; at the same time he preached in the city and vicinity, and debated and taught in the university. In 1546 he was admitted to the priesthood, and soon afterwards was sent by the clergy and university to obtain assistance from Emperor Charles V, the nuncio, and the clergy of Liège against the apostate Archbishop, Hermann von Wied, who had attempted to pervert the diocese. In 1547, as the theologian of Cardinal Otto Truchsess von Waldburg, Bishop of Augsburg, he participated in the general ecclesiastical council (which sat first at Trent and then at Bologna), and spoke twice in the congregation of the theologians. After this he spent several months under the direction of Ignatius in Rome. In 1548 he taught rhetoric at Messina, Sicily, preaching in Italian and Latin. At this time Duke William IV of Bavaria requested Paul III to send him some professors from the Society of Jesus for the University of Ingolstadt; Canisius was among those selected.

On 7 September, 1549, he made his solemn profession as Jesuit at Rome, in the presence of the founder of the order. On his journey northward he received, at Bologna, the degree of doctor of theology. On 13 November, accompanied by Fathers Jaius and Salmeron, he reached Ingolstadt, where he taught theology, catechized, and preached. In 1550 he was elected rector of the university, and in 1552 was sent by Ignatius to the new college in Vienna; there he also taught theology in the university, preached at the Cathedral of St. Stephen, and at the court of Ferdinand I, and was confessor at the hospital and prison. During Lent, 1553 he visited many abandoned parishes in Lower Austria, preaching and administering the sacraments. The king's eldest son (later Maximilian II) had appointed to the office of court preacher, Phauser, a married priest, who preached the Lutheran doctrine. Canisius warned Ferdinand I, verbally and in writing, and opposed Phauser in public disputations. Maximilian was obliged to dismiss Phauser and, on this account, the rest of his life he harboured a grudge against Canisius. Ferdinand three times offered him the Bishopric of Vienna, but he refused. In 1557 Julius III appointed him administrator of the bishopric for one year, but Canisius succeeded in ridding himself of this burden (cf. N. Paulus in "Zeitschrift für katholische Theologie", XXII, 742-8). In 1555 he was present at the Diet of Augsburg with Ferdinand, and in 1555-56 he preached in the cathedral of Prague. After long negotiations and preparations he was able to open Jesuit colleges at Ingolstadt and Prague. In the same year Ignatius appointed him first provincial superior of Upper Germany (Swabia, Bavaria, Bohemia, Hungary, Lower and Upper Austria). During the winter of 1556-57 he acted as adviser to the King of the Romans at the Diet of Ratisbon and delivered many sermons in the cathedral. By the appointment of the Catholic princes and the order of the pope he took part in the religious discussions at Worms. As champion of the Catholics he repeatedly spoke in opposition to Melanchthon. The fact that the Protestants disagreed among themselves and were obliged to leave the field was due in a great measure to Canisius. He also preached in the cathedral of Worms.

During Advent and Christmas he visited the Bishop of Strasburg at Zabern, started negotiations for the building of a Jesuit college there, preached, explained the catechism to the children, and heard their confessions. He also preached in the cathedral of Strasburg and strengthened the Catholics of Alsace and Freiburg in their faith. Ferdinand, on his way to Frankfort to be proclaimed emperor, met him at Nuremburg and confided his troubles to him. Then Duke Albert V of Bavaria secured his services; at Straubing the pastors and preachers had fled, after having persuaded the people to turn from the Catholic faith. Canisius remained in the town for six weeks, preaching three or four times a day, and by his gentleness he undid much harm. From Straubing he was called to Rome to be present at the First General Congregation of his order, but before its close Paul IV sent him with the nuncio Mentuati to Poland to the imperial Diet of Pieterkow; at Cracow he addressed the clergy and members of the university. In the year 1559 he was summoned by the emperor to be present at the Diet of Augsburg. There, at the urgent request of the chapter, he became preacher at the cathedral and held this position until 1566. His manuscripts show the care with which he wrote his sermons. In a series of sermons he treats of the end of man, of the Decalogue, the Mass, the prophecies of Jonas; at the same time he rarely omitted to expound the Gospel of the day; he spoke in keeping with the spirit of the age, explained the justification of man, Christian liberty, the proper way of interpreting the Scriptures, defended the worship of saints, the ceremonies of the Church, religious vows, indulgences. urged obedience to the Church authorities, confession, communion, fasting, and almsgiving; he censured the faults of the clergy, at times perhaps too sharply, as he felt that they were public and that he must avoid demanding reformation from the laity only. Against the influence of evil spirits he recommended the means of defence which had been in use in the Church during the first centuries—lively faith, prayer, ecclesiastical benedictions, and acts of penance. From 1561-62 he preached about two hundred and ten sermons, besides giving retreats and teaching catechism. In the cathedral, his confessional and the altar at which he said Mass were surrounded by crowds, and alms were placed on the altar. The envy of some of the cathedral clergy was aroused, and Canisius and his companions were accused of usurping the parochial rights. The pope and bishop favoured the Jesuits, but the majority of the chapter opposed them. Canisius was obliged to sign an agreement according to which he retained the pulpit but gave up the right of administering the sacraments in the cathedral.

In 1559 he opened a college in Munich; in 1562 he appeared at Trent as papal theologian. The council was discussing the question whether communion should be administered under both forms to those of the laity who asked for it. Lainez, the general of the Society of Jesus, opposed it unconditionally. Canisius held that the cup might be administered to the Bohemians and to some Catholics whose faith was not very firm. After one month he departed from Trent, but he continued to support the work of the Fathers by urging the bishops to appear at the council, by giving expert opinion regarding the Index and other matters, by reports on the state of public opinion, and on newly-published books. In the spring of 1563 he rendered a specially important service to the Church; the emperor had come to Innsbruck (near Trent), and had summoned thither several scholars, including Canisius, as advisers. Some of these men fomented the displeasure of the emperor with the pope and the cardinals who presided over the council. For months Canisius strove to reconcile him with the Curia. He has been blamed unjustly for communicating to his general and to the pope's representatives some of Ferdinand's plans, which otherwise might have ended contrary to the intention of all concerned in the dissolution of the council and in a new national apostasy. The emperor finally granted all the pope's demands and the council was able to proceed and to end peacefully. All Rome praised Canisius, but soon after he lost favour with Ferdinand and was denounced as disloyal; at this time he also changed his views regarding the giving of the cup to the laity (in which the emperor saw a means of relieving all his difficulties), saying that such a concession would only tend to confuse faithful Catholics and to encourage the disobedience of the recalcitrant.

In 1562 the College of Innsbruck was opened by Canisius, and at that time he acted as confessor to the "Queen" Magdalena (declared Venerable in 1906 by Pius X; daughter of Ferdinand I, who lived with her four sisters at Innsbruck), and as spiritual adviser to her sisters. At their request he sent them a confessor from the society, and, when Magdalena presided over the convent, which she had founded at Hall, he sent her complete directions for attaining Christian perfection. In 1563 he preached at many monasteries in Swabia; in 1564 he sent the first missionaries to Lower Bavaria, and recommended the provincial synod of Salzburg not to allow the cup to the laity, as it had authority to do; his advice, however, was not accepted. In this year Canisius opened a college at Dillingen and assumed, in the name of the order, the administration of the university which had been founded there by Cardinal Truchsess. In 1565 he took part in the Second General Congregation of the order in Rome. While in Rome he visited Philip, son of the Protestant philologist Joachim Camerarius, at that time a prisoner of the Inquisition, and instructed and consoled him. Pius IV sent him as his secret nuncio to deliver the decrees of the Council of Trent to Germany; the pope also commissioned him to urge their enforcement, to ask the Catholic princes to defend the Church at the coming diet, and to negotiate for the founding of colleges and seminaries. Canisius negotiated more or less successfully with the Electors of Mainz and Trier, with the bishops of Augsburg, Würzburg, Osnabrück, Münster, and Paderborn, with the Duke of Jülich-Cleves-Berg, and with the City and University of Cologne; he also visited Nimwegen, preaching there and at other places; his mission, however, was interrupted by the death of the pope. Pius V desired its continuation, but Canisius requested to be relieved; he said that it aroused suspicions of espionage, of arrogance, and of interference in politics (for a detailed account of his mission see "Stimmen aus Maria-Laach", LXXI, 58, 164, 301).

At the Diet of Augsburg (1566), Canisius and other theologians, by order of the pope, gave their services to the cardinal legate Commendone; with the help of his friends he succeeded, although with great difficulty, in persuading the legate not to issue his protest against the religious peace, and thus prevented a new fratricidal war. The Catholic members of the diet accepted the decrees of the council, the designs of the Protestants were frustrated, and from that time a new and vigorous life began for the Catholics in Germany. In the same year Canisius went to Wiesensteig, where he visited and brought back to the Church the Lutheran Count of Helfenstein and his entire countship, and where he prepared for death two witches who had been abandoned by the Lutheran preachers. In 1567 he preached the Lenten sermons in the cathedral of Würzburg, gave instruction in the Franciscan church twice a week to the children and domestics of the town, and discussed the foundling of a Jesuit college at Würzburg with the bishop. Then followed the diocesan synod of Dillingen (at which Canisius was principal adviser of the Bishop of Augsburg), journeys to Würzburg, Mainz, Speyer, and a visit to the Bishop of Strasburg, whom he advised, though unsuccessfully, to take a coadjutor. At Dillingen he received the application of Stanislaus Kostka to enter the Society af Jesus, and sent him with hearty recommendations to the general of the order at Rome. At this time he successfully settled a dispute in the philosophical faculty of the University of Ingolstadt. In 1567 and 1568 he went several times to Innsbruck, where in the name of the general he consulted with the Archduke Ferdinand II and his sisters about the confessors of the archduchesses and about the establishment of a Jesuit house at Hall. In 1569 the general decided to accept the college at Hall.

During Lent of 1568 Canisius preached at Ellwangen, in Würtemberg; from there he went with Cardinal Truchsess to Rome. The Upper German province of the order had elected the provincial as its representative at the meeting of the procurators; this election was illegal, but Canisius was admitted. For months he collected in the libraries of Rome material for a great work which he was preparing. In 1569 he returned to Augsburg and preached Lenten sermons in the Church of St. Mauritius. Having been a provincial for thirteen years (an unusually long time) he was relieved of the office at his own request, and went to Dillingen, where he wrote, catechized, and heard confessions, his respite, however, was short; in 1570 he was obliged again to go to Augsburg. A year latter he was compelled to move to Innsbruck and to accept the office of court preacher to Archduke Ferdinand II. In 1575 Gregory XIII sent him with papal messages to the archduke and to the Duke of Bavaria. When he arrived in Rome to make his report, the Third General Congregation of the order was assembled and, by special favour, Canisius was invited to be present. From this time he was preacher in the parish church of Innsbruck until the Diet of Ratisbon (1576), which he attended as theologian of the cardinal legate Morone. In the following year he supervised at Ingolstadt the printing of an important work, and induced the students of the university to found a sodality of the Blessed Virgin. During Lent, 1578, he preached at the court of Duke William of Bavaria at Landshut. The nuncio Bonhomini desired to have a college of the society at Fribourg; the order at first refused on account of the lack of men, but the pope intervened and, at the end of 1580, Canisius laid the foundation stone. In 1581 he founded a sodality of the Blessed Virgin among the citizens and, soon afterwards, sodalities for women and students; in 1582 schools were opened, and he preached in the parish church and in other places until 1589.

The canton had not been left uninfluenced by the Protestant movement. Canisius worked indefatigably with the provost Peter Schnewly, the Franciscan Johannes Michel, and others, for the revival of religious sentiments amongst the people; since then Fribourg has remained a stronghold of the Catholic Church. In 1584, while on the way to take part in another meeting of the order at Augsburg, he preached at Lucerne and made a pilgrimage to the miraculous image of the Blessed Virgin at Einsiedeln. According to his own account, it was then that St. Nicholas, the patron saint of Fribourg, made known to him his desire that Canisius should not leave Fribourg again. Many times the superiors of the order planned to transfer him to another house, but the nuncio, the city council, and the citizens themselves opposed the measure; they would not consent to lose this celebrated and saintly man. The last years of his life he devoted to the instruction of converts, to making spiritual addresses to the brothers of the order, to writing and re-editing books. The city authorities ordered his body to be buried before the high altar of the principal church, the Church of St. Nicolaus, from which they were translated in 1625 to that of St. Michael, the church of the Jesuit College.

Canisius held that to defend the Catholic truths with the pen was just as important as to convert the Hindus. At Rome and Trent he strongly urged the appointment at the council, at the papal court, and in other parts of Italy, of able theologians to write in defence of the Catholic faith. He begged Pius V to send yearly subsidies to the Catholic printers of Germany, and to permit German scholars to edit Roman manuscripts; he induced the city council of Fribourg to erect a printing establishment, and he secured special privileges for printers. He also kept in touch with the chief Catholic printers of his time — Plantin of Antwerp, Cholin of Cologne, and Mayer of Dillingen — and had foreign works of importance reprinted in Germany, for example, the works of Andrada, Fontidonio, and Villalpando in defence of the Council of Trent.

Canisius advised the generals of the order to create a college of authors; urged scholars like Bartholomæus Latomus, Friedrich Staphylus, and Hieronymus Torensis to publish their works; assisted Onofrio Panvinio and the polemic Stanislaus Hosius, reading their manuscripts and correcting proofs; and contributed to the work of his friend Surius on the councils. At his solicitation the "Briefe aus Indien", the first relations of Catholic missioners, were published (Dillingen, 1563-71); "Canisius", wrote the Protestant preacher, Witz, "by this activity gave an impulse which deserves our undivided recognition, indeed which arouses our admiration" ("Petrus Canisius", Vienna, 1897, p. 12).

The latest bibliography of the Society of Jesus devotes thirty-eight quarto pages to a list of the works published by Canisius and their different editions, and it must be added that this list is incomplete. The most important of his works are described below; the asterisk signifies that the work bears the name of Canisius neither on the title page nor in the preface. His chief work is his triple "Catechism". In 1551 King Ferdinand I asked the University of Vienna to write a compendium of Christian doctrine, and Canisius wrote (Vienna, 1555), at first for advanced students, his "Summa doctrinæ christianæ . . . in usum Christianæ pueritiæ", two hundred and eleven questions in five chapters (the first edition appeared without the name of the author, but later all three catechisms bore his name); then a short extract for school children, "Summa . . . ad captum rudiorum accommodata" (Ingolstadt, 1556), was published as an appendix to the "Principia Grammatices"; his catechism for students of the lower and middle grades, "Parvus Catechismus Catholicorum" (later known as "Institutiones christianæ pietatis" or "Catechismus catholicus"), is an extract from the larger catechism, written in the winter of 1557-58. Of the first Latin edition (Cologne, 1558), no copy is known to exist; the German edition appeared at Dillingen, 1560. The "Summa" only received its definite form in the Cologne edition of 1556; it contains two hundred and twenty-two questions, and two thousand quotations from the Scriptures, and about twelve hundred quotations from the Fathers of the Church are inscribed on the margins; later all these quotations were compiled in the original by Peter Busæus, S.J., and appeared in four quarto volumes under the title "Authoritates Sacræ Scripturæ et Sanctorum patrum" etc. (Cologne, 1569-70); in 1557 Johannes Hasius, S.J., published the same work in one large folio volume, entitled "Opus catechisticum", for which Canisius wrote an introduction. The catechism of Canisius is remarkable for its ecclesiastically correct teachings, its clear, positive sentences, its mild and dignified form. It is today recognized as a masterpiece even by non-Catholics, e.g., the historians Ranke, Menzel, Philippson, and the theologians Kawerau, Rouffet, Zerschwitz.

Pius V entrusted Canisius with the confutation of the Centuriators of Magdeburg. Canisius undertook to prove the dishonesty of the centuriators by exposing their treatment of the principal persons in the GospelJohn the Baptist, the Mother of God, the Apostle St. Peter—and published (Dillingen, 1571) his next most important work, "Commentariorum de Verbi Dei corruptelis liber primus: in quo de Sanctissimi Præcursoris Domini Joannis Baptistæ Historia Evangelica . . . pertractatur". Here the confutation of the principal errors of Protestantism is exegetical and historical rather than scholastical; in 1577 "De Maria Virgine incomparabili, et Dei Genitrice sacrosancta, libri quinque" was published at Ingolstadt. Later he united these two works into one book of two volumes, "Commentariorum de Verbi corruptelis" (Ingolstadt, 1583, and later Paris and Lyons); the treatise on St. Peter and his primacy was only begun; the work on the Virgin Mary contains some quotations from the Fathers of the Church that had not been printed previously, and treats of the worship of Mary by the Church. A celebrated theologian of the present day called this work a classic defence of the whole Catholic doctrine about the Blessed Virgin (Scheeben, "Dogmatik", III, 478); in 1543 he published (under the name of Petrus Nouiomagus) "Des erleuchten D. Johannis Tauleri, von eym waren Euangelischen leben, Göttliche Predig. Leren" etc., in which several writings of the Dominican mystic appear in print for the first time. This was the first book published by a Jesuit. "Divi Cyrilli archiepiscopi Alexandrini Opera" (Latin translation, 2 fol. vols., Cologne, 1546); "D. Leonis Papæ huius nominis primi . . . Opera" (Cologne, 1546, later reprinted at Venice, Louvain, and Cologne), Leo is brought forward as a witness for the Catholic teachings and the discipline of the Church against the innovators; "De consolandis ægrotis" (Vienna, 1554), exhortations (Latin, German, and Italian) and prayers, with a preface by Canisius; "Lectiones et Precationes Ecclesiasticæ" (Ingolstadt, 1556), a prayerbook for students, reprinted more than thirty times under the titles of "Epistolæ et Evangelia" etc.; *"Principia grammatices" (Ingolstadt, 1556); Hannibal Codrett's Latin Grammar, adapted for German students by Canisius, reprinted in 1561, 1564 and 1568; *"Ordnung der Letaney von vnser lieben Frawen" [Dillingen (1558)], the first known printing of the Litany of Loreto, the second (Macerata, 1576) was most probably arranged by Canisius; *"Vom abschiedt des Coloquij zu Wormbs" (s. l. a., 1558?).

*"Ain Christlicher Bericht, was die hailige Christliche Kirch . . . sey" (Dillingen, 1559), translation and preface by Canisius (cf. N. Paulus in "Historischpolit. Blätter", CXXI, 765); "Epistolæ B. Hieronymi . . . selectæ" (Dillingen, 1562), a school edition arranged and prefaced by, Canisius and later reprinted about forty times; "Hortulus Animæ", a German prayer-book arranged by Canisius (Dillingen, 1563), reprinted later, probably published also in Latin by him. The "Hortuli" were placed later on the Index nisi corrigantur; *"Von der Gesellschaft Jesu Durch. Joannem Albertum Wimpinensem" (Ingolstadt, 1563), a defence of the order against Chemnitz and Zanger, the greater part of which was written by Canisius; "Institutiones, et Exercitamentas Christianæ Pietatis" (Antwerp, 1566), many times reprinted, in which Canisius combined the catechism for the middle grades and the "Lectiones et Precationes ecclesiasticæ" (revised in Rome); "Beicht und Communionbüchlein" [Dillingen, 1567 (?), 1575, 1579, 1582, 1603; Ingolstadt, 1594, etc.]; "Christenliche . . . Predig von den vier Sontagen im Aduent, auch vonn dem heiligen Christag" (Dillingen, 1570).

At the request of Ferdinand II of Tyrol, Canisius supervised the publishing of *"Von dem hoch und weitberhümpten Wunderzeichen, so sich . . . auf dem Seefeld . . . zugetragen" (Dillingen, 1580), and wrote a long preface for it; then appeared "Zwey vnd neuntzig Betrachtung vnd Gebett, dess . . . Bruders Clausen von Vnterwalden" (Fribourg, 1586); "Manuale Catholicorum. In usum pie precandi" (Fribourg, 1587); "Zwo . . . Historien . . . Die erste von . . . S. Beato, ersten Prediger in Schweitzerland. Die andere von . . . S. Fridolino, ersten Prediger zu Glaris vnd Seckingen" (Fribourg, 1590): in this, the first of the popular biographies of the saints especially worshipped in Switzerland, Canisius does not give a scholarly essay, but endeavours to strengthen the Catholic Swiss in their faith and arouse their piety; "Notæ in Evangelicas lectiones, quæ per totum annum Dominicis diebus . . . recitantur (Fribourg, 1591), a large quarto volume valuable for sermons and meditations for the clergy; "Miserere, das ist: Der 50. Psalm Davids . . . Gebettsweiss . . . aussgelegt" (Munich, 1594, Ingolstadt, 1594); "Warhafte Histori . . . Von Sanct Moritzen . . . vnd seiner Thebaischen Legion . . . Auch insonderheit von Sanct Vrso" (Fribourg, 1594); *"Catholische Kirchengesäng zum theil vor vnd nach dem Catechismo zum teil sonst durchs Jahr . . . zusingen" (Fribourg, 1596); "Enchiridion Pietatis quo ad precandum Deum instruitur Princeps" (s. l., 1751), dedicated by Canisius in 1592 to the future emperor Ferdinand II (Zeitschrift für katholische Theologie; XIV, 741); "Beati Petri Canisii Exhortationes domesticæ", mostly short sketches, collected and edited by G. Schlosser, S.J. (Roermond, 1876); "Beati Petri Canisii Epistulæ et Acta": 1541-65, edited by O. Braunsberger, S.J. (4 vols., Freiburg im Br., 1896-1905). There still remain unpublished four or five volumes containing eleven hundred and ninety-five letters and regesta written to or by Canisius, and six hundred and twenty-five documents dealing with his labours.

"Peter Canisius", says the Protestant professor of theology, Krüger, "was a noble Jesuit; no blemish stains his character" ("Petrus Canisius" in "Geschichte u. Legende", Giessen, 1898, 10). The principal trait of his character was love for Christ and for his work; he devoted his life to defend, propagate, and strengthen the Church. Hence his devotion to the pope. He did not deny the abuses which existed in Rome; he demanded speedy remedies; but the supreme and full power of the pope over the whole Church, and the infallibility of his teaching as Head of the Church, Canisius championed as vigorously as the Italian and Spanish brothers of the order. He cannot be called an "Episcopalian" or "Semi-Gallican"; his motto was "whoever adheres to the Chair of St. Peter is my man. With Ambrose I desire to follow the Church of Rome in every respect". Pius V wished to make him cardinal. The bishops, Brendel of Mains, Brus of Prague, Pflug of Naumburg, Blarer of Basle, Cromer of Ermland, and Spaur of Brixen, held him in great esteem. St. Francis of Sales sought his advice by letter. He enjoyed the friendship of the most distinguished members of the College of CardinalsBorromeo, Hosius, Truchsess, Commendone, Morone, Sirlet; of the nuncios Delfino, Portia, Bonhomini and others; of many leading exponents of ecclesiastical learning; and of such prominent men as the Chancellor of the University of Louvain, Ruard Tapper, the provost Martin Eisengrein, Friedrich Staphylus, Franz Sonnius, Martin Rithovius, Wilhelm Lindanus, the imperial vice-chancellors Jacob Jonas and Georg Sigismund Seld, the Bavarian chancellor Simon Thaddaeus Eck, and the Fuggers and Welsers of Augsburg. "Canisius's whole life", writes the Swiss Protestant theologian Gautier, "is animated by the desire to form a generation of devout clerics capable of serving the Church worthily" ("Etude sur la correspondance de Pierre Canisius", Geneva, 1905, p. 46). At Ingolstadt he held disputations and homiletic exercises among the young clerics, and endeavoured to raise the religious and scientific standard of the Georgianum. He collected for and sent pupils to the German College at Rome and provided for pupils who had returned home. He also urged Gregory XIII to make donations and to found similar institutions in Germany; soon papal seminaries were built at Prague, Fulda, Braunsberg, and Dillingen. At Ingolstadt, Innsbruck, Munich, and Vienna schools were built under the guidance of Canisius for the nobility and the poor, the former to educate the clergy of the cathedrals, the latter for the clergy of the lower grades. The reformed ordinances published at that time for the Universities of Cologne, Ingolstadt, and Vienna must be credited in the main to his suggestions.

With apostolic zeal he loved the Society of Jesus; the day of his admission to the order he called his second birthday. Obedience to his superiors was his first rule. As a superior he cared with parental love for the necessities of his subordinates. Shortly before his death he declared that he had never regretted becoming a Jesuit, and recalled the abuses which the opponents of the Church had heaped upon his order and his person. Johann Wigand wrote a vile pamphlet against his "Catechism"; Flacius Illyricus, Johann Gnypheus, and Paul Scheidlich wrote books against it; Melanchthon declared that he defended errors wilfully; Chemnitz called him a cynic; the satirist Fischart scoffed at him; Andreæ Dathen, Gallus, Hesshusen, Osiander, Platzius, Roding, Vergerio, and others wrote vigorous attacks against him; at Prague the Hussites threw stones into the church where he was saying Mass; at Berne he was derided by a Protestant mob. At Easter, 1568, he was obliged to preach in the Cathedral of Würzburg in order to disprove the rumour that he had become a Protestant. Unembittered by all this, he said, "the more our opponents calumniate us, the more we must love them". He requested Catholic authors to advocate the truth with modesty and dignity without scoffing or ridicule. The names of Luther and Melanchthon were never mentioned in his "Catechism". His love for the German people is characteristic; he urged the brothers of the order to practise German diligently, and he liked to hear the German national hymns sung. At his desire St. Ignatius decreed that all the members of the order should offer monthly Masses and prayers for the welfare of Germany and the North. Ever the faithful advocate of the Germans at the Holy See, he obtained clemency for them in questions of ecclesiastical censures, and permission to give extraordinary absolutions and to dispense from the law of fasting. He also wished the Index to be modified that German confessors might be authorized to permit the reading of some books, but in his sermons he warned the faithful to abstain from reading such books without permission. While he was rector of the University of Ingolstadt, a resolution was passed forbidding the use of Protestant textbooks and, at his request, the Duke of Bavaria forbade the importation of books opposed to religion and morals. At Cologne he requested the town council to forbid the printing or sale of books hostile to the Faith or immoral, and in the Tyrol had Archduke Ferdinand II suppress such books. He also advised Bishop Urban of Gurk, the court preacher of Ferdinand I, not to read so many Protestant books, but to study instead the Scriptures and the writings of the Fathers. At Nimwegen he searched the libraries of his friends, and burned all heretical books. In the midst of all these cares Canisius remained essentially a man of prayer; he was an ardent advocate of the Rosary and its sodalities. He was also one of the precursors of the modern devotion of the Sacred Heart.

During his lifetime his "Catechism" appeared in more than 200 editions in at least twelve languages. It was one of the works which influenced St. Aloysius Gonzaga to enter the Society of Jesus; it converted, among others, Count Palatine Wolfgang Wilhelm of Neuburg; and as late as the eighteenth century in many places the words "Canisi" and catechism were synonymous. It remained the foundation and pattern for the catechisms printed later. His preaching also had great influence; in 1560 the clergy of the cathedral of Augsburg testified that by his sermons nine hundred persons had been brought back to the Church, and in May, 1562, it was reported the Easter communicants numbered one thousand more than in former years. Canisius induced some of the prominent Fuggers to return to the Church, and converted the leader of the Augsburg Anabaptists. In 1537 the Catholic clergy had been banished from Augsburg by the city council; but after the preaching of Canisius public processions were held, monasteries gained novices, people crowded to the jubilee indulgence, pilgrimages were revived, and frequent Communion again became the rule. After the elections of 1562 there were eighteen Protestants and twenty-seven Catholics on the city council. He received the approbation of Pius IV by a special Brief in 1561. Great services were rendered by Canisius to the Church through the extension of the Society of Jesus; the difficulties were great: lack of novices, insufficient education of some of the younger members, poverty, plague, animosity of the Protestants, jealousy on the part of fellow-Catholics, the interference of princes and city councils. Notwithstanding all this, Canisius introduced the order into Bavaria, Bohemia, Swabia, the Tyrol, and Hungary, and prepared the way in Alsace, the Palatinate, Hesse, and Poland. Even opponents admit that to the Jesuits principally is due the credit of saving a large part of Germany from religious innovation. In this work Canisius was the leader. In many respects Canisius was the product of an age which believed in strange miracles, put witches to death, and had recourse to force against the adherents of another faith; but notwithstanding all this, Johannes Janssen does not hesitate to declare that Canisius was the most prominent and most influential Catholic reformer of the sixteenth century (Geschichte des deutschen Volkes, 15th and 16th editions, IV, p. 406). "Canisius more than any other man", writes A. Chroust, "saved for the Church of Rome the Catholic Germany of today" (Deutsche Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft, new series, II, 106). It has often been declared that Canisius in many ways resembles St. Boniface, and he is therefore called the second Apostle of Germany. The Protestant professor of theology, Paul Drews, says: "It must be admitted that, from the standpoint of Rome, he deserves the title of Apostle of Germany" ("Petrus Canisius", Halle, 1892, p. 103).


Soon after his death reports spread of the miraculous help obtained by invoking his name. His tomb was visited by pilgrims. The Society of Jesus decided to urge his beatification. The ecclesiastical investigations of his virtues and miracles were at first conducted by the Bishops of Fribourg, Dillingen, and Freising (1625-90); the apostolic proceedings began in 1734, but were interrupted by political and religions disorders. Gregory XVI resumed them about 1833; Pius IX on 17 April, 1864, approved of four of the miracles submitted, and on 20 November, 1869, the solemn beatification took place in St. Peter's at Rome. In connection with this, there appeared between 1864-66 more than thirty different biographies. On the occasion of the tercentenary of his death, Leo XIII issued to the bishops of Austria, Germany, and Switzerland his much-discussed "Epistola Encyclica de memoria sæculari B. Petri Canisii"; the bishops of Switzerland issued a collective pastoral; in numerous places of Europe and in some places in the United States this tercentenary was celebrated and about fifty pamphlets were published. In order to encourage the veneration of Canisius there is published at Fribourg, Switzerland, monthly since 1896, the "Canisius-Stimmen" (in German and French). The infirmary of the College of St. Michael, in which Canisius died, is now a chapel. Vestments and other objects which he used are kept in different houses of the order. The Canisius College at Buffalo possesses precious relics. In the house of Canisius in the Broersstraat at Nimwegen the room is still shown where he was born. Other memorials are: the Canisius statue in one of the public squares of Fribourg, the statue in the cathedral of Augsburg, the Church of the Holy Saviour and the Mother of Sorrows, recently built in his memory in Vienna, and the new Canisius College at Nimwegen. At the twenty-sixth general meeting of German Catholics held at Aachen, 1879, a Canisius society for the religious education of the young was founded. The general prayer, said every Sunday in the churches originated by Canisius, is still in use in the greater part of Germany, and also in many places in Austria and Switzerland. Various portraits of Canisius exist: in the Churches of St. Nicolaus and St. Michael in Fribourg; in the vestry of the Augsburg Cathedral; in the Church of St. Michael at Munich; in the town hall at Nimwegen; in the town hall at Ingolstadt; in the Cistercian monastery at Stams. The woodcut in Pantaleo, "Prosopographia", III (Basle, 1566), is worthless. Copper-plates were produced by Wierx (1619), Custos (1612), Sadeler (1628), Hainzelmann (1693), etc. In the nineteenth century are: Fracassini's painting in the Vatican; Jeckel's steel engraving; Leo Samberger's painting; Steinle's engraving (1886). In most of these pictures Canisius is represented with his catechism and other books, or surrounded by children whom he is instructing. (See CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE; COUNTER-REFORMATION; SOCIETY OF JESUS.)

Sources

B.P. Canisii Epist. et Acta, ed. BRAUNSBERGER, (5 vols., Freiburg im Br., 1896-1905) s.v. Confessions and Testamentum; the Beatification Acts (some printed as manuscripts in only a few copies, the others unprinted); Mon. Hist. Societatis Jesu: Chronicon Polanci, Epistola quadrimestres mittæ etc., so far about thirty volumes (Madrid. 1894--). Of the complete biographies, the following are the most important: RADERUS, De Vita Canisii (Munich, 1614); SACCHINUS, De vita et rebus gestis P. Petri Canisii (Ingolstadt, 1616); BOERO, Vita del Beato Pietro Canisio (Rome, 1864); RIESS, Der selige Petrus Canisius (Freiburg, 1865); LE BACHELET in Dict. de Théol. Cath. (Paris, 1905), s.v. Canisius. Biographies, in German: by PRATISS (Vienna, 1865), MARCOUR (Freiburg, 1881), PFÜLF (Einsiedeln, 1897), MEHLER (Ratisbon, 1897); in Latin by PYTHON (Munich, 1710); in French by DORIGNY (Paris, 1707), SÉGUIN (Paris, 1864), BOVET (Fribourg, 1865, 1881), DE BERTIGNY (Fribourg, 1865), MICHEL (Lille, 1897); in Dutch by DE SMIDT (Antwerp, 1652), SÉGUIN-ALLARD (Nimwegen, 1897); in Italian by FULIGIATTI (Rome, 1649), ODDI (Naples, 1755); in Spanish by NIEREMBERG (Madrid, 1633), GARCIA (Madrid, 1865). Cf. also KROSS, Der selige Petrus Canisius in Oesterreich (Vienna, 1898), from manuscript sources; REISER, B. Petrus Canisius als Katechet (Mainz, 1882); ALLARD, Canisiana, from the Dutch Studien (Utrecht, 1898-99); BRAUNSBERGER, Entstehung u. erste Entwicklung d. Katechismen d. seligen Petrus Canisius (Freiburg, 1893); SOMMERVOGEL, Bibliothèque de la C. de J. (new ed., Brussels and Paris, 1890-1900), II, 617-88; VIII, 1974-83; DUHR, Gesch. d. Jesuiten in den Länden deutscher Zunge, I (Freiburg, 1907); various Nuntiature Reports of Germany and Switzerland published by STEINHERZ, SCHELLHASS, HANSEN, STEFFENS-REINHARDT, etc.

SOURCE : http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11756c.htm


St. Peter Canisius

In 1565, the Vatican was looking for a secret agent. It was shortly after the Council of Trent and the pope wanted to get the decrees of the Council to all the European bishops. What would be a simple errand in our day, was a dangerous assignment in the sixteenth century. The first envoy who tried to carry the decrees through territory of hostile Protestants and vicious thieves was robbed of the precious documents. Rome needed someone courageous but also someone above suspicion.

They chose Peter Canisius.

At 43 he was a well-known Jesuit who had founded colleges that even Protestants respected. They gave him a cover as official “visitor” of Jesuit foundations. But Peter couldn’t hide the decrees like our modern fictional spies with their microfilmed messages in collar buttons or cans of shaving cream. Peter traveled from Rome and crisscrossed Germany successfully loaded down with the Tridentine tomes — 250 pages each — not to mention the three sacks of books he took along for his own university!

Why did the Vatican choose Peter Canisius for this delicate task? Born in Holland in 1521, Peter had edited and written several volumes on Church history and theology, been a delegate to the Council of Trent, and reformed the German universities from heresy. Called to Vienna to reform their university, he couldn’t win the people with preaching or fancy words spoken in his German accent. He won their hearts by ministering to the sick and dying during a plague. The people, the king, and the pope all wanted to make Peter bishop of Vienna, but Peter declined vigorously and administered the diocese for a year.

For many years during the Reformation, Peter saw the students in his universities swayed by the flashy speeches and the well-written arguments of the Protestants. Peter was not alone in wishing for a Catholic catechism that would present true Catholic beliefs undistorted by fanatics. Finally King Ferdinand himself ordered Peter and his companions to write a catechism. This hot potato got tossed from person to person until Peter and his friend Lejay were assigned to write it. Lejay was obviously the logical choice, being a better writer than Peter. So Peter relaxed and sat back to offer any help he could.

When Father Lejay died, King Ferdinand would wait no longer. Peter said of writing: “I have never learned to be elegant as a writer, but I cannot remain dumb on that account.” The first issue of the Catechism appeared in 1555 and was an immediate success. Peter approached Christian doctrine in two parts: wisdom — including faith, hope, and charity — and justice — avoiding evil and doing good, linked by a section on sacraments.

Because of the success and the need, Peter quickly produced two more versions: a Shorter Catechism for middle school students which concentrated on helping this age group choose good over evil by concentrating on a different virtue each day of the week; and a Shortest Catechism for young children which included prayers for morning and evening, for mealtimes, and so forth to get them used to praying.

As intent as Peter was on keeping people true to the Catholic faith, he followed the Jesuit policy that harsh words should not be used, that those listening would see an example of charity in the way Catholics acted and preached. However, his companions were not always as willing. He showed great patience and insight with one man, Father Couvillon.

Couvillon was so sharp and hostile that he was alienating his companions and students. Anyone who confronted him became the subject of abuse. It became obvious that Couvillon suffered from emotional illness. But Peter did not let that knowledge blind him to the fact that Couvillon was still a brilliant and talented man.

Instead of asking Couvillon to resign he begged him to stay on as a teacher and then appointed him as his secretary. Peter thought that Couvillon needed to worry less about himself and pray more and work harder. He didn’t coddle him but gave Couvillon blunt advice about his pride. Coming from Peter this seemed to help Couvillon. Peter consulted Couvillon often on business of the Province and asked him to translate Jesuit letters from India. Thanks to Peter , even though Couvillon continued to suffer depression for years, he also accomplished much good.

Peter died in December 21, 1597. He is known as the Second Apostle of Germany and was named a Doctor of the Church.

SOURCE : http://www.ucatholic.com/saints/saint-peter-canisius/


BENEDICT XVI

GENERAL AUDIENCE

Paul VI Audience Hall

Wednesday, 9 February 2011


Saint Peter Canisius

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today I want to talk to you about St Peter Kanis, Canisius in the Latin form of his surname, a very important figure of the Catholic 16th century.

He was born on 8 May 1521 in Wijmegen, Holland. His father was Burgomaster of the town. While he was a student at the University of Cologne he regularly visited the Carthusian monks of St Barbara, a driving force of Catholic life, and other devout men who cultivated the spirituality of the so-called devotio moderna [modern devotion].

He entered the Society of Jesus on 8 May 1543 in Mainz (Rhineland — Palatinate), after taking a course of spiritual exercises under the guidance of Bl. Pierre Favre, Petrus [Peter] Faber, one of St Ignatius of Loyola’s first companions.

He was ordained a priest in Cologne. Already the following year, in June 1546, he attended the Council of Trent, as the theologian of Cardinal Otto Truchsess von Waldburg, Bishop of Augsberg, where he worked with two confreres, Diego Laínez and Alfonso Salmerón. In 1548, St Ignatius had him complete his spiritual formation in Rome and then sent him to the College of Messina to carry out humble domestic duties.

He earned a doctorate in theology at Bologna on 4 October 1549 and St Ignatius assigned him to carry out the apostolate in Germany. On 2 September of that same year he visited Pope Paul III at Castel Gandolfo and then went to St Peter’s Basilica to pray. Here he implored the great Holy Apostles Peter and Paul for help to make the Apostolic Blessing permanently effective for the future of his important new mission. He noted several words of this prayer in his spiritual journal.

He said: “There I felt that a great consolation and the presence of grace had been granted to me through these intercessors [Peter and Paul]. They confirmed my mission in Germany and seemed to transmit to me, as an apostle of Germany, the support of their benevolence. You know, Lord, in how many ways and how often on that same day you entrusted Germany to me, which I was later to continue to be concerned about and for which I would have liked to live and die”.

We must bear in mind that we are dealing with the time of the Lutheran Reformation, at the moment when the Catholic faith in the German-speaking countries seemed to be dying out in the face of the fascination of the Reformation. The task of Canisius — charged with revitalizing or renewing the Catholic faith in the Germanic countries — was almost impossible.

It was possible only by virtue of prayer. It was possible only from the centre, namely, a profound personal friendship with Jesus Christ, a friendship with Christ in his Body, the Church, which must be nourished by the Eucharist, his Real Presence.

In obedience to the mission received from Ignatius and from Pope Paul III, Canisius left for Germany. He went first to the Duchy of Bavaria, which for several years was the place where he exercised his ministry.

As dean, rector and vice chancellor of the University of Ingolstadt, he supervised the academic life of the Institute and the religious and moral reform of the people. In Vienna, where for a brief time he was diocesan administrator, he carried out his pastoral ministry in hospitals and prisons, both in the city and in the countryside, and prepared the publication of his Catechism. In 1556 he founded the College of Prague and, until 1569, was the first superior of the Jesuit Province of Upper Germany.

In this office he established a dense network of communities of his Order in the Germanic countries, especially colleges, that were starting points for the Catholic Reformation, for the renewal of the Catholic faith.

At that time he also took part in the Colloquy of Worms with Protestant divines, including Philip Melanchthon (1557); He served as Papal Nuncio in Poland (1558); he took part in the two Diets of Augsberg (1559 and 1565); he accompanied Cardinal Stanislaw Hozjusz, Legate of Pope Pius IV, to Emperor Ferdinand (1560); and he took part in the last session of the Council of Trent where he spoke on the issue of Communion under both Species and on the Index of Prohibited Books (1562).
In 1580 he withdrew to Fribourg, Switzerland, where he devoted himself entirely to preaching and writing. He died there on 21 December 1597. Bl. Pius IX beatified him in 1864 and in 1897 Pope Leo XIII proclaimed him the “Second Apostle of Germany”. Pope Pius XI canonized him and proclaimed him a Doctor of the Church in 1925.

St Peter Canisius spent a large part of his life in touch with the most important people of his time and exercised a special influence with his writings. He edited the complete works of Cyril of Alexandria and of St Leo the Great, the Letters of St Jerome and the Orations of St Nicholas of Flüe. He published devotional books in various languages, biographies of several Swiss Saints and numerous homiletic texts.

However, his most widely disseminated writings were the three Catechisms he compiled between 1555 and 1558. The first Catechism was addressed to students who could grasp the elementary notions of theology; the second, to young people of the populace for an initial religious instruction; the third, to youth with a scholastic formation of middle and high school levels. He explained Catholic doctrine with questions and answers, concisely, in biblical terms, with great clarity and with no polemical overtones.

There were at least 200 editions of this Catechism in his lifetime alone! And hundreds of editions succeeded one another until the 20th century. So it was that still in my father’s generation people in Germany were calling the Catechism simply “the Canisius”. He really was the Catechist of Germany for centuries, he formed people’s faith for centuries.

This was a characteristic of St Peter Canisius: his ability to combine harmoniously fidelity to dogmatic principles with the respect that is due to every person. St Canisius distinguished between a conscious, blameworthy apostosy from faith and a blameless loss of faith through circumstances.

Moreover, he declared to Rome that the majority of Germans who switched to Protestantism were blameless. In a historical period of strong confessional differences, Canisius avoided — and this is something quite extraordinary — the harshness and rhetoric of anger — something rare, as I said, in the discussions between Christians in those times — and aimed only at presenting the spiritual roots and at reviving the faith in the Church. His vast and penetrating knowledge of Sacred Scripture and of the Fathers of the Church served this cause: the same knowledge that supported his personal relationship with God and the austere spirituality that he derived from the Devotio Moderna and Rhenish mysticism.

Characteristic of St Canisius’ spirituality was his profound personal friendship with Jesus. For example, on 4 September 1549 he wrote in his journal, speaking with the Lord: "In the end, as if you were opening to me the heart of the Most Sacred Body, which it seemed to me I saw before me, you commanded me to drink from that source, inviting me, as it were, to draw the waters of my salvation from your founts, O my Saviour”.

Then he saw that the Saviour was giving him a garment with three pieces that were called peace, love and perseverance. And with this garment, made up of peace, love and perseverance, Canisius carried out his work of renewing Catholicism. His friendship with Jesus — which was the core of his personality — nourished by love of the Bible, by love of the Blessed Sacrament and by love of the Fathers, this friendship was clearly united with the awareness of being a perpetuator of the Apostles’ mission in the Church. And this reminds us that every genuine evangelizer is always an instrument united with Jesus and with his Church and is fruitful for this very reason.

Friendship with Jesus had been inculcated in St Peter Canisius in the spiritual environment of the Charterhouse of Cologne, in which he had been in close contact with two Carthusian mystics: Johannes Lansperger, whose name has been Latinized as “Lanspergius” and Nikolaus van Esche, Latinized as “Eschius”.

He subsequently deepened the experience of this friendship, familiaritas stupenda nimis, through contemplation of the mysteries of Jesus’ life, which form a large part of St Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises. This is the foundation of his intense devotion to the Heart of the Lord, which culminated in his consecration to the apostolic ministry in the Vatican Basilica.

The Christocentric spirituality of St Peter Canisius is rooted in a profound conviction: no soul anxious for perfection fails to practice prayer daily, mental prayer, an ordinary means that enables the disciple of Jesus to live in intimacy with the divine Teacher.

For this reason in his writings for the spiritual education of the people, our Saint insists on the importance of the Liturgy with his comments on the Gospels, on Feasts, on the Rite of Holy Mass and on the sacraments; yet, at the same time, he is careful to show the faithful the need for and beauty of personal daily prayer, which should accompany and permeate participation in the public worship of the Church.

This exhortation and method have kept their value intact, especially after being authoritatively proposed anew by the Second Vatican Council in the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium: Christian life does not develop unless it is nourished by participation in the Liturgy — particularly at Sunday Mass — and by personal daily prayer, by personal contact with God.

Among the thousands of activities and multiple distractions that surround us, we must find moments for recollection before the Lord every day, in order to listen to him and speak with him.

At the same time, the example that St Peter Canisius has bequeathed to us, not only in his works but especially with his life, is ever timely and of lasting value. He teaches clearly that the apostolic ministry is effective and produces fruits of salvation in hearts only if the preacher is a personal witness of Jesus and an instrument at his disposal, bound to him closely by faith in his Gospel and in his Church, by a morally consistent life and by prayer as ceaseless as love. And this is true for every Christian who wishes to live his adherence to Christ with commitment and fidelity. Thank you.


To special groups:

I extend a warm welcome to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, especially those from Japan and Malaysia, students from Loyola University and the University of St Thomas, as well as students from the Highlands Institute and the Irish Institute in Rome. Upon all of you, I invoke God’s Blessings of joy and peace!

Lastly my thoughts go to the young people, the sick and the newlyweds. Yesterday we celebrated the liturgical Memorial of St Jerome Emiliani, the Founder of the Somaschi Fathers, and of St Josephine Bakhita, a daughter of Africa who became a daughter of the Church.

May the courage of these faithful witnesses of Christ help you, dear young people, to open your hearts to the heroism of holiness in everyday life. May it sustain you, dear sick people, in persevering patiently in order to offer your prayers and your suffering for the whole Church. And may it give you, dear newlyweds, the courage to make your families communities of love, impressed with Christian values.


© Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


SOURCE : http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2011/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20110209_en.html

Peter Canisius (Kanis), SJ, Priest Doctor (RM)

Born in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, in May 8, 1521; died in Fribourg, Switzerland, December 21, 1597; canonized and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1925; feast day formerly April 27. From the disorders of the 16th century Catholic Church, which helped to create the Protestant Reformation, sprung Peter Canisius. He stood out as the leader of the Counter-Reformation in German lands because his scholarship and theological insight, his courtesy and learning commanded the respect even of his opponents.



Peter was the eldest son of Jacob Kanis, who was elected burgomaster of Nijmegan nine times and was made a nobleman after tutoring the sons of the duke of Lorraine--a staunch holdout for Catholics. When Peter's mother died, his father remarried, and his stepmother raised his religiously. Although he went to the University of Cologne and then to Louvain with the intention of becoming a canon lawyer, he grew more and more entranced by the study of theology. He realized that a legal career and marriage would not satisfy him, so he took a vow of celibacy, and returned to Cologne to continue his theological studies.

Under the inspiration of a Jesuit named Peter Fabre during a retreat in Mainz, Canisius joined the Society of Jesus in 1543. Canisius gave his inheritance to the poor, became a novice, and lived a community life in Cologne, where he engaged in visiting the sick and giving religious instruction. He also found time to write editions on the works of Saint Cyril of Alexandria and Saint Leo the Great.
After his ordination in 1546, Canisius earned a reputation as a preacher. He attended two sessions of the Council of Trent as a delegate. Saint Ignatius Loyola summoned him to Rome to assist him for five months. He then went to Messina to teach in the first Jesuit school, but returned shortly to Rome. At the request of Duke William IV of Bavaria, Canisius went to Bavaria as a professor to counteract heresy in the schools. Peter reformed the university at Ingolstadt and was named rector and then vice chancellor.

In 1552, he was called to Vienna by King Ferdinand to fulfill a similar function. The churches were poorly attended when he arrived, but he earned the trust and following of the people by his efforts to relieve the sick and dying during an outbreak of the plague. The king and the papal nuncio wanted him to become archbishop of Vienna. Instead he consented to administer the see for only one year, without episcopal orders, title, or benefits.

The parishes were virtually without clergy, the monasteries deserted, and there had been no ordinations for 20 years (and we think we have a vocational crisis!). During this period he began work on his finest work, Summary of Christian Doctrine (Summa Doctrinae Christianae), a catechism of 211 questions and answers written in Latin and German. Published in 1555, it went through 200 editions before his death and was translated into 15 European languages.

Canisius next went to Prague (in 1556) to found a college and was made provincial, against his will, of a new province that encompassed southern Germany, Austria, and Bohemia. The college gained such a reputation that Protestants sent their children to it, and in two years, Peter brought most of the city back to the faith.

He moved to Augsburg, Germany, in 1559, at the request of King Ferdinand, and induced there a similar revival of the faith. He also influenced the Reichstag to restore public schools. Throughout his life he insisted upon the importance of schools and writing for publication. In fact, he is one of the founders of the Catholic press.

At the end of his term as provincial, he moved to Dillingen, Bavaria, where he directed the university. He taught, acted as a confessor, and composed a stream of works in defense of the Catholic faith.

Whereas many felt that the Protestant Reformers were by far the most learned and intelligent of the controversialists, in Peter Canisius they met their equal. He used some of their weapons. The Bible, he believed, could be used in support of the ancient faith as well as enlisted on the side of Protestantism. Where Canisius thought he opponents were right, he courteously said so. But he believed that his own statement of the Catholic faith could hold its own in any Christian debate, and preferred to concentrate on basic Christian doctrines rather than controversial matters, such as indulgences and purgatory. In dealing with Lutherans, he always distinguished between those who had deliberately propagated heresy and those who had been brought up in it, or had drifted into it, whose errors, as he thought, came from ignorance rather than malice.

In addition to apologetics, his written work includes theological, ascetical, and historical treatises. Among his compositions are A Manual for Catholics, a martyrology, a revision of the Augsburg Breviary, and the General Prayer, which is still recited in Germany.

Canisius acted as a court chaplain for several years at Innsbruck, Austria, and helped to resolve a rift between the emperor and Pope Pius IV. In 1577, he was relieved of the task of finishing a series of books because of his ill health. Nevertheless, he continued to preach, make visitations as vice provincial, and give missions. In 1580, he went to Fribourg, Switzerland, to build a college, which became the University of Fribourg. His regular preaching for more than eight years is credited with holding Fribourg to the faith during an uneasy time in history.

His health deteriorated further. In 1591, he suffered a stroke. He recovered enough to write, with the help of a secretary, and died six years later.

As you can see, Canisius was constantly engaged in teaching, preaching, instructing, advising, and arbitrating in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Bohemia, and Poland. It is estimated that he travelled 20,000 miles on foot and horseback in 30 years. For this work, he is rightly called the Second Apostle of Germany (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Brodrick, Delaney, Farmer, White).
SOURCE : http://www.saintpatrickdc.org/ss/1221.shtml

In art St. Peter can be identified as an elderly (sometimes bearded) Jesuit with "charitas" and IHS in glory above his head as he kneels before the Blessed Virgin with a book near him (Roeder).



San Pietro Canisio Sacerdote e dottore della Chiesa


- Memoria Facoltativa

Nimega, Olanda, 1521 - Friburgo, Svizzera, 21 dicembre 1597

Pietro Kanijs (Canisio, nella forma latinizzata) nasce a Nimega, in Olanda, nel 1521. È figlio del borgomastro della città, ha perciò la possibilità di studiare diritto canonico a Lovanio e diritto civile a Colonia. In questa città ama trascorrere il tempo libero nel monastero dei certosini e la lettura del breve opuscolo degli Esercizi spirituali che Sant'Ignazio ha scritto da poco determina la svolta decisiva della sua vita: compiuta la pia pratica a Magonza sotto la direzione di padre Faber, entra nella Compagnia di Gesù ed è l'ottavo gesuita a emettere i voti solenni. A lui si deve la pubblicazione delle opere di San Cirillo di Alessandria, di San Leone Magno, di San Girolamo e di Osio di Cordova. Prende parte attiva al concilio di Trento, come teologo del cardinale Truchsess e consigliere del papa. Sant'Ignazio lo chiama in Italia, mandandolo dapprima in Sicilia, poi a Bologna, per rimandarlo quindi in Germania, dove resta per trent'anni, in qualità di superiore provinciale. Pio V gli offrì il cardinalato, ma Pietro Canisio pregò il papa di lasciarlo al suo umile servizio della comunità. Morì a Friburgo, in Svizzera, il 21 dicembre 1597. (Avvenire)

Etimologia: Pietro = pietra, sasso squadrato, dal latino

Martirologio Romano: San Pietro Canisio, sacerdote della Compagnia di Gesù e dottore della Chiesa, che, mandato in Germania, si adoperò strenuamente per molti anni nel difendere e rafforzare la fede cattolica con la predicazione e con i suoi scritti, tra i quali il celebre Catechismo. A Friburgo in Svizzera prese infine riposo dalle sue fatiche.

Continuando nella sua catechesi sui santi, Benedetto XVI ha dedicato l’udienza generale del 9 febbraio a san Pietro Canisio (1521-1597), gesuita e teologo presente come perito al Concilio di Trento.Olandese di nascita, nel 1548 fu inviato dal fondatore dei Gesuiti, sant’Ignazio di Loyola (1491-1556), in Germania. Il Papa ne richiama le parole annotate nel suo diario e riferite alla Basilica di San Pietro, dove il santo si era recato per pregare: «Là io ho sentito che una grande consolazione e la presenza della grazia mi erano concesse per mezzo di tali intercessori [Pietro e Paolo]. Essi confermavano la mia missione in Germania e sembravano trasmettermi, come ad apostolo della Germania, l’appoggio della loro benevolenza. Tu conosci, Signore, in quanti modi e quante volte in quello stesso giorno mi hai affidato la Germania per la quale in seguito avrei continuato ad essere sollecito, per la quale avrei desiderato vivere e morire».

I tempi per una missione in Germania non erano facili: «ci troviamo – ricorda il Papa – nel tempo della Riforma luterana, nel momento in cui la fede cattolica nei Paesi di lingua germanica, davanti al fascino della Riforma, sembrava spegnersi. Era un compito quasi impossibile quello di Canisio, incaricato di rivitalizzare, di rinnovare la fede cattolica nei Paesi germanici». Ma, nutrito della spiritualità di sant’Ignazio, san Pietro Canisio riuscì sia a rafforzare la fede cattolica là dov’era rimasta maggioritaria – in Baviera, poi a Vienna, a Praga e in Polonia, dove fu nunzio pontificio – sia a mantenerla nelle regioni tedesche a maggioranza protestante. Partecipò anche ai colloqui di Worms del 1557 con i dirigenti protestanti, fra cui Filippo Melantone (1497-1560), che sfiorarono una riconciliazione poi sfumata soprattutto per l’opposizione dei principi protestanti tedeschi. Consacrò l’ultima parte della sua vita a Friburgo, in Svizzera, dove si era ritirato nel 1580 e dove morirà nel 1597, alla predicazione e alla stesura delle sue ultime opere.

San Pietro pubblicò in effetti numerosi volumi. «Ma i suoi scritti più diffusi – nota il Pontefice – furono i tre Catechismi composti tra il 1555 e il 1558. Il primo Catechismo era destinato agli studenti in grado di comprendere nozioni elementari di teologia; il secondo ai ragazzi del popolo per una prima istruzione religiosa; il terzo ai ragazzi con una formazione scolastica a livello di scuole medie e superiori. La dottrina cattolica era esposta con domande e risposte, brevemente, in termini biblici, con molta chiarezza e senza accenni polemici. Solo nel tempo della sua vita sono state ben 200 le edizioni di questo Catechismo! E centinaia di edizioni si sono succedute fino al Novecento. Così in Germania, ancora nella generazione di mio padre, la gente chiamava il Catechismo semplicemente il Canisio: è realmente il catechista per secoli, ha formato la fede di persone per secoli».

Si può dire che la caratteristica fondamentale della missione tedesca di san Pietro Canisio sia stata, afferma Benedetto XVI, «saper comporre armoniosamente la fedeltà ai principi dogmatici con il rispetto dovuto ad ogni persona. San Canisio ha distinto l'apostasia consapevole, colpevole, dalla fede, dalla perdita della fede incolpevole, nelle circostanze. E ha dichiarato, nei confronti di Roma, che la maggior parte dei tedeschi passata al Protestantesimo era senza colpa. In un momento storico di forti contrasti confessionali, evitava – questa è una cosa straordinaria – l’asprezza e la retorica dell’ira – cosa rara come ho detto a quei tempi nelle discussioni tra cristiani, – e mirava soltanto alla presentazione delle radici spirituali e alla rivitalizzazione della fede nella Chiesa». Fermezza nella dottrina, contro ogni sincretismo e relativismo, e cordialità nelle relazioni personali, contro un certo zelo amaro, costituiscono la formula per l’ecumenismo che il Papa ha recentemente proposto, con riferimento specifico proprio ai luterani, nella recente Settimana di preghiera per l’unità dei cristiani.
Per mettere in pratica questa formula non serve solo un profondo sapere teologico. Serve anche la vita spirituale, che in san Pietro Canisio era alimentata fin dalla giovinezza secondo il Papa «dalla devotio moderna e dalla mistica renana», movimenti di risveglio spirituale fioriti tra la fine del XV secolo e i primi decenni del XVI. «È caratteristica per la spiritualità di san Canisio – afferma ancora il Papa – una profonda amicizia personale con Gesù. Scrive, per esempio, il 4 settembre 1549 nel suo diario, parlando con il Signore: “Tu, alla fine, come se mi aprissi il cuore del Sacratissimo Corpo, che mi sembrava di vedere davanti a me, mi hai comandato di bere a quella sorgente, invitandomi per così dire ad attingere le acque della mia salvezza dalle tue fonti, o mio Salvatore”. E poi vede che il Salvatore gli dà un vestito con tre parti che si chiamano pace, amore e perseveranza».

Il Papa identifica tre radici della spiritualità del santo: la mistica certosina, gli Esercizi spirituali  di sant’Ignazio di Loyola e la devozione al Sacro Cuore. «All’amicizia con Gesù san Pietro Canisio si era formato nell’ambiente spirituale della Certosa di Colonia, nella quale era stato a stretto contatto con due mistici certosini: Johann Lansperger, latinizzato in Lanspergius [1489-1539], e Nicolas van Hesche, latinizzato in Eschius [1507-1578]. Successivamente approfondì l’esperienza di quell’amicizia, familiaritas stupenda nimis, con la contemplazione dei misteri della vita di Gesù, che occupano larga parte negli Esercizi spirituali di sant’Ignazio. La sua intensa devozione al Cuore del Signore, che culminò nella consacrazione al ministero apostolico nella Basilica Vaticana, trova qui il suo fondamento»

Dalla frequenza personale con sant’Ignazio deriva per san Pietro Canisio il convincimento che «non si dà anima sollecita della propria perfezione che non pratichi ogni giorno la preghiera, l’orazione mentale, mezzo ordinario che permette al discepolo di Gesù di vivere l’intimità con il Maestro divino. Perciò, negli scritti destinati all’educazione spirituale del popolo, il nostro Santo insiste sull’importanza della Liturgia con i suoi commenti ai Vangeli, alle feste, al rito della santa Messa e degli altri Sacramenti, ma, nello stesso tempo, ha cura di mostrare ai fedeli la necessità e la bellezza che la preghiera personale quotidiana affianchi e permei la partecipazione al culto pubblico della Chiesa».

Questi tesori della spiritualità ignaziana, afferma il Papa, «conservano intatto il loro valore, specialmente dopo che sono stati riproposti autorevolmente dal Concilio Vaticano II nella Costituzione Sacrosanctum Concilium: la vita cristiana non cresce se non è alimentata dalla partecipazione alla Liturgia, in modo particolare alla santa Messa domenicale, e dalla preghiera personale quotidiana, dal contatto personale con Dio. In mezzo alle mille attività e ai molteplici stimoli che ci circondano, è necessario trovare ogni giorno dei momenti di raccoglimento davanti al Signore per ascoltarlo e parlare con Lui».

Questo vale per tutti i fedeli, ma vale tanto di più per chi è chiamato ad annunciare ad altri il Vangelo. La vita di san Pietro Canisio è la prova che «il ministero apostolico è incisivo e produce frutti di salvezza nei cuori solo se il predicatore è testimone personale di Gesù e sa essere strumento a sua disposizione, a Lui strettamente unito dalla fede nel suo Vangelo e nella sua Chiesa, da una vita moralmente coerente e da un’orazione incessante come l’amore. E questo vale per ogni cristiano che voglia vivere con impegno e fedeltà la sua adesione a Cristo».

Autore:
Massimo Introvigne



Le Grand catéchisme de Canisius est disponible en PDF :
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