Saint Peter Canisius

[Saint Peter Canisius]Also known as

  • Hammer of Protestantism
  • Peter Kanis
  • Peter Kannees
  • Peter Kanys
  • Petrus Canisius
  • Petrus Kanis
  • Second Apostle of Germany

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Son of Jacob Canisius, a wealthy burgomeister, and Ægidia van Houweningen, who died shortly after Peter’s birth. Educated in Cologne, Germany, studying art, civil law and theology. He was an excellent student, and received a master’s degree by age 19; his closest friends at university were monks and clerics. Joined in the Jesuits on 8 May 1543 after attending a retreat conducted by Blessed Peter Faber. Taught at the University of Cologne, and helped found the first Jesuit house in the city. Ordained in 1546. Theologian of Cardinal Otto Truchsess von Waldburg, Bishop of Augsburg in 1547. He travelled and worked with Saint Ignatius of Loyola who was his spiritual director in Rome, Italy. Taught rhetoric in Messina, Sicily in 1548, preaching in Italian and Latin. Doctor of theology in 1549. Began teaching theology and preaching at Ingolstadt, Germany in 1549. Rector of the university in 1550. Began teaching theology, preaching in the Cathedral of Saint Stephen in Vienna, Austria in 1552; the royal court confessor, he continued to worked in hospitals and prisons, and during Lent in 1553 he travelled to preach in abandoned parishes in Lower Austria. During Mass one day he received a vision of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and ever after offered his work to the Sacred Heart. He led the Counter-Reformation in Germany, Austria, Bohemia, and Switzerland, and his work led to the return of Catholicism to Germany. His catechism went through 200 editions during his life, and was translated into 12 languages; in some places catechisms were referred to as Canisi. Attended the Diet of Augsburg in 1555. Founded Jesuit colleges in Ingolstadt, Prague, Dillingen, and Fribourg. Jesuit provincial superior. Attended the Diet of Ratisbon in 1556 and 1557. Everywhere he worked he became a noted preacher, and often worked with children, teaching them and hearing their confessions. Represented Pope Paul IV at the imperial Diet of Pieternow. Addressed the Council of Trent on the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Recommended Saint Stanislaus Kostka for reception as a Jesuit. Court preacher to Archduke Ferdinand II of Austria. While in Fribourg, Switzerland, he received a message from the city’s patron saint, Nicholas of Myra, that he should stop travelling; Canisius spent the rest of his life there. He taught, preached, edited books, and worked to support the Catholic press and printers in many cities; his advice was sought by Saint Francis de Sales, and by his friend Saint Charles Borromeo. Proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1925 by Pope Pius XI.

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If you have too much to do, with God’s help you will find time to do it all. - Saint Peter Canisius

Before he set out for Germany, Saint Peter Canisius received the apostolic blessing, and underwent a profound spiritual experience. He describes it:

“It was as if you opened to me the heart in your most sacred body. I seemed to see it directly before my eyes. You told me to drink from this fountain, inviting me, that is, to draw the waters of my salvation from your wellsprings, my Savior. I was most eager that streams of faith, hope, and love should flow into me from that source. I was thirsting for poverty, chastity, obedience. I asked to be made wholly clean by you, to be clothed by you, to be made resplendent by you. “So, after daring to approach your most loving heart, and to plunge my thirst into it, I received a promise from you of a garment made of three parts: these were to cover my soul in its nakedness, and to belong especially to my religious profession. They were peace, love, and perseverance. Protected by this garment of salvation, I was confident that I would lack nothing but all would succeed and give you glory.”

- from the writings of Saint Peter Canisius

MLA Citation

  • “Saint Peter Canisius“. Saints.SQPN.com. 25 August 2014. Web. 3 September 2014. <>