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St. Peter CanisiusSt. Peter Canisius is rightly considered the second apostle of Germany after St. Boniface.

Peter Kanis – his name was later Latinized to “Canisius” – was born in Nijmegen, Holland, then a German province of the archdiocese of Cologne. He originally thought of becoming a lawyer to please his father, a wealthy public official, but after a retreat directed by St. Peter Faber, one of the first companions of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the young Canisius decided to become a Jesuit.

Shortly after his ordination to the priesthood, he accompanied the Bishop of Augsburg to the Council of Trent and attended two sessions of the Council as a delegate. He was later summoned to Rome by St. Ignatius who retained him by his side for five months.

In response to an appeal by Duke William IV of Bavaria for Catholic professors capable of countering heretical teachings then permeating the schools, after his solemn profession, Peter Canisius was sent to Germany with two other brother Jesuits.

From then on Peter Canisius spent his life helping people in Germany, Austria, Bohemia, Moravia and Switzerland to hold firmly to their Catholic Faith in opposition to the errors of the Protestant reformation then spreading throughout those countries. The restoration of the Catholic Faith in Germany is largely due to the work of the Jesuit fathers which Canisius led.

St. Peter Canisius teaching a group of boysHe combined powerful preaching, with teaching and ceaseless works of charity.

In Austria, he at first preached to almost empty churches, partially due to his Rhineland German which grated on the ears of the Viennese. But his tireless ministrations to the sick and dying during an outbreak of the plague, won the citizens’ hearts, after which his accent was of little importance.

The king, the nuncio and even the Pope wished to appoint him to the vacant see of Vienna, but St. Ignatius would only allow him to administer the diocese for a year without episcopal orders. It was at this time that St. Peter began work on his famous catechism, Summary of Christian Doctrine.

Appointed to Prague, he practically won the city back to the Faith. The college he established in the city was so highly regarded for its excellent academics that even Protestants sought to send their sons to it. During this time he was also made Provincial Superior of the Jesuit Order for an area covering Czechoslovakia, South Germany, Austria and Bohemia.

Not only did Peter Canisius found several colleges, but prepared the way for many others. He also wrote extensively throughout his life. His books were catechetical, instructional, historical and apologetic, refuting the errors of Protestantism.

Canisius was already advanced in age when he was instructed to found a college in Fribourg, Switzerland, capital of the Catholic canton, sandwiched between two powerful Protestant neighbors. Surmounting all obstacles, including numerous financial difficulties, St. Peter founded a university operative to this day. The preservation of the Catholic faith in Fribourg in a critical time of its history can be confidently attributed to him.

Increasing bodily illness obliged Peter Canisius to give up preaching. In 1591 he suffered a paralytic seizure which brought him near death, but recovering sufficiently, he continued writing with the help of a secretary until shortly before his passing on December 21, 1597.

Peter Canisius was simultaneously canonized and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1925 by Pope Pius XI.

 


Second photo by: GFreihalter

 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for November 23, 2020

The purer are your words and your glances, the more pleasing...

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November 23

 

The purer are your words and your
glances,
the more pleasing will you be to the
Blessed Virgin. And
the greater will be the
graces that she will obtain for you
from her Divine Son.


St. John Bosco


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Columban

He struggled with purity, and desperate to dedicate himself...

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St. Columban

Columban was born about the year 543 in County Meath, in the Irish province of Leinster, to respectable parents. He was well-educated in grammar, rhetoric, geometry, and the Holy Scriptures. The young Columban resolved early to embrace monastic asceticism and dedicate himself to a strict and disciplined life, abstaining from many of the pleasures of the world. However, he struggled with purity, and desperate to dedicate himself wholly to God, asked the advice of a religious woman who had lived as a hermit for many years.

His mother tried her utmost to deter him from the course of action proposed by the saintly hermit, but Columban took the holy woman’s advice and left Leinster to become a cloistered monk at the monastery of Bangor in County Down. He remained there a number of years before gaining permission from his superior, St. Congall, to evangelize in foreign lands. With twelve companions he traveled to Gaul and set about preaching and teaching the Gospel.

In 590, news of these monks reached Guntramnus, the King of Burgundy, who was so inspired by the holy men that he gave the Irish monk and his companions the ancient Roman castle of Annegray, in the region’s Vosges Mountains, in which to establish a monastery. Within a few years, the increasing number of followers obliged Columban to expand and, with the help of one of the King’s ministers, he obtained from the King another ancient Roman fortification named Luxeuil, on the site of some ancient Roman baths. A third monastery soon followed to house the growing number of disciples. The monks followed a harsh discipline similar to the unusual characteristics of Celtic Christianity: they carried out penances for every transgression, no matter how small, fasted, performed bodily mortifications and prayed at length.

Twenty years after his first monastic foundation, Columban and his fellow Irishmen were expelled from the country. Brunhilda, the wicked and corrupt queen regent, disliked the holy man for his reproach of the immoral ways of her court and ultimately exiled him in 610.

Columban and his monks traveled to Italy where they were welcomed by Agilulf, King of the Lombards. Agilulf gave the monks a dilapidated church at Bobbio to reestablish themselves. Columban himself did much of the repairs in spite of his seventy years of age.

He died at Bobbio in 615 having spent the last few years of his life praying and preparing for death. His followers established monasteries all over Europe.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared stan...

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The Conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne

Born in 1814, Alphonse Ratisbonne was from a family of wealthy, well-known Jewish bankers in Strasbourg, France. In 1827, Alphonse’s older brother, Thèodore, converted to Catholicism and entered the priesthood, thus breaking with his anti-Catholic family whose hopes now lay in the young Alphonse. At 27, Alphonse was intelligent and well mannered. He had already finished his law degree, and decided to travel to Italy before marrying and assuming his responsibilities in the family business. However, God had other plans for him.

While in Rome, Alphonse visited works of art, and strictly out of cultural curiosity, a few Catholic churches. These visits hardened his anti-Catholic stance, and nourished his profound hatred for the Church. He also called on an old schoolmate and close friend, Gustave de Bussières.

Gustave was a Protestant and several times had tried, in vain, to win Alphonse over to his religious convictions. Alphonse was introduced to Gustave’s brother, Baron de Bussières, who had recently converted to Catholicism and become a close friend of Father Thèodore Ratisbonne. Because of the Baron’s Catholicism and closeness with his turncoat brother, Alphonse greatly disliked him.

On the eve of his departure, Alphonse reluctantly fulfilled his social obligation to leave his calling card at the Baron’s house as a farewell gesture.

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Hoping to avoid a meeting, Alphonse intended to leave his card discreetly and depart straight away, but was instead shown into the house. The Baron greeted the young Jew warmly, and before long, had persuaded him to remain a few more days in Rome. Inspired by grace, the Baron insisted Alphonse accept a Miraculous Medal and copy down a beautiful prayer: the Memorare. Alphonse could hardly contain his anger at his host’s boldness of proposing these things to him, but decided to take everything good-heartedly, planning to later describe the Baron as an eccentric.

During Alphonse’s stay, the Baron’s close friend, Count de La Ferronays, former French ambassador to the Holy See and a man of great virtue and piety, died quite suddenly. On the eve of his death, the Baron had asked the Count to pray the Memorare one hundred times for Alphonse’s conversion. It is possible that he offered his life to God for the conversion of the young Jewish banker.

A few days later, the Baron went to the church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte to arrange for his friend’s funeral. Alphonse reluctantly went with him, all the while making violent criticisms of the Church and mocking Catholic practices. When they arrived, the Baron entered the sacristy to arrange the funeral while Alphonse remained in the church.

When the Baron returned just a few minutes later, the young man was gone. He searched the church, and soon discovered his young friend kneeling close to an altar, weeping.  Alphonse himself tells us what happened in those few minutes he waited for the Baron: “I had only been in the church a short while when, all of a sudden, I felt totally uneasy for no apparent reason. I raised my eyes and saw that the whole building had disappeared. Only one side chapel had, so to say, gathered all the light. In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar. She was grandiose, brilliant, full of majesty and sweetness, just as she is in the Miraculous Medal. An irresistible force attracted me to her. The Virgin made a gesture with her hand indicating I was to kneel.”

When de Bussières talked to Alphonse, he no longer found a Jew, but a convert who ardently desired baptism. The news of such an unexpected conversion immediately spread and caused a great commotion throughout Europe, and Pope Gregory XVI received the young convert, paternally. He ordered a detailed investigation with the rigor required by canon law, and concluded that the occurrence was a truly authentic miracle. 

Alphonse took the name Maria Alphonse at baptism, and, wishing to become a priest, was ordained a Jesuit in 1847. After some time, and at the suggestion of Pope Pius IX, he left the Jesuits and joined his brother Thèodore in founding the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion, dedicated to the conversion of the Jews. Father Theodore spread his congregation throughout France and England, while Father Maria Alphonse went to the Holy Land. In Jerusalem, he established a house of the congregation on the plot of land where the praetorium of Pilate had formerly stood.

The two brothers died in 1884, both famed and well-loved for their exceptional virtues.  

By Armando Santos  

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In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar"

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