Learn and share the faith: St. Peter Canisius

Your Faith
December, 2014

Feast Day: December 21

St. Peter Canisius (1521–1597) was a Jesuit priest (and doctor of the Church) who lived in the turbulent times of the Protestant Reformation. He was a critical figure in the restoration of the Catholic Church in Germany after the Reformation and he helped explain the faith in his preaching and writings in Austria, Bohemia, Moravia and Switzerland.

In Germany, he composed a catechism that defined the basic principles of the Catholic faith in the vernacular, thereby making them more accessible to readers in all the German-speaking countries. In addition, he served as one of the main Catholic theologians at the Colloquy of Worms in 1557 and as the main preacher in the Cathedral of Augsburg from 1559 to 1568. It is reported that his preaching convinced hundreds of Protestants to return to Catholicism. He continued to preach and write until his death at age 70.

Through all the trials of the Reformation, St. Peter passionately, patiently and persistently worked to clarify the teachings of the Church as the new Protestant doctrines were being promulgated. He stayed true to his firm belief that the honest explanation of the faith was much more effective in combating the effects of the Reformation than mounting polemical attacks against reformers. 

Of course, in order to explain the faith, we must first learn and be formed by the faith. We must then be willing to share the faith with all people with the confidence that the word of God alone is effective and capable of transforming all hearts of stone.