St Peter Canisius… a great Jesuit & Doctor of the Church… gave us the first Catechism in print!


Peter Canisius
Public Domain art

Today is the feast of St Peter Canisius, a Jesuit, who was a writer/publisher and catechist of the highest order. I like him because he was the first to ever publish a catechism — and there were like 200 editions of it in his lifetime and it was translated into 12 languages! Peter was one of those big time Counter Reformation saints, addressing the Council of Trent, and a zealous educator. You got the goods when you were catechised by Peter. He is also credited with opening 18 colleges and seminaries.  You can find many short biographies of his life online, but I like this one. 

I also want to heartily recommend that you read the commentary on the 12 features of Peter’s spiritual life and work habits from the late great Fr Hardon. It will be 10 minutes or so well spent!

A few gems that you’ll find… (bold emphasis is mine.)


 …if there is one aspect of sanctity that Peter Canisius teaches us, it is in God’s name, use your will power.


…to convert people from error to the truth, it is not enough to preach to them, you must first practice charity towards them. In other words, you will win over those who have been mislead by error only if you practice charity. Charity first and then, proclaim the truth.


 …he had a great devotion to the Sacred Heart. … Peter Canisius, though he had a first class mind, realized that you approach the Son of God with your heart and giving Him even your mind.

He had… a great devotion to Our Lady or of his recitation of the Rosary – made sure that her feast days were solemnly observed. Some of his prayers to Our Lady have remained over the centuries. In other words, a devotee of Our Lady talks to her. You claim that somebody is your friend and you practically never talk to the person, the friendship is, needless to say, suspect. Peter talked with Mary.


There is such a thing as being methodical in the spiritual life; there is such a thing as working hard in the spiritual life; there is such a thing as not looking for consolation in the spiritual life; there is such a thing as doing one’s duty….  Get up a certain time; there is a certain amount of work during the day; going to bed and getting up; doing your work, going to bed; getting up year after year. And no complaints…


Prudence, Peter Canisius would define, is the practice of charity in winning souls from sin back to God. It’s the kind of prudence we don’t hear much about these days.

Now go on and read the rest… we need this kind of encouragement!