Dear Brothers and Sisters,Today’s catechesis is on the life of Saint Peter Canisius. He was born in the Low Countries, and as a young man became one of the early followers of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Three years after his priestly ordination in Cologne, he laboured intensively for the religious and moral reform of the people as well as for the improvement of academic life in the University of Ingolstadt. He founded the College of Prague, and was named the first Superior of the Jesuit province in Southern Germany. From there he oversaw the Society’s communities and colleges which quickly became major centres of Catholic reform.
During this period, in the tumult of the Reformation, he took part in many civic and theological disputes. He published devotional literature as well as catechisms popular for their Biblically-inspired responses. Even in his later years in Fribourg, Switzerland, he remained extremely active, dedicating himself to writing and preaching.
Pope Leo XIII proclaimed Peter Canisius the ‘Second Apostle of Germany’, and he was canonized and named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XI. His significant contribution to catechesis is second only to the example for us of his disciplined Christ-centred spirituality, finding in the liturgy, daily prayer and devotion to the heart of Jesus the strength and inspiration to carry out well his innumerable tasks.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 Saint 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!