CANISIUS, ca-nî'si-us or ca-nî'shus, PETRUS (Peter Kanis, Canis, Canijs): A Jesuit to whom the order owes its spread in Germany; b. at Nymwegen, in the Netherlands, May 8, 1521; d. at Freiburg, Switzerland, Dec. 21, 1597. He studied at Cologne from 1535 to 1544 and obtained the degrees of bachelor of theology, licentiate of arts, and master of arts (i.e., doctor of philosophy). In 1543 be went to the Jesuit Pierre Favre at Mainz, made the "spiritual exercises" (see JESUITS) under his guidance, and entered the order as a novice. With nine like-minded companions he founded secretly at Cologne the first Jesuit colony, but the city council dissolved the body, though at the intercession of the university the members were permitted to remain in the city, as individuals. In 1545 Canisius began his lectures, preached, and prepared an edition of the works of Cyril of Alexandria, with a Latin translation, the first volume of which was published at Cologne in 1546. In the mean time, the fervent orator, who had agitated especially against the archbishop Hermann of Wied, who inclined toward Protestantism, had obtained such authority among the strictly Catholic party that at the beginning of the Schmalkald War it delegated him as mediator to the imperial camp at Ulm. Here he came into close relations with Cardinal Otto Truchsess, bishop of Augsburg, who was destined to open the way for him into Bavaria and insure the activity of his order. Ignatius Loyola perceived the talent of Canisius, and, to perfect him in the spirit and nature of the order and make him a chosen vessel, called the young man to Rome and employed him for two yearn in Italy at Messina. Upon his return, Canisius commenced his work in Bavaria in 1549, in 1552 at Vienna and in the Austrian territories, in 1555 at Prague with the two objects in view, to permeate the German Catholics with the Jesuitic spirit of piety, and to repel Protestantism. At Vienna he composed the Summa doctrin Christian, the "catechism," which an imperial edict soon introduced into all Austria; in four hundred editions published during 130 years, it proved an excellent means of mental training (Eng. transl., Paris, 1588). His other literary productions include two volumes (De Johanne Baptista, Dillingen, 1571, and De Maria Virgine, Ingolstadt, 1577), written against the "pestilentissimum opus," the Magdeburg Centuries. But his literary activity against Protestantism was unimportant compared with what he accomplished as teacher in Vienna, Dillingen, and Ingolstadt, as adviser of Catholic princes, and as preacher and pastor of very large circles. Besides the colleges already mentioned, the order owes to him the establishment of the important colleges of Augsburg, Munich, and Innsbruck, and its spread to Poland. When at the height of his successes he attended the Council of Trent in 1562. And yet in the long run he did not retain the confidence of the leaders of his order. The general stopped him when he was on the point of preparing a third volume for the refutation of the "Centuries" (De potestate Petri et successorum). His last achievement was the founding of a new college at Freiburg in Switzerland.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: F. Riess, Der selige Petrus Canisius, Freiburg, 1865; M. Philippson, La Contre-Révolution religieuse. Brussels, 1880; Delplace, L'Éstablissement de la compagnie de Jésus dans les Pays Bas, ib. 1887; P. Drews, Petrus Canisius, der erste deutsche Jesuit, Halle, 1892; Epistulæ et acta P. Canisii, ed. O. Braunsberger, 4 vols., Freiburg, 1896-1905.
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