Ignatius, Peter, and the German SJs
Introduction to watch the video and take the quiz.
St. Ignatius Loyola [2:21]
At his birth in 1491, St. Ignatius Loyola was a man living on the edge of two worlds. The Middle Ages were closing and Europe was entering into the Renaissance: a world of discovery, invention, exploration abroad, and rediscovery at home of the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations. Chivalry was ending as a new humanism was dawning.
Inigo Lopez de Loyola, who later took the name Ignatius, was the spirited and youngest son of a nobleman from the mountainous Basque region of northern Spain.
In a quixotic attempt in 1521 at the age of 30 to defend the Spanish border fortress of Pamplona against the French artillery, Inigo’s right leg was shattered by a cannon ball.
During a lengthy convalescence, he read books on the life of Christ and the lives of the saints. On the shore of the River Cardoner, Inigo had a transformative experience where he realized in the depths of his body and soul that God can be found in all things.
As Inigo studied in preparation for the priesthood, he drew a small band of friends to himself. He directed them in extended prayer and meditation according to his Spiritual Exercises, a prayer guide he had written. This group of “friends in the Lord” became both contemplative in their prayer and active in their public ministries and care of peoples’ souls.
After further studies, the first Jesuits were ordained to the Roman Catholic priesthood in Venice. In 1540 Paul III approved the formation of the Society of Jesus. While Ignatius served as Superior General of the new religious order, Peter Canisius became the first Dutch Jesuit to enter the Society in 1543 from the University of Cologne. Ignatius served sixteen years as the Jesuits’ leader until his death in 1556 at the age of 65.
Ignatius Loyola was canonized a saint by Pope Gregory XV in 1622. To this day he is remembered not only as the founder of the Society of Jesus but as the author of the Spiritual Exercises that continue to help people of all faiths discover God in the midst of their lives.
St. Peter Canisius [1:52]
St. Peter Canisius met the challenges of Reformation Europe with energy, faith, and reason. In 1521, the same year that thirty-year old Ignatius Loyola was wounded in the battle of Pamplona, Peter Kanis was born in Nijmegen in the Duchy of Guelders, Holland.
Peter Canisius became a member of the newly formed Society of Jesus in 1543 when he entered the order in Mainz, Germany. In 1549, he was sent by Pope Paul III to Germany to salvage the Catholic Church from the departure of many of its patrons and church-going faithful to the new Protestant religions. Peter Canisius used education, schools, the pulpit, and the written word to rekindle the faith of Catholics. First in Ingolstadt and then in Vienna, he opened colleges and seminaries for the training of priests and the higher education of the Catholic population.
It was as a teacher that Canisius wrote one of his most famous works, the Catechism. Published in 1555, it provided clear, Catholic interpretations of issues in the debates between Catholics and Protestants. The catechism was published in twelve different languages and multiple editions, including one version with pictures intended for children and adults who could not read!
Canisius went on to establish colleges and seminaries in Prague, Augsburg, Innsbruck, and Fribourg before his death in 1597. Pope Pius XI canonized him a saint in 1925. To this day St. Peter Canisius is revered for the eloquence of his sermons, the clarity of his writing, and his zeal for education as a transformative agent of change in students’ lives.
German Jesuits [1:19]
German Jesuits arrived in town in the 1850’s and quickly established the Buffalo Mission. In short order they founded two parishes: St. Ann’s on what is today Broadway and Emslie Street, and St. Michael’s here on Washington Street.
After an initial two-year run on Ellicott Street, Canisius College opened right next door to St. Michael’s Church in September 1872. In its earliest generations Canisius was both a high school and a college. The school educated the city of Buffalo’s increasingly numerous German immigrants. Hence, the Dutch-German St. Peter Canisius, known for his dedication to education was an obvious choice to bear the school’s name. The high school eventually moved to its present 1180 Delaware Avenue location in 1944. The college had already departed its downtown foothold in the 1910’s to farmland that would become the intersection of Main and Jefferson Streets.
St. Michael’s Church remains in its downtown location, serving the urban and suburban Buffalo faithful, those who live in its re-emerging neighborhood and those who labor in its crossroads of banking, business, law, politics, tourism, and entertainment.
1. What was Ignatius’ transformative realization at the River Cardoner?
- It was time to “hang up his sword.”
- God can be found in all things
- He would be the first Superior General of the Society of Jesus
*Reflection: In what likely and unlikely places, great and small, have I found God?
2. What is Ignatius Loyola remembered for?
- Authoring the Spiritual Exercises, a prayer guide to help people find God in their lives.
- Defeating the French artillery at the Battle of Pamplona.
- Graduating first in his class from the University of Paris.
*Reflection: What have I discovered about myself in relationship with God?
3. Why is St. Peter Canisius famous?
- He founded the Society of Jesus.
- He wrote the Catechism and established colleges and seminaries in Europe.
- He helped establish the Buffalo mission.
*Reflection: What is most valuable about my faith and the education I have received?
4.What did Pope Paul III ask Peter Canisius to do?
- Rekindle the faith of Catholics through teaching, preaching, and writing.
- To write A Life of Christ.
- To lend his name to the Golden Griffin Mascot at a college named for him in Buffalo, NY.
*Reflection: How am I the person of faith and reason that God intended me to be?
5. What church was Canisius College’s long-time next-door neighbor?
- St. Michael’s
- St. Ann’s
- St. Joseph’s Cathedral
St. Peter Canisius Feast Day: December 21
- Ignatian Spirituality 2
- This Ignatian Life
In what ways am I connected to my faith community?