Peter Canisius

petrus) (1521-1597. Roman Catholic reformer. Born in Nijmegen, he studied theology at Cologne and Louvain (1535-46). Deeply influenced by followers of the devotio moderna, he became a Jesuit* novice in 1543. In Cologne he helped to defeat Archbishop Hermann von Wied, and rapidly made a deep impression on Catholic leaders by his ability and dedication. More than any other single person, he established the Catholic reformation in S Germany and Austria. His three Catechisms went through hundreds of editions and did for Catholics what Luther's had done for Protestants. Jesuit provincial for upper Germany between 1556 and 1559, he not only attracted many other talented men to the order, but demonstrated singular ability in educational reform, preaching, teaching, apologetics, and pastoral work. Good relations with Catholic rulers were an indispensable part of his achievements. Tending to perfectionism, he was an unsparing critic of abuses, and his letters are an invaluable historical source. He died in Freiburg and was canonized in 1925.