Biography of San Pedro Canisio (1521-1597)

Dutch religious, first theologian germano affiliated with the society of Jesus, born in Nijmegen (Netherlands) in 1521 and died in Fribourg (Switzerland) on 21 December 1597. Raised in a family of the Dutch bourgeoisie, the young Pieter de Hondt, because such was his name, he/she began to study philosophy and theology in the University of Cologne, the city which began his first contacts with the Jesuit ideal of the hand of Pedro Fabro, one of the closest collaborators of Ignatius of Loyola in the Holy Roman Empire.

In 1546 he/she ordered priest, and was, as already mentioned, the first minion imperial in collaboration with the society of Jesus. The following year, and thanks to the recommendation of the own Ignacio, he/she was named by his colleagues in the clergy in Cologne spokesman of their claims before the Bishop of Li├Ęge and before the German Emperor himself, with which Pieter de Hondt intervened actively in the fight against the spread of Lutheranism in the Netherlands. The following year (1547) formed part of the retinue of Cardinal Otto of Augsburg in the Council of Trent, where he/she had an outstanding performance in theological debates with regard to the reform of the Church. In 1548 he/she left the Council to be accepted as a member in the society of Jesus, and also to accompany the own San Ignacio to Rome, which began their stay in Italy.

In addition to working alongside his mentor, Hondt obtained the doctorate in theology at the University of Bologna (1549); After completing his academic training, returned to the Holy Roman Empire to apply, in practice, the Jesuit theory against the Lutheran reformation: the spread of Catholicism by the Foundation of ecclesiastical schools which had accommodated both secular and ecclesiastical. Pieter de Hondt, ultimately, was the founder of many of the education centres of the society of Jesus in the Empire, especially in the Netherlands. In 1551 was Professor of theology at the University of Ingolstadt (Bavaria, Germany), just before marching towards the imperial capital, Vienna, and founded the Jesuit school in the city. Between 1552 and 1555 Hondt lived in this city, where, in addition to teach philosophy and theology at the College, he/she obtained the office of preacher of the Court.

In 1556 he/she returned to Ingolstadt, but only for a few months, since his career within the company had not gone unnoticed to his superiors who, in the same year, appointed him provincial of the order in the North of Germany, destination that had their main residence in Prague. In 1557, as provincial of the order, he/she participated in the Conference of Worms where, once again, his eloquence at the exhibition was vital so that an agreement is reached between the areas of influence of both cults. Totally lofty among the Imperial theologians, Hondt was one of the main bastions of Catholicism in the diet of Augsburg (1559), and also again in the Council of Trent, where he/she returned in 1562 to try to alleviate the absence of Jesuit troops before the final resolution of the conflict.

After a relentless race at the top of the order, de Hondt years were marked by the doctrinal writing of religious works. When he/she was still a young student already made some editions of doctrinal texts published in the bosom of the University of Cologne, as the sermons of Johannes Tauler (1543), the complete works of St. Cyril (1546) or sermons of Pope Leo I (1547). However, his most famous and diffused work is the Parvus Catechismus Catholicorum (Antwerp, 1561), one of the Catholic catechism most commonly used throughout Europe thanks to its clear exposition and its simple language, book that the extension of faith, and also the mode of religiosity advocated by the Jesuits, was virtually monopolised in the Netherlands to the reading of the work de Hondt. Other works worthy noteworthy are the Comentarii verbi Dei against corruption (Delingen, 1571), De Maria virgine incomparabili (Ingolstadt, 1571) and Summa doctrinae christianae per quaestiones tradita (Antwerp, 1561), all of them on contentious issues within its geographical and temporal setting, where his eloquence is the most outstanding feature.

In the year 1580 Hondt abandoned all religious activity, which up to that time, and as it has been able to see, he/she had been tireless, and retired to the small Swiss town of Fribourg, where he/she dedicated himself to the spiritual meditation until his death in 1597. He/She was beatified in 1864 by Pope Pius IX, and canonized in 1925 by Pope Pius XI. Her feast is celebrated on December 21.


WOODROW, TO. The Jesuits: history of a dramatic conflict. (Barcelona; Planeta, 1985).