CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 9 February 2019

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Sainthood for foundation Jesuit

VATICAN (SE): The 16th century Jesuit, Father Peter Fabre, has been proclaimed a saint by Pope Francis through a process known as equivalent canonisation, a decision based on the fact that the person has been held in widespread reverence over a long period of time and so veneration is a fitting response.

The Vatican press office announced the decision on December 17, the day of the Jesuit pope’s 77th birthday.

The process skips the usual procedure of proving miracles which can be demonstrated to be due to the intercession of the person.

Known in his life time as Pierre Favre, the French Jesuit’s name has been Anglicised as Peter Fabre. He was born in the Rhône-Alpes region in 1506 and during his university days shared a room with St. Ignatius Loyola at the Sorbonne University in Paris, where he also came into contact with St. Francis Xavier.

Father Fabre tutored St. Ignatius in philosophy, who in turn tutored him in spirituality.

The trio is recognised as the founding community of the Society of Jesus and Father Fabre spent the bulk of his life in Germany.

The Jesuit journal, La Civilta Cattolica, describes him as a man of “simple piety, a certain naïveté perhaps, his being available straightaway, his careful interior discernment, the fact that he was a man capable of great and strong decisions, but also capable of being so gentle and loving.”

St. Ignatius himself described him as a man who could squeeze water from a rock.

It is well known that Pope Francis has long considered Father Fabre as a model figure and worthy example of the Christian life.

He was sent to Germany at the time Protestantism was gaining ground, but refused to engage in polemical debate, rather pointing to the decadence of the Catholic Church, especially the hierarchy and the clergy, as being at the heart of the problem.

Instead, he advocated personal reform. He approached life and people with a gentility that won him many friends and a wide listening audience.

He was made a peritus (expert) at the Council of Trent in 1546 by Pope Pius III. He was 40-years-old at the time, but suffering from exhaustion from his constant travels and huge work schedule.

He died three months later on August 2.

His major legacy is his Memoriale, which begins with a quotation from the psalms, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.”

In his work, Father Fabre chronicles his conversations with God, but also includes references to some events that made an impact on him, as well as other people.


La Civilta Cattolica says that Pope Francis and Father Fabre have much in common. Father Fabre worked for reform within the Catholic Church and was a dedicated ecumenical person.

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