December 21


Saint of the day:
Saint Peter Canisius

Patron Saint of  Germany & the Catholic press

Saint Peter Canisius’ Story

The energetic life of Peter Canisius should demolish any stereotypes we may have of the life of a saint as dull or routine. Peter lived his 76 years at a pace which must be considered heroic, even in our time of rapid change. A man blessed with many talents, Peter is an excellent example of the scriptural man who develops his talents for the sake of the Lord’s work.

He was one of the most important figures in the Catholic Reformation in Germany. His played such a key role that he has often been called the “second apostle of Germany” in that his life parallels the earlier work of Boniface.

Although Peter once accused himself of idleness in his youth, he could not have been idle too long, for at the age of 19 he received a master’s degree from the university at Cologne. Soon afterwards he met Peter Faber, the first disciple of Ignatius Loyola, who influenced Peter so much that he joined the recently formed Society of Jesus.

At this early age Peter had already taken up a practice he continued throughout his life—a process of study, reflection, prayer and writing. After his ordination in 1546, he became widely known for his editions of the writings of Saint Cyril of Alexandria and St. Leo the Great. Besides this reflective literary bent, Peter had a zeal for the apostolate. He could often be found visiting the sick or prisoners, even when his assigned duties in other areas were more than enough to keep most people fully occupied.

In 1547 Peter attended several sessions of the Council of Trent, whose decrees he was later assigned to implement. After a brief teaching assignment at the Jesuit college at Messina, Peter was entrusted with the mission to Germany—from that point on his life’s work. He taught in several universities and was instrumental in establishing many colleges and seminaries. He wrote a catechism that explained the Catholic faith in a way which common people could understand—a great need of that age.

Renowned as a popular preacher, Peter packed churches with those eager to hear his eloquent proclamation of the gospel. He had great diplomatic ability, often serving as a reconciler between disputing factions. In his letters (filling eight volumes) one finds words of wisdom and counsel to people in all walks of life. At times he wrote unprecedented letters of criticism to leaders of the Church—yet always in the context of a loving, sympathetic concern.

At 70, Peter suffered a paralytic seizure, but he continued to preach and write with the aid of a secretary until his death in his hometown (Nijmegen, Netherlands) on December 21, 1597.






L’Eglise Saint-Michel

(The Church of Saint Michael)

Rue Saint-Pierre-Canisius 10

1700 Fribourg, Switzerland

*The relics of St Peter Canisius,

a zealous preacher and defender of the faith during the Counter-Reformation, lie under the main altar of this church.

*In order to make his relics more accessible there is a possibility that his relics may be transferred in the near future.

If this occurs his relics would be transferred just a few blocks away to the Cathédrale Saint-Nicolas in Fribourg.

Songs of the season:

Away in a Manger




  • 3⁄4 cup raisins

  • 3⁄4 cup walnut halves, chopped

  • 3⁄4 cup packed light brown sugar

  • 1⁄4 cup dark rum

  • 4 tsp. kosher salt

  • 6 tart apples, such as Gala

  • 1 cup dry white wine

  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed

  • 1⁄3 cup honey

  • 1 1⁄2 tbsp. ground cinnamon

  • Whipped cream, for serving



  1. Heat oven to 350°.

  2. Combine raisins, walnuts, sugar, rum, and salt in a bowl; set aside.

  3. Core apples, and place right-side up in a 9" x 13" baking dish.

  4. Fill each apple with 1⁄4 cup walnut mixture, add wine and butter to baking dish, and drizzle each apple with honey

  5. Cover tightly with foil, and bake until apples are tender, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

  6. Uncover, sprinkle with cinnamon and let cool slightly 

  7. Serve in bowls with pan sauce and a dollop of whipped cream on the side.

Saint Thomas the Apostle


His feast day used to be December 21st, the day of his martyred death according to tradition.

An old English saying for that day was “St. Thomas day, St. Thomas Gray. The longest night the shortest day”.

At one level this refers to the dark side of doubt in our lives that are reflective of what Thomas the Apostle must have felt after the crucifixion.

In turn, by having his feast day on the “darkest day” of the year it could facilitate our personal reflections of our own doubts in our lives.

His feast day was changed from December 21st in 1969 so that it would no longer interfere with major elements of advent.

The July 3rd date is what tradition holds to be when his relics were transferred from India

to Edessa, Turkey then eventually moved to Ortona, Italy in 1258.

How to Dream About Your Future Husband on the Feast of St. Thomas: The Old December 21 tradition for finding love!
  1. Climb into bed using a step-stool (I guess they traditionally have tall beds in Austria?)

  2. Removed your shoes (Maybe the floors are cold there too)

  3. In the Hallmark movie she spins around three times after removing her shoes, however many sources I have found that explain The Feast of St. Thomas ritual exclude this step so it’s your call!

  4. Throw the shoes at your bedroom door, toes first

  5. Sleep with your head at the foot of the bed

Follow all of these instructions and you may dream of the man you are destined to marry.  Part of me thinks the result could be terrifying, but I may still give it a try.  I don’t necessarily want to be a half-drunk, single bridesmaid for the rest of my life.

If the above method is not to your liking, you may also try selecting a young rooster while a brood of chicks are sleeping.  


There is also the English tradition of sleeping with a peeled onion wrapped in a handkerchief under your head.  The thought of having an onion under my head all night sounds disgusting and quite uncomfortable, but to each their own.

I hope this gives you some insight into the wonders that The Feast of St. Thomas may hold.  Be sure to let me know if it works! Happy Dreaming!

“Holy Mary Mother of God pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death”