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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



Linzer Cookies (Linzerkekse)


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup whole almonds or hazelnuts (blanched or unblanched)

  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • ¾ cup sugar, divided

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 2 large egg yolks

  • Zest of one small lemon

  • ½ cup raspberry jam

  • ½ cup powdered sugar


  1. To toast the almonds: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the nuts out on a cookie sheet, place them on the middle rack and toast for about 8-10 minutes, or until lightly browned and fragrant. Let the nuts cool completely and grind them in a food processor along with ¼ cup of the sugar until finely ground.

  2. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, salt, and cinnamon. Stir in the ground almonds.

  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until pale in color, add the sugar and beat until fluffy, and then add and beat the egg yolks, vanilla extract and lemon zest. Gradually beat the flour/nut mixture into the butter mixture. Divide the dough into quarters, wrap each piece with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to 2 days.

  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

  5. Remove one piece of dough from the refrigerator at a time. Place the dough between two sheets of wax paper and roll it out to ¼ inch thickness. Use 3-inch cookie cutters (round, stars, heart-shaped are the most traditional) to cut out the cookies and place them on a lined or non-stick cookie sheet. Cut out a top for each cookie, using a smaller cookie cutter to cut out the center so the raspberry preserves will be exposed. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.

  6. Gather up any scraps of dough, let them chill a few minutes, and cut out the remaining cookies. Note: It's important that the cookies remain firm so that they retain their shape. If the dough becomes soft, place the cookie sheet in the fridge for a few minutes to chill before baking.

  7. In an oven preheated to 350 degrees F, bake the cookies for about12 minutes or until just starting to turn golden around the edges. Let the cookies cool for a few minutes until transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

  8. Once cooled, spread the bottom half of each cookie with some raspberry preserves, leaving a thin border around each cookie. Place the top of each cookie on its corresponding bottom half. Use a spoon or piping bag to fill the cut out center with a little more of the preserves.

  9. Store in an airtight container for up to several days.


Saint Thomas the Apostle


His feast day was on 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”

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