On 17 December Pope Francis canonized Peter Faber, one of the first companions of St. Ignatius, extending his devotion to the universal Church. He holds a special meaning because he is a model of spirituality and priestly life for today’s Pope, and helps us understand Francis’ style of government.
Faber lived at a time when the unity of the Church was undermined. He steered clear of doctrinal dispute, directing his apostolate to the reform of the Church, and becoming a pioneer of ecumenism. Pope Francis has summarised the qualities that marked him: “His dialogue with everybody, even the most remote and even with his opponents; his simple piety, a certain naiveté perhaps, his immediate availability, his careful interior discernment, the fact that he was a man capable of great and strong decisions but also of being so gentle and loving.”
Faber was a contemplative in action, a man attracted to Christ, passionate about the cause of the brothers, experienced in discerning the spirits, devoted to the priestly ministry with patience and mildness, offering himself without expecting any human reward. He meets God in all things and everywhere, even the most cold and hostile settings. In his Memoriale, which is one of the main documents of the spirituality of the early Society of Jesus, Faber sees his life as a journey through the various regions of Europe following the example of Christ: travelling for obedience, always alert to do God’s will and not his own.