Any day now, Pope Francis is expected to issue a papal bull decreeing that Peter Faber, companion of St. Ignatius and co-founder of the Society of Jesus, is a saint. No date for the canonization has been announced; but it is predicted that it will occur before Christmas.
The process for the canonization, according to the Italian Catholic newspaper Avvenire, will be what is called “equivalent canonization”—that is, a canonization when the Pope omits the customary judicial process and ceremonies involved, and simply decrees that the servant of God should be venerated in the Universal Church. Equivalent canonization is an appropriate process for cases in which the holy person has, over a long period of time, been the object of veneration; when his or her heroic virtues (or martyrdom) and miracles are related by reliable historians; and when the fame of his miraculous intercession is uninterrupted.
According to Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli, writing in La Stampa:
The process for his cause in the Congregation for the Causes of Saints is complete and now all that remains is for Francis to issue the Bull of Canonization that will proclaim the first companion of St. Ignatius a saint, extending the cult of the soon-to-be-saint to the Universal Church.
Faber was born in the Upper Savoy region of France in 1506 and died in Rome in 1547 just a few weeks before he was due to attend the Council of Trent. He was beatified in September 1872 with a Papal Rescript issued by the Sacred Congregation of Rites and ratified by the Society of Jesus. Now Francis is extending the liturgical cult to the Universal Church.
Faber’s canonization is of particular interest because the Jesuit is, according to Tornielli, “a model of spirituality and priestly life for the current successor of Peter. At the same time, he is an important reference point for understanding the Pope’s leadership style.”
Faber lived in the sixteenth century, in a time when the unity of the Church was being threatened. He mostly avoided the doctrinal disputes which were going on around him, focusing instead on reform of the Church, becoming a pioneer of ecumenism.
Pope Francis spoke about Faber in his famous interview with Fr. Antonio Spadaro for the Jesuit journal Civiltà Cattolica, revealing some key aspects of the priest as a figure:
“[His] dialogue with all, even the most remote and even with his opponents; his 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.”