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Augustine's Confessions and the Autobiographies of Peter Canisius, SJ

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Peter Canisius, one of the most dynamic Jesuits of the second half of the sixteenth century, explicitly identified Augustine's Confessions as his exemplar when composing his Testament, an autobiographical work, at the end of his life. This article explores the ways in which the Confessions might have influenced Canisius's self-representation first by establishing the Jesuit's familiarity with the text and then by considering his modes of appropriating it. The Testament and an earlier autobiographical text are the principal sources for analysis. A self-accusatory tone and especially a confessionalized construction of Canisius's life that emphasizes his resolute adherence to Catholicism constitute the most prominent features of his reception of the Confessions.

Affiliations: 1: Department of History, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC, V5A 1S6, Canada;, Email:


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