December 22, 2016

Saint John Cantius, Priest, Scholar, Servant of the Poor

St. John of Kanty
December 23rd, the Church celebrates the optional memorial of St. John Cantius, (c. 1390 – 1473) otherwise called John of Kanty or John Kanty, the 15th century Polish priest and theologian whose intellectual brilliance was matched only by his personal piety and generosity toward the poor. A university professor of renown, he was sent to minister as a parish priest in a small rural Church.

His parishioners, like his students held him in high regard. He is known for his honesty and humility. Cantius made numerous trips to the Holy Land and Rome, journeying by foot. According to tradition, on one pilgrimage, he was robbed. The robbers asked if he had any additional possessions. The future saint answered "No." Later, Cantius realized he had gold coins sewn into his garment. Tracking down the robbers, he presented the coins with apologies. Ashamed of their theft and astonished at his honesty, the robbers returned all they had stolen to Cantius. So great was his witness, that countless souls followed in his footsteps, embracing the true Faith and altruism.

John Cantius was born in the Polish town of Kanty, (Cracow, Poland) to Stanisław and Anna Kanty. He studied at the Krakow Academy, where his academic aptitude was apparent. In 1418, he earned a Doctorate of Philosophy. He would spend the next three years lecturing in philosophy at the university, while preparing for the priesthood. Cantius's studied wisdom was greatly admired by Saint John Paul II.

After his ordination, Cantius became rector at the school of the Canons Regular of the Most Holy Sepulcher. While there, he was offered a professorship of Sacred Scripture at the Krakow Academy, (now Jagiellonian University). He earned a doctorate in theology and eventually chaired that department. During his tenure in Krakow, his reputation for helping the needy and the marginalized grew. His existence was marked by selfless denial, consuming only what was necessary to sustain his life. He gave alms regularly to the poor, prayed incessantly, and made several pilgrimages to Jerusalem and four pilgrimages to Rome, all on foot.

Except for a brief, but successful period as a parish priest, the vast majority of St. John Cantius’ priesthood was dedicated to advancing the Church’s Scholastic treasury of philosophy, theology and science. When he died on December 24, 1473, the citizens of Krakow already considered him a saint. His remains are entombed in the Church of St. Anne, Krakow, Poland. The Divine Office distinguishes him with three hymns; he is the only confessor not a bishop to be so honored in the Roman Catholic liturgy. He was beatified by Pope Clement X on March 28, 1676. In 1737, Pope Clement XII named him patron of Poland and Lithuania. On July, 16 1767, he was canonized by Pope Clement XIII. Grant, we pray, almighty God, that by the example of St. John of Kanty we may advance in our knowledge of You and by showing compassion, gain forgiveness in Your sight.

No comments :