SAINT JOHN of KANTY (1390-1473), priest – Patron saint of Poland and Lithuania
Today, the Church honors Saint John of Kanty, a man noted for his humility and generosity, always placing the needs of the poor and destitute before his own.
John Cantius was born in the town of Kanty in the diocese of Kraków, Poland in the year 1390. He was a country lad and was a brilliant student at the University of Kraków. After completing his studies, he was ordained a priest and became professor of theology at the university. However, at the age of forty-one, he was unjustly fired from his job as a result of rivalry and hostility from his fellow professors, due to John’s immense popularity with his students.
He was then assigned as a parish priest in Olkusz, a town in southern Poland. Father John took his position seriously, resolving to do his best, but was terrified of the responsibility. For a long time, that wasn’t enough for his parishioners who were very cold and indifferent to him. But in the end, he won their hearts. And after eight years assigned at his parish, he returned to Kraków and taught Scripture the rest of his life at the university.
Father John was known for his humility and generosity. He championed the motto: “Fight all error, but do it with good humor, patience, kindness, and love. Harshness will damage your own soul and spoil the best cause.”
As a servant of God, he was a serious, humble man, generous to a fault with the poor, sleeping little, eating no meat and little of anything else. He made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and four pilgrimages to Rome, always carrying his luggage on his back.
Father John died of natural causes on December 23, 1473 in Kanty. At the time of his death, he was so well loved that his veneration began immediately. For years, his doctoral gown was worn by graduates receiving advanced degrees at the University of Kraków.
Father John of Kanty was canonized a saint in 1767 by Pope Clement XIII, and was declared patron saint of Poland and Lithuania. His remains are interred under the Church of Saint Anne in Kraków, where his tomb remains a popular pilgrimage site.
We commemorate his feastday on December 23.
(From saintjohnkanty.org, saints.sqpn.com, americancatholic.org, catholicculture.org, newadvent.org and ewtn.com/library)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Proper for Saint John of Kanty)
“Almighty Father, through the example of John of Kanty, may we grow in the wisdom of the saints. As we show understanding and kindness to others, may we receive Your forgiveness.
“We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”