December 2005 - Volume 10, Issue 5

Saint of the Month

St. John of Kanti - December 23


John of Kanti came for a well-to-do family in Silesia (now southwest Poland), which was then under Bohemian rule. He studied at the nearby University of Kraków, was ordained a priest and then taught at the university. The dedicated priest led a very austere life and his strenuous fasts endangered his health. When advised to take better care of himself, John pointed out that the Desert Fathers had lived long lives in spite of severe living conditions.

During John's tenure, the university gained prominence as an important intellectual center, and John was widely considered its most outstanding scholar. But some colleagues were jealous, and they managed to have him removed from his teaching post and appointed parish priest in the small community of Olkusz.

Although he tried his best, John was not a very good pastor, and he was sent back to Kraków after a few years of serving in Olkusz. Meanwhile, his parishioners, who had originally been unhappy with him, had grown to love John because of his charitable works.

Back at the University of Kraków, where he spent the rest of his life as professor of Sacred Scripture, John continued his austere life. He ate no meat and little of anything else, slept on the floor and was enormously generous to the poor. As teacher, he advised his students to fight for the truth but to "do it with good humor, patience, kindness and love. Harshness will damage your own soul and spoil the best cause."

John died on Christmas Eve in 1473. He had been so highly respected at the university that, for years after his death, his academic gown was used to vest new doctors.

Almighty Father,
through the example of John of Kanti
may we grow in the wisdom of the saints.
As we show understanding and kindness to others,
may we received Your forgiveness.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ,
Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You
and the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.

From Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives