Saint John of Kanty, the priest

Saint John of Kanty, the priest

John of Kanty was a Polish priest, scholastic philosopher, physicist and theologian.

He was born in Kęty, a small town near Oświęcim, Poland, to Anna and Stanisław Kanty. He attended the Kraków Academy from where he obtained bachelor and licentiate. In 1418 he became a Doctor of Philosophy.
Upon his ordination, John became rector at the school of the Canons Regular of the Most Holy Sepulcher in Miechow. While there, he was offered a professorship of Sacra Scriptura (Holy Scripture) back at his alma mater, the Kraków Academy, which would later be named the Jagiellonian University. He attained a doctorate in theology and eventually became director of the theology department.

John helped develop Jean Buridan's theory of impetus in Physics, which anticipated the work of Galileo and Newton.

During his time in Kraków, John became well known in the city for his generosity and compassion toward the poor, especially the needy students at the university. He subsisted on what was strictly necessary to sustain his life, giving alms regularly to the poor. He made one pilgrimage to Jerusalem and four pilgrimages on foot to Rome.

John had indeed been kicked out of his university position unjustly. Rivals who resented John's popularity with the students had cooked up a false charge against him. He was not even allowed to appear at his own hearing or testify in his own defence. So, at age 41, he was shipped off to be an apprentice pastor.

After eight years, he was exonerated and transferred back to Kraków. He had been so successful that these once-hostile people followed him several miles down the road, begging him to stay.

John died while living in retirement at his alma mater on 24 December 1473, aged 83. His remains were interred in the Collegiate Church of St Anne, where his tomb became and remains a popular pilgrimage site. He is the patron of the diocese of Bielsko-Żywiec.

John was beatified in Rome by Pope Clement X on 28 March 1676. He was named patron of Poland and Lithuania by Pope Clement XII in the year 1737. Ninety-one years after his beatification, John of Kanty was canonized on 16 July 1767, by Pope Clement XIII.

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