To most Catholics in this country, St. John from Kenty—otherwise known as John Kanty or John Cantius—is an obscure saint, but even in Europe, probably few people know of Pope John Paul II’s deep and lifelong devotion to this professor saint. Only 13 miles from the Holy Father’s own birthplace, John was born in the small southern Polish town of Kenty on June 24, 1390. At the age of 23, he registered for studies at the Jagiellonian University, located in the not too distant city of Krakow—then, the capital of the Polish Kingdom. Founded 1364 by royal decree, it was the same university at which astronomer, Nicolas Copernicus, would study almost 80 years later. Enrolled in the Department of Liberal Arts, John became a doctor of philosophy in 1418. During the following three years, he undertook further studies in preparation for the priesthood, while supporting himself by conducting philosophy classes at the university.
When Saint John Kanty’s feast day was first inserted into the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints in 1770, it was initially assigned to October 20, but in 1969 it was moved to December 23, the day before the anniversary of his death, which occurred on Christmas Eve, 1473.
Saint John Kanty, pray for us!