Bull of Canonization
Divina Providentia Papae XIII
Beati Ioannis Cantii
(promulgatae 16 VII 1767)
CLEMENT BISHOP, SERVANT OF THE SERVANTS OF GOD, FOR THE PERPETUAL MEMORY OF THE MATTER
God has so strengthened His Church, like a fortress most powerfully armed, that thousands of shields hang from it, making up all the defenses of its garrison; those shields and arms of all kinds are the zeal and knowledge of its teachers, who undertake to hand down wholesome doctrine from university chair or preacher’s pulpit, and, so that it should be all the more readily instilled in minds and souls, recommend it by the integrity and holiness of their lives. No wonder, then, that for the Church’s protection lest the gates of hell should prevail against her, doctrine alone without holiness has not enough authority, and that holiness has more strength when it is conjoined with doctrine.
When the Israelites on their return from captivity were rebuilding the demolished walls of Jerusalem while the Samaritans were trying to prevent them from accomplishing this task, those entrusted with the restoration with one hand were conducting the work, and holding a sword with the other. They have been followed throughout the ages, and still are imitated to this day by distinguished teachers whom God keeps summoning, especially in those regions which are surrounded by the enemies of the Church, heretics and schismatics, just as Jerusalem was once encircled by the malevolent and brazenly hostile Samaritans.
Thus no-one doubts that the Blessed John Cantius was certainly worthy to be numbered among those renowned men, distinguished for their doctrine and holiness, who taught and were active in taking measures to defend the true faith against the attacks of those most evil adversaries; he is widely known in the University of Cracow to have handed down learning drawn from the purest fount, at a time when in lands not so far away heresy and schism was raging, and to have disseminated all the holier a teaching, instructing the people in his preaching by the example of his humility, purity, mercy, mortification of the flesh, and other virtues which mark out the perfect priest and indefatigable laborer (in his Master’s vineyard). Thus not only did he bring splendor and embellishment to the faculty of that University, but also left a marvelous example for times to come to all engaged on similar tasks, of the diligence with which they should go about their duties of the ideal tutor, endeavoring as attentively as they can in their teaching to disseminate the wisdom of the saints, along with its attendant skills, all for the greater glory of the One God.
The Blessed John will never cease to look down from on high in favor on the University which he once adorned with his virtues, and will grant his patronage and protection to his illustrious nation, renowned not only for its devotion to the true Roman faith, but also as the valiant defender of its legacy. And as all the effort Blessed John Cantius put into his scholarship was for the greater honor and glory of the One God, he shone like a brilliant light in God’s Church, no less by the miracles he wrought after his death than by the virtues of his life.
Therefore, We, having conducted a long and thorough discussion of his virtues and miracles, as required by the gravity of the matter, with the counsel of our venerable brothers the cardinals of the Holy Roman Church and many patriarchs and archbishops assembled in the City of Rome, but above all having in all piety and humility invoked the Father of Light, do hereby decree, rule, and declare that the said Blessed JOHN CANTIUS be numbered among the saints and accorded veneration and reverence in the Church of God.
Blessed John Cantius was born on 24th June 1397 into an illustrious family of alderman known for their Christian piety in the town of Kęty in the Diocese of Cracow. His thorough education, together with his natural gifts were accompanied, as sometimes happens, by a singular innocence and such gravity of manners that the boy could well be admired for his demeanor befitting a mature man.
Having made sufficient progress in the arts to the level which boyhood may attain in general education, he was sent up to the University of Cracow, which had been founded not long before, to acquire a knowledge of Philosophy and Theology, and thanks to his sharp wit and patient effort advanced so far ahead of others that he achieved the highest grade of honors in Philosophy, while in Theology not only did he win the doctor’s laurels, but was entrusted with the exercise of its mission. This he carried out both from his university chair and from the preacher’s pulpit in such a manner that as well as propagating the pure and true teachings, he filled the hearts and minds of his listeners with the love of piety and religion.
Indeed the trueness of his teachings, thoroughly in line with the Roman Church, was all the more to be espoused like a remedy against the contagion of the errors and heresies rampant in those times in the schools of Holland, Britain, and Germany.
By the power of God the integrity of his life and teachings was shown in a special way. For when a fire broke out in Cracow, and it seemed that the whole city was about to be consumed in the raging conflagration, so that there was no longer any hope of rescue by human means, John, engrossed in prayer, saw the figure of a man venerable by age and countenance standing by him, some said it was St. Stanislaus, Bishop of Cracow, and from him he learned that the fire would go no further. Moreover, he admonished the inhabitants of the city to abandon their sinful ways, if they did not want to bring far more severe punishment upon themselves; and verily, when, unmindful of the warning they relapsed into their old ways and habits, again a fire devastated a large part of the city.
Every day John would celebrated Holy Mass with such ardor and manifest such piety that he would kindle the very highest reverence for God in those present. When the enemy of humankind could no longer suffer this, he took on the shape of a swallow and, flying around in the church, tried to distract the congregation, drawing their attention away. Therefore, to make known to all the people what he himself had learned by the power of God, he caught the bird and cast it down to the ground, whereupon it turned into a snake and with a horrible hiss immediately disappeared from sight.
The religious devotion in his approach to all matters relating to God was associated with a humility whereby he disdained his own person, but never anyone else, although he was the clear leader as regards knowledge, nevertheless he chose the be ignored and despised by all. He went so far as to keep his composure and equanimity with respect to those who hurled insults at him, which sometimes happened, and those who slandered him. This was the reason why, clad in a poor man’s shabby apparel, with no wish of accepting any honors, he went on several pilgrimages conducted on foot, once to the holy places in Palestine, and four times to the threshold of the Apostles in Rome.
His humility was accompanied by a rare, childlike simplicity. There was never any deception, never any falsehood in his deeds. Whatever he had at heart, presently his lips would utter. The following laudable incident is an example of his renowned sincerity. One day he fell among brigands, who, having robbed him of the money he kept in his purse, asked if he had any more. He said he had no more, but after a while, having remembered that there were a few gold coins sewn up in his robe, he called back the thieves and offered them the money he had forgotten about. This extraordinary sincerity moved the hearts even of these rogues. They were so astonished that they immediately returned the money they had stolen and begged him to forgive their offense, asking him to pray for them, both of which the Holy Man readily granted them.
He was a diligent administrator of the parish entrusted to him for some time, but although he carried out his pastoral duties meticulously, his sensitive conscience told him that this was a dangerous office, and so he gave it up and thought it safer to return to the tutorship he had become accustomed to in the College.
Well used to abstinence, after he had obtained his doctorate in Theology he never ate meat. In addition he ate very little, fasted often, would frequently flagellate himself, and always wore a hair-shirt. He slept for short periods only, on the floor; it was not until his old age that he used a bearskin to lie down on.
He remained chaste both in body and spirit, the sign and reward of which was the bright garland which the Holy Virgin Mother of God, when she appeared to him with the Infant Jesus, bestowed on her faithful servant. He found all sin most repugnant. He wept over his minor misdemeanors as if he were guilty of the most heinous crimes. If he discovered that he had inadvertently offended someone with his words, however true, before approaching the altar he would humbly beg for forgiveness for the transgression – the other person’s rather than on his own part, since he always suffered the rebukes and reproachful words of others humbly and calmly.
There was no work of charity that he would not wholeheartedly perform for his neighbor. He would restore the hope of the afflicted, comfort the distressed by talking to them, offer hospitality to travelers, visit the imprisoned, and every year buy clothing and donate it to the poor, considering it so great an honor that once, when he met a beggar walking barefoot along the road, he took off his shoes and put them on the beggar, concealing his own bare feet under his cloak until he got home. One Christmas Day, as he was on his way to church, he encountered a poor man shivering with cold in the snow and miserably begging for alms. Moved by this sight, he took off his own coat and put it on the beggar, but as soon as he arrived back home he found that the garment had been miraculously transported there. It was from John’s charity for the poor that the pious and praiseworthy custom still to this day practiced in the College Major of Cracow derives, whereby every day the fellows invite a poor man to share a meal with them, treating him as if he were Christ Himself as their table companion.
God confirmed that splendid sense of empathy, which did not permit the devout priest to be indifferent to the misfortune of his neighbors, by an extraordinary miracle. One day, when a servant girl dropped and broke a milk jug, and started crying in anticipation of being punished by her mistress, John was so sorry for her that he collected up the pieces and by his prayers not only made it whole again, but presently also turned the water with which he had it filled into milk.
His thoughts and contemplations were always on Christ Our Lord, who went through dire and indescribable suffering for our salvation, and whom John loved deeply. To kindle this love and make it fill his heart, John undertook a pilgrimage on foot to the places in Jerusalem famous for Jesus’ passion. The reverence, devotion, and ardor, accompanied by tearful wailing, with which he visited the landmarks on our Savior’s route can hardly be put into words. He could barely keep himself from chiding the Turks for their impiety and perfidiousness; publicly preaching the truth of the Christian religion, holding it a privilege should he be called upon to lay down his life for his faith, which he very much desired.
He would spend whole nights praying before the image of the Crucified Lord, often rapt for long periods in mystical ecstasy. In the daytime, as soon as he finished his duties in the University, he would head straight for church, where he would contemplate and pray for a long time before Christ hidden in the Eucharist.
God was in his heart and on his lips all the time. To make that ardent devotion advance and grow day by day, he would spend his time in the company of a group of holy and virtuous men who lived in Cracow at the time, engaging in discussions with them, and endeavoring to imitate whatever was morally most commendable about them.
But the time came when this industrious laborer had done enough in the Lord’s vineyard, and his reward was due. Therefore when his weakening body told him that death was drawing near, John put all his efforts into a felicitous preparation to depart this world. First of all, out of a feeling of mercy for the poor he had all the belongings he still had at home distributed among them, thereby making himself even worthier of Divine Mercy; next in the sacrament of confession he washed away the stains on his conscience, if indeed he had any; then, having been nourished by the Most Holy Body of Christ, he lay down. His deteriorating condition brought him hope, not fear. There was nothing he desired more than to leave this exile as soon as possible for his home in heaven.
Strengthened by Holy Communion for his last journey, and having exhorted his colleagues to exercise the works required by the Christian virtues, especially by charity, he blissfully went up to heaven in the arms of Christ Jesus on 24th December in the one thousandth four hundredth and seventy-third year of our salvation, in the seventy-sixth year of his life.
The people of Cracow laid out the holy man’s body in the Church of St. Anne in sorrow as profound as the respect they had for him, especially as soon as his sanctity, albeit already manifest, started to shine forth all the more brightly thanks to his miracles. His veneration grew even more when, 130 years after his death, his coffin was opened and a delightful fragrance filled the church, as attested by trustworthy witnesses.
By custom Cantius’ purple cloak, which is kept with loving devotion, is worn by the newly appointed Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy when he takes his solemn oath, saying that along with the cloak he is thereby invested with the habits and virtues of that former great master.
The spreading fame of John’s holiness and his miracles impelled the Bishop of Cracow to initiate his canonization process, and after the outcome of the inquiry into John’s holy life and miracles had been lawfully achieved, Our Predecessor of blessed memory, Pope Urban VIII, sent the matter to the Congregation for the Sacred Rites, instructing it to pass over the general aspects and concentrate on the special process, but as this was not done the case lapsed until 1666, when by order of Pope Alexander VII of blessed memory, another of Our Predecessors, and on the advice of the Congregation for the Sacred Rites, the case was resumed, but on account of the decrees issued by the said Urban, Our Predecessor, letters of remission were needed to initiate the process for the Holy Man’s immemorial cult, which had been an exception in Urban’s decrees. The confirmation for this type of cult came from the Congregation on 20th May 1676.
Having issued new letters of remission for the institution of the special process, on 27th September 1680 Pope Innocent XI, also Our Predecessor of venerable memory, at the King of Poland’s request permitted the commemoration of the Blessed John to be celebrated every year on his anniversary (24th December) in the city of Cracow and the whole Kingdom of Poland with a special office and Mass in the double rite, but after a short time the Congregation of the Sacred Rites moved Blessed John’s commemoration to the 19th October for good reasons.
When the inquiry in the special process had been completed and its validity established (as the matter related to some writings mentioned in the said process and erroneously attributed to Blessed John Cantius, on 17th September 1730 the Congregation of Rites declared that it had not been proved beyond all doubt that the said writings mentioned in the apostolic process were indeed by the Blessed John Cantius, and therefore, it was possible to move on to the next stages of the canonization process.
Then, on 4th July 1733, the same Congregation considered and confirmed his heroic virtues. Thereby the Blessed John was selected as one of the chief patrons of the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and the decision was ratified by the Congregation of Rites on 16th February 1737, with permission granted for the saying of his office in the two rites, according to the (regulations for the) first class with octave; while on 31st March 1739 it permitted special prayers and readings about him in the second nocturne.
Next the inquiry proceeded to the examination of two miracles wrought by the power of God and attributed to Blessed John’s intercession; first they were reviewed in a general session of the Congregation on the 3rd August 1745 held before Benedict XIV of blessed memory; and subsequently in a particular session before Us on 22nd April last year (1766). And although all present voted in favor of the confirmation of these miracles, We were of the opinion that no ruling should be made until We were fully convinced of their authenticity, after another similar general session before Us of the Congregation at which further miracles should be examined and unanimously approved. When on 2nd December of the same year, 1766, similar agreement was reached unanimously at a general session of the Congregation held before Us on the new miracles, in order to implore the assistance of God and the light of His divine grace, we still postponed their confirmation to 1st January last, for the day of the Lord’s Circumcision and of the Most Holy name of Jesus seemed particularly appropriate for the matter.
We approved four of the miracles presented, ascribing them to the third class. They are as follows:
- First, the instant healing of the boy Sebastian Luzarek, who had been confirmed as suffering from tuberculosis transmitted from his parents.
- The second miracle was the sudden cure of the girl Jadwiga Paskówna, who had been ill with a fever, and her full recovery.
- The third concerned the instant healing of Marianna Gawlicka, who had been suffering from a serious life-threatening fever.
- The fourth miracle was the sudden and full healing of Antoni Oleksowicz, of a huge and deep ulcer stretching from neck to esophagus and so invasive that it left nothing on this part of his body unharmed except for the tendons and major veins, with evil-smelling pus and the remains of food exuding from the lesions in his throat.
There was also another miracle, belonging to the second class, in addition to these. Some merchandise which had fallen into the River Soła and was swept along by the strong current, but returned to the place where it had gone overboard, that is upstream. In such a situation, We offered up prayers, asking God to shine His light on our mind, and on 2nd February of the current year, that is on the feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary, we issued the canonization decree for the Blessed John Cantius which was to be put into effect at a later, unspecified date.
Since at many other times the Christian princes, as well as numerous bishops and dignitaries of the Kingdom of Poland, wishing to have the Blessed John canonized, had brought petitions to Our Predecessors, as likewise now our dearly beloved son in Christ, Stanisław August, King of Poland, along with the Lords of that realm, especially its Spiritual Lords, the aldermen of Cracow and all the fellows and professors of the University in that city were yet again entreating Us to promulgate the final deed for the canonization of the Holy Man which they were longing to have, therefore, in accordance with the custom and pursuant to the deeds issued by Our Predecessors, to accomplish such a momentous deed, We first held a secret consistory of the college of cardinals, our venerable brothers in the Holy Roman Church, on 27th April last, to hear their counsel. When they had the full information relating to the matter before them, they exhorted Us not to delay any longer and complete as soon as possible.
Thereupon we summoned to Rome our venerable brothers the archbishops and bishops, not just from the neighboring sees, but also from the more distant parts of Italy, to present their advice, if God had inspired them with any ideas, on the ceremonials for the canonization of the Blessed John Cantius, along with Joseph Calasantius of the Mother of God, Joseph of Cupertino, Jerome Emiliani, Serafino de Monte Granario of Asculo, and Jeanne Frémiot de Chantal.
Moreover, to make known the Blessed John’s extraordinary virtues and proven miracles, as well as to guarantee that the utmost caution was observed in the discussion of the entire matter, we commissioned the compilation and publication of its subject and contents, extracted from the authentic documents, while the printed version was to be make available to all the Fathers who were to vote. Soon after we established a date for the public consistory meeting, for 7th May of the current year, to be held in our presence and attended by all the ecclesiastical dignitaries and colleges; and we directed Alexander Litta, our consistorial attorney, to deliver an oration presenting the virtues and miracles of the Blessed John.
Finally, having convened a semi-public consistory session for 1st June of the current year, we asked the cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, and the patriarchs, archbishops and bishops who had come to Rome whether we should proceed with the canonization of Blessed John Cantius. They were all unanimous in their approval, which they expressed after presenting a number of important arguments to support their opinion, whereupon, we instructed our beloved sons, the notaries public of the Holy See, to draw up the appropriate deeds, and gave orders for the voters’ written opinions to be sent to the archives to the Holy Roman Church.
To learn the will of God the Best and the Supreme even more clearly, we ordered public prayers said and days of general fasting throughout the City of Rome, and designated three patriarchal basilicas in which the Holy Sacrament was to be displayed for three days of public adoration, exhorting all to cleanse their souls in the Sacrament of Confession and partake in the Body of Christ, and to join in prayers with us in at least one of the aforementioned basilicas, entreating God the Omnipotent to send down on Us the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, under whose guidance His will would be revealed; and a full indulgence for the remission of sins was granted for the occasion.
We ourselves offered up prayers, apart from our fervent prayers said privately in a spirit of humble trust, we also led the public ceremonies in the three designated basilicas, during which we observed, not without a sense of piety and spiritual exultation in Our Lord, the great devoutness of the people of Rome, with worshippers of all estates and social conditions attending the ceremonies in the three basilicas and offering up their zealous prayers to heaven, even though their silence, for the solemn declaration of the cult of this Holy Man.
Finally, on the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel (July 16th), the anniversary of Our coronation, in the Basilica of St. Peter Prince of the Apostles splendidly and beautifully decorated for the occasion, preceded by the procession customary for such public supplications, consisting of the clergy of all ranks and estates, both diocesan priests and religious, members of the administrative colleges of the Roman Curia, along with Our venerable brothers, the cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, as well as the patriarchs, archbishops, and bishops; prior to offering up the immaculate Host of God the Omnipotent in the solemn sacrifice of the New Law; at the repeated petitions of Our beloved son Carlo Rezzonico of St. Clement, Cardinal-Presbyter and now Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, appointed Procurator for the canonization; after the sacred prayers had been sung to beseech the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mother of God, all the angels and saints glorified with Christ, after We had implored the Holy Spirit the Comforter to come down in honor of the Indivisible Holy Trinity, for the exaltation of the Catholic faith and the advancement of the Christian religion, by the authority of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, by the full apostolic powers granted us, and on the advice and consent of Our venerable brothers the cardinals, patriarchs, archbishops and bishops of the Holy Roman Church present in Rome, We decreed and pronounced the Blessed John Cantius diocesan priest, along with Blessed Joseph Calasantius of the Mother of God, Joseph of Cupertino, Jerome Emiliani, Serafino de Monte Granario of Asculo, and Jeanne Françoise Frémiot de Chantal Saints, and ordered their names entered in the Catalogue of Saints; and we recommended St. John Cantius be honored by all Christians and accorded the religious veneration proper for a true Saint, which in this deed we hereby determine, lay down, and declare, instituting and permitting the erection and consecration throughout the Universal Church of churches and altars dedicated to this Saint for the saying of Mass; and that every year the commemoration of St. John Cantius Confessor be celebrated in the Church on 19th October.
By the same authority we hereby mercifully grant all faithful Christians who visit the tomb in which the body of the said St. John rests on the day of his feast in any year a perpetual indulgence of seven years and seven forty-day fasts of penance imposed on them, or due from them in any other way, as is the custom of the Church. Whereby having accorded the Father, the King of Glory, Our Lord Christ, Son of the Eternal Father, and the Holy Spirit the Paraclete, One God, the worship and thanksgiving due them, and having granted a plenary remission of sins and indulgences to all Christians present in St. Peter’s, we celebrated a solemn Mass over the Apostle’s confession, with a special commemoration of the new Saints. For if the glorious signs whereby the true Church may be recognized include the sanctity revealed and confirmed by God of those of whatever estate and social condition who have become known for their holiness, then it is certainly right and religious to give thanks to God through Jesus Christ, for having deigned to bestow on St. John Cantius such a wealth of graces from the treasury with which every day he fills the Old and New Testaments, and to manifest these graces for the honor and glory of the Church in the miracles which opened up the way and admitted this excellent Servant of God to his canonization.
Moreover our congratulations are due to the renowned Polish nation, which, since it is superior to others in its adherence to religious devotion, cannot but be feeling great joy that at this time of turmoil and threat to religion it has gained a new patron to assist it, by whose splendid and noble personal qualities it may become more and more intrepid in the face of all danger, surely and valiantly preserving the Roman faith against the onslaught of the vicinal heretics and schismatics, which the Polish people have always gloriously done, even up to the sacrifice of their lives. And every time the University of Cracow, turns its gaze on this its erstwhile Alumnus, now its Patron, which it does every day, it shall see a brilliant example, from whom its masters and doctors shall learn how to be good tutors and what is right and moral, for the deceased John is still speaking to them and encouraging them to practice the virtues.
Since the said Cardinal Carlo, appointed Procurator for this canonization, entreated Us with all due respect to issue an apostolic letter to commemorate all these acts for all time, We readily granted his petition and gave orders for the drawing up and publication of the present deed, and ruled that transcripts, including printed copies, signed by a notary public and with the official ecclesiastical seal upon them, be held by all as true and accurate copies of the original and given the same credence when presented or displayed in public.
Let no man dare infringe or rashly contradict this document with our decision, decree, entry, recommendation, institution, permission, indulgence, and will. If any should be presumptuous enough to attempt such a thing, let him know that he shall incur the indignation of the Omnipotent God and the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul.
Given in Rome at St. Peter’s in the one thousandth seven hundredth and sixty-seventh year of the Lord’s Incarnation, on the seventeenth day of July, in the tenth year of Our Pontificate.
I, Clement, Bishop of the Catholic Church