Feast Day: December 23
Born:1390 :: Died:1473
John was born at Kanty in Poland and was the son of good country folk. Seeing how intelligent their son was, they sent him to the University of Krakow. He was a brilliant student who became a priest, a teacher, and a preacher.
He was also well-known for his great love of the poor. Once he was eating in the university dining hall. At the beginning of the meal, he happened to see a beggar passing by the window. Immediately, he jumped up and gave the man his dinner.
Some people became very jealous of St. John's success as a teacher and preacher. His enemies finally told lies about him and managed to have him sent to a parish as a pastor. Here, he put his whole heart into the new life.
At first, however, things did not go well at all. The people did not like St. John much, because John was terribly afraid of the responsibility, although he tried to do his best.
But he did not give up, and he finally won the hearts of his parishioners. He was a serious man, and humble but all the poor knew him well because of his kindness. By the time he was called back to the university, the people of his parish loved him dearly. They went part of the way with him.
In fact, they were so sad to see him go that he had to tell them: "This sadness does not please God. If I have done any good for you in all these years, sing a song of joy."
Back in Krakow, St. John taught Bible classes and again became a very popular teacher. He was invited to the homes of rich nobles. Still, however, he gave everything he had to the poor and dressed very poorly himself.
Once he wore an old black habit, called a cassock, to a banquet. The servants refused to let him in. St. John went home and changed into a new one. During the dinner, someone spilled a dish of food on the new cassock. "Never mind," said the saint with good humor, "my cassock deserves some food, anyway, because without it, I wouldn't have been here at all."
St. John lived to be eighty-three. Again and again during all those years he cleaned out everything he owned to help the poor. He slept little and that too on the floor. He did not eat any meat and ate only just enough to live.
When people burst into tears on hearing that he was dying, he said, "Don't worry about this prison which is decaying. Think of the soul that is going to leave it." He died in 1473.
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