What’s in That Prayer? The Collect for Saint John Cantius

Here is the oration that the Church prays in the Mass and Office for Saint John Cantius (October 20):

Da, quǽsumus, omnípotens Deus: ut, sancti Ioánnis Confessóris exémplo in sciéntia Sanctórum proficiéntes, atque áliis misericórdiam exhibéntes; eius méritis, indulgéntiam apud te consequámur.

Here is my translation:

Grant us, O God, we beseech Thee: that by the example of the Confessor, Saint John, advancing in the science of the Saints and showing mercy to others we may, by his merits, obtain pardon from Thee.

Here is the translation from the Divinum Officium site:

Grant, we beseech thee, O Almighty God, that we may so follow after the example of thy blessed Confessor John in learning ever more and more the knowledge which maketh thy Saints, and in showing mercy to our neighbour, that Thou for the same thy servant’s sake mayest forgive us our trespasses.

Today’s saint was a scholar and an ascetic, an academic and a contemplative, a miracle-worker and a man of humble and meek demeanor towards the poor and even his enemies, to whom he showed great mercy. He once, after having been robbed of all the money he had with him, found two coins sewed up in his cassock and ran after the robbers to give them what they missed. This act of heroic meekness converted them. The combination of his showing mercy and being a learned yet holy academic probably explains reference in this oration to both “the science of the Saints” and “showing mercy to others.”

Saint John Cantius was canonized in 1767, at a very tragic time for his nation. Poland was dismembered — “partitioned” — a mere five years later. Dom Guéranger pays tribute to what this great Catholic nation suffered at that time. A glimpse at today’s Divine Office — which has an uncommon amount of proper parts for a third-class feast — reveals the Church’s loving concern for her loyal daughter. Here is an excerpt from the Matins hymn:

O qui negásti némini
Opem rogánti, pátrium
Regnum tuére, póstulant
Cives Polóni et éxteri.

Loosely rendered in English, that is:

O thou who never didst deny
thine aid unto the suppliant’s prayer,
Hear Christendom’s and Poland’s cry,
And save thy country from despair.

And in the Vespers hymn, we sing:

Gentis Polónæ glória,
Cleríque splendor nóbilis,
Decus Lycǽi, et pátriæ
Pater, Ioánnes ínclite.

Which is rendered:

O glory of the Polish race,
O splendour of the priestly band,
Whose lore did thy lyceum grace,
John, father of the fatherland.

Seeking the pardon of God by imitating the virtues of this saint is, in the divine economy, a recipe for peace among men and nations. May Saint John Cantius intercede for us to obtain it.


Stained glass window from Saint John Cantius Parish, Bridesburg, Philadelphia, PA