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  • Fr. Scott Haynes

St. John Cantius and Apple Orchard of Babica

Fr. Scott A. Haynes


Knowing the value of family, St. John Cantius would often travel back to his hometown, Key, to see his relatives. Late, one summer's day, as St. John Cantius was leaving church to go home, he stumbled upon a couple of men in a millet field who were engaged in a brutal fight. As they beat each other like savage brutes, they rolled on the ground which was cover by the sheaves of grain. Shocked at all of this, St. John Cantius tried to intervene and bring the fight to a halt. At that moment, one of the men accidentally struck the holy priest.


Once they realized the good priest was hurt, they stopped hitting each other and began to attend to St. John Cantius. Seeing the blood gushing from the good priest's forehead, the men began to accuse each other of striking the priest. St. John Cantius tried to quiet them. These men were ashamed that this good priest was injured as a result of their fighting. As the good priest stood up and composed himself, they hung their heads in shame.


St. John Cantius then proceeded to question them about why they were fighting. What was the cause of their dispute? They began to list their grievances against one another. They listed the grudges they had held against each other over the years, and then they began to ask for the Saint's forgiveness. St. John Cantius was willing to grant absolution and forgiveness if they would fulfill an act of contrition.


St. John Cantius then instructed the men to fill a sack of apples for each of the wrongs they had committed against each other. They were to then carry that bag wherever they went for the next fourteen days, after which they were to find St. John Cantius once more.



After the two weeks passed, the men found St. John Cantius. They arrived carrying their sacks filled with apples. The holy priest asked,

"How did you feel while carrying your apples?"

Venting their frustrations, the men voiced their complaints about hauling the heavy bags and about the seeping rot and stink of the apples as the decay daily increased.


Listening quietly, St. John Cantius then instructed them, saying:

"This is exactly the same situation when you carry hatred for somebody inside your heart. The stench of your hatred will stain your heart and you will carry it with you everywhere you go. If you cannot tolerate the smell of rotten apples for only two weeks, can you imagine what it is like to have this rot in your heart for a lifetime?"

As they listened to the wisdom of the good Saint, the light of the Holy Spirit enlightened them to understand the truth of this lesson. With this, they were reconciled and found once again the peace of Christ which surpasses all understanding. St. John Cantius was pleased as he saw the men embrace forgiveness and love. He then instructed the men to dig a deep hole and bury the apples in the ground. St. John Cantius then explained that, in time, the apples will flower and bloom again, as new life arises. To this day, in the village of Babica, Poland, the orchard these two friends (once enemies) planted still blossoms in the Spring, and the apples are given to the poor and hungry.