February 18th : Servant of God John Cardim, SJ

Servant of God John Cardim, SJ

Born: June 2, 1585
Died: February 18, 1615

John Cardim, a Portuguese, was born in Torre de Moncorvo and was the oldest of ten children. His parents supervised their children’s religious upbringing so well that nine of them entered religious life. At thirteen, John was already reciting the rosary and the office of our Lady everyday. His usual reading material was the lives of saints and he tried to impart to others whatever religious instruction he received in school. Several times a week he would gather the servants around him and teach them catechism. He first started with the Jesuits at the College of St Anthony, Lisbon, and at fifteen, he went to the University of Coimbra. Immediately upon his arrival he asked to enter the Society. His desire to be a Jesuit was to follow in the footsteps of three of his uncles, two of his father’s brothers and one of his mother’s. However his desire to enter was not approved by the Jesuit superior because of his frail health and he was encouraged to go and continue his university studies.

As John was still hopeful of becoming a priest, he pursued courses in canon and civil law and did so well that his professors remarked that he would one day emerge as one of the better canon law lawyers. Though talented and successful in studies, he felt he would never be happy unless he were in religion. He decided to place his problem before Our Lady and one day while asking her to allow him to become a Jesuit, he heard her say that his prayer would be granted. So with renewed vigour he presented himself once more before the Jesuit superior and asked for admission, but this time as a brother. When the superior again cast doubts about John’s health and his being unable to withstand the rigours of religious life, John remarked: “No need to be afraid. God has given me a body that is sufficiently robust to endure such penances.”

Perceiving the obvious disappointment in John’s face, the superior finally acquiesced and suggested that since he was not far from his ordination, he should continue his studies and

that he would be accepted after that.

After his ordination in 1611, he entered the Jesuit novitiate at Coimbra as a novice. As a novice John taught catechism twice a week to poor children and make it a point to chat and eat with them after that. He left for his philosophy review in 1611. While at Braga, John was was a regular visitor to the city’s hospitals and prisons and would visit the residents on his weekly break. He would also go to the outlying districts and teach the peasants about God. Soon Fr Cardim became a friend of the poor, sick and needy throughout Braga.

After four short years as a Jesuit, Fr Cardim knew he was soon to go to heaven. He fell ill with pleurisy and as his time came, he kissed the crucifix in his hand. At the moment of death, he appeared to his mother who was miles away, and spoke to her: “Rejoice mother, for I am now on my way to enjoy the vision of God; I owe a great part of my present happiness to you for the holy lessons you taught me.”

After Fr Cardim’s death on February 18, 1615, innumerable favours were received through his intercession and the Portuguese Jesuits began collating material with a view of promoting his cause for beatification. Their efforts were halted during the Society’s suppression between 1773 – 1814 and it was only in 1972 that the Portuguese bishops again revived interest in Fr Cardim’s cause.