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Matthew of Janow



A medieval ecclesiastical author, born in the fourteenth century in Bohemia; died at Prague, 30 Nov., 1394. Son of Wenzel of Janow, a Bohemian knight, he began his studies at Prague and continued them at the University of Paris where he graduated after a residence of nine years. Hence his title of Parisian Master (Magister Parisiensis). In 1381 he was appointed canon and confessor in the cathedral of Prague, offices which he held until his death. He was never a preacher of the first rank, but was conspicuous for his great zeal in the confessional. Between the years 1388 and 1392 he composed several treatises which he later collected under the title "Regulae Veteris et Novi Testamenti" The work has never been published in its entirety, nor is it to be found complete in any one manuscript. Parts of it were wrongly ascribed to John Hus and published with his writings (Nuremberg, 1588, I, 376-471).

Janow attributed the evils in the Church to the contemporary Papal Schism, the large number of papal exemptions and reservations, and the excessive importance attached by some Christians to accidental external practices. Owing to the abuses which at times attended the veneration of saints and relics, he ultimately advocated the removal of such special objects of piety from the churches. He was misled into this extreme view by his desire of promoting an intense interior devotion to the Blessed Eucharist. The frequent and even daily reception of Holy Communion by the laity was, according to him, not only desirable but almost necessary. At the Synod of Prague in 1389 such encouragement of daily Communion was prohibited, and the veneration of images defended. Janow's retraction of his erroneous views and his repeated protestations of never-failing loyalty to the Catholic Church are sufficient evidence that he cannot be styled, as is frequently done, a forerunner of Hus.

N.A. WEBER








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