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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Saint John of Capistrano



Saint John of Capistrano (also known as Giovanni da Capestrano; John Capistran) was born in 1386 at Capistrano, Italy. His father had formerly been a German knight, and died when John was still young. He was the reforming governor of Perugia under King Landislas of Naples. When war broke out between Perugia and Malatesta in 1416, John tried to broker a peace, but instead his opponents ignored the truce, and John became a prisoner of war.

During his captivity, he came to the decision to change vocations. He had married just before the war, but the marriage was never consummated, and with his bride's permission, it was annulled. John joined the Franciscans at Perugia on October 1416. He was a student with Saint James of the Marches, and a disciple of Saint Bernadine of Siena. John was a noted preacher while still a deacon, beginning his work in 1420, and he was an itinerant priest throughout Italy, Germany, Bohemia, Austria, Hungary, Poland, and Russia, preaching to tens of thousands. He established communities of Franciscan renewal, and was reported to heal by making the Sign of the Cross over a sick person. He was a prolific writer, writing mainly against the heresies of his day.

After the fall of Constantinople, he preached Crusade against the Muslim Turks. At the age of 70, he was commissioned by Pope Callistus II to lead it, and marched off at the head of 70,000 Christian soldiers. He won the battle of Belgrade in the summer of 1456, and he died in the field a few months later, but his army delivered Europe from the Muslims.

Saint John of Capistrano died of natural causes in 1456 at Villach, Hungary.


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