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The Catholic Defender: Saint John of Capistrano "The Soldier Saint"


Famous as a preacher, theologian, and inquisitor, he earned himself the nickname "the Soldier Saint" when in 1456 at age 70 he led a crusade against the invading Ottoman Empire at the siege of Belgrade with the Hungarian military commander John Hunyadi.


St. John of Capistrano was born in June 24 1386 in Naples, Italy. He studied law at the University of Perugia. In 1412 King Ladislaus of Naples appointed him Governor of Perugia in order to establish public order.


Saint John of Capistrano fell ill soon afterwards, and died in the Franciscan convent of Illok in Hungary on October twenty-third. Glorified by God after his death with numerous miracles, Saint John of Capistrano was canonized by Pope Alexander VIII in 1690.


titled The Curse of Capistrano and was the first appearance of the "Zorro" character, the dashing masked vigilante fighting against the oppression of the King's officials in "Old California," while hiding his real


It has been said the Christian saints are the world’s greatest optimists. Not blind to the existence and consequences of evil, they base their confidence on the power of Christ’s redemption. The power of conversion through Christ extends not only to sinful people but also to calamitous events.


Imagine being born in the 14th century. One-third of the population and nearly 40 percent of the clergy were wiped out by the bubonic plague. The Western Schism split the Church with two or three claimants to the Holy See at one time. England and France were at war. The city-states of Italy were constantly in conflict. No wonder that gloom dominated the spirit of the culture and the times.


John Capistrano was born in 1386. His education was thorough. His talents and success were great. When he was 26 he was made governor of Perugia. Imprisoned after a battle against the Malatestas, he resolved to change his way of life completely. At the age of 30 he entered the Franciscan novitiate and was ordained a priest four years later.


John’s preaching attracted great throngs at a time of religious apathy and confusion. He and 12 Franciscan brethren were received in the countries of central Europe as angels of God. They were instrumental in reviving a dying faith and devotion.


The Franciscan Order itself was in turmoil over the interpretation and observance of the Rule of St. Francis. Through John’s tireless efforts and his expertise in law, the heretical Fraticelli were suppressed and the “Spirituals” were freed from interference in their stricter observance.


John of Capistrano helped bring about a brief reunion with the Greek and Armenian Churches.


When the Turks captured Constantinople in 1453, John was commissioned to preach a crusade for the defense of Europe. Gaining little response in Bavaria and Austria, he decided to concentrate his efforts in Hungary. He led the army to Belgrade. Under the great General John Hunyadi, they gained an overwhelming victory, and the siege of Belgrade was lifted. Worn out by his superhuman efforts, Capistrano was an easy prey to an infection after the battle. He died on October 23, 1456.


John of Capistrano. This saint died in Austria on this date in 1456, when the Church was in the midst of schism and was threatened by the Turks. He was canonized in 1630 and inscribed on the Roman Calendar in 1890.


John Hofer, a biographer of John Capistrano, recalls a Brussels organization named after the saint. Seeking to solve life problems in a fully Christian spirit, its motto was: “Initiative, Organization, Activity.” These three words characterized John’s life. He was not one to sit around. His deep Christian optimism drove him to battle problems at all levels with the confidence engendered by a deep faith in Christ.


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