The Full Wiki

St. John of Capistran: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


(Redirected to John of Capistrano article)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

John of Capistrano
Manuscript depicting Giovanni da Capistrano, ca. 1470.
Born June 24, 1386(1386-06-24), Capestrano, Abruzzi, Kingdom of Naples
Died October 23, 1456 (aged 70), Ilok, modern Croatia[1]
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Canonized 1690 or 1724, Rome by either Pope Alexander VIII or Pope Benedict XIII
Feast 23 October; 28 March (General Roman Calendar, 1890-1969)
Patronage Jurists

John of Capistrano (Italian: Giovanni da Capistrano, Hungarian: Kapisztrán János), (June 24, 1386 – October 23, 1456), was a Franciscan priest from Italy. 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.

Elevated to sainthood, he is the patron saint of jurists, as well as the namesake of the Franciscan missions San Juan Capistrano in Southern California and San Juan Capistrano in San Antonio, Texas.

His zeal against those he believed heretics and infidels was unrelenting and sometimes harsh. He was feared and hated by the Jews.


Early life

As was the custom of this time, Giovanni took his name from his birthplace: the village of Capestrano, in the diocese of Sulmona in the Abruzzi, Kingdom of Naples. His father had come to Italy with the Angevin court of Louis I of Anjou, King of Naples. He lived at first a wholly secular life, studied law at the University of Perugia under the legal scholar Pietro de Ubaldis, married, and became a successful magistrate. In 1412, Ladislas of Naples appointed him governor of Perugia, a tumultuous and resentful papal fief held by Ladislas as the pope's champion, in order to effectively establish public order. When war broke out between Perugia and Sigismondo Malatesta in 1416, John was sent as ambassador to broker a peace, but Malatesta threw him in prison. During the captivity, in despair he put aside his new young wife, never having consummated the marriage, and started studying theology with St. Bernardine of Siena.

Friar and preacher

Together with St. James of the Marches, Capistrano entered the Franciscan order at Perugia on October 4, 1416. At once he gave himself up to the most rigorous asceticism, violently defending the ideal of strict observance and orthodoxy, following the example set by St. Bernardine. From 1420 onwards he preached with great effect in numerous cities and eventually became well known. Unlike most Italian preachers of repentance in the 15th century, Giovanni da Capistrano was effective in the north, in Germany, Bohemia, Austria, Hungary, Croatia and Poland. The largest churches could not hold the crowds, so he preached in the piazzas: at Brescia he preached to a crowd of 126,000.


San Giovanni da Capistrano

When he was not preaching, he was writing tracts against heresy of every kind. This facet of Giovanni's life is covered in great detail by his early biographers, Nicholas of Fara, Christopher of Varese and Girlamo of Udine. While he was thus evangelizing, he was actively engaged in assisting Bernardino in the reforms of the Franciscan Order, largely in the interests of more rigorous discipline in the Franciscan hierarchy. Like St. Bernardine of Siena, he strongly emphasized devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus, and, together with that saint, was accused of heresy on this account. In 1429 these Observant friars were called to Rome to answer charges of heresy, and John was chosen by his companions to speak for them. They were all acquitted by the Commission of Cardinals. He was frequently deployed to embassies by Popes Eugene IV and Nicholas V. In 1439 he was sent as legate to Milan and Burgundy, to oppose the claims of the Antipope Felix V; in 1446 he was on a mission to the King of France; in 1451 he went at the request of the emperor as Apostolic nuncio to Austria. Between 1451 and 1453, his fiery sermons against Jews persuaded many southern German regions to expel the entire Jewish population, and at Breslau some were burned at the stake.[2][3] During the period of his nunciature, John visited all parts of the Empire, preaching and combatting the heresy of the Hussites; he also visited Poland at the request of Casimir IV Jagiellon. As legate, or inquisitor, he prosecuted the last Fraticelli of Ferrara, the Jesuati of Venice, the Crypto-Jews of Sicily, Moldavia and Poland, and, above all, the Hussites of Germany, Hungary and Bohemia; his aim in the last case was to make conferences impossible between the representatives of Rome and the Bohemians, for every attempt at conciliation seemed to him to be conniving at heresy.

Statue of János Kapisztrán in Budapest, Hungary

The soldier Saint

After the Fall of Constantinople, when Mehmed II was threatening Vienna and Rome, Pope Callixtus III sent him at the age of seventy, to preach a Crusade against the invading Turks at the Diet of Frankfurt in 1454, and he succeeded in gathering together enough troops to march onto Belgrade, which at that time was under siege by Mehmed II. In the summer of 1456, these troops, together with John Hunyadi, managed to raise the siege of Belgrade, with the old and frail Capistrano actually leading his own contingent into battle. This feat earned him the moniker of 'the Soldier Priest', and although he survived the battle, Capistrano fell victim to the bubonic plague, which flourished in the unsanitary conditions prevailing among armies of the day. He died at nearby Ilok, Kingdom of Hungary-Croatia (which is now a border town between Croatia and Serbia across the Danube from Bácspalánka).

St. John Capistrano, in spite of this restless life, found time to work, both in the lifetime of his mentor St. Bernardine, and after, at the reform of the order of the minor Franciscans. He also upheld, in his writings, speeches and sermons, sensible theories of papal supremacy rather than the theological wranglings of councils (see Conciliar Movement).

Sainthood and feast day

The year of St. John Capistrano's canonization is variously given as 1690, by Pope Alexander VIII or 1724 by Pope Benedict XIII. In 1890, his feast day was included for the first time in the Roman Catholic calendar of saints and assigned to 28 March.[4] In 1969, Pope Paul VI moved his feast day to 23 October, the day of his death. Traditionalist Catholics commemorate his feast day on 28 March, as in the Church's calendar from 1890 to 1969.


As a Franciscan reformer preaching simplicity, Capistrano became the namesake of two Spanish missions founded by the Franciscans in the north of the then-Spanish Americas: Mission San Juan Capistrano in today's Southern California and Mission San Juan Capistrano just outside the city center of today's San Antonio in Texas.[5]

Patron saint

He is patron saint of military chaplains.[6]

See also

External links


  1. ^ Biography in Croatian
  2. ^ Antisemitism: a historical encyclopedia of prejudice and persecution, Richard S. Levy, published by ABC-CLIO, 2005, and available here[1]
  3. ^ Will Durant, The Reformation, Simon & Schuster (1957), page 731
  4. ^ ST JOHN OF CAPISTRANO (A.D. 1456) Retrieved September 13, 2006; Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 106)
  5. ^ Engelhardt, Zephyrin, O.F.M. San Juan Capistrano Mission. 1922. Standard Printing Co., Los Angeles, CA.
  6. ^ Craughwell, Thomas (23 October 2009). "St. John of Capistrano: Patron of Military Chaplains". (reprinted from Arlington Catholic Herald). Retrieved 2009-12-28.  


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address