Saint John of Capistrano
St. John of Capistrano: A Life of Zeal and Devotion
When they lived:
St. John of Capistrano, also known as St. John Capistrano, lived from June 24, 1386, to October 23, 1456.
Where they lived:
St. John of Capistrano was born in the town of Capistrano, in the Kingdom of Naples (now located in Italy). Throughout his life, he traveled extensively, leaving a profound impact on various regions of Europe.
Notable world events during the time of their life:
- The Fall of Constantinople (May 29, 1453): During St. John’s lifetime, the once-mighty Byzantine Empire came to an end with the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire. This event marked the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the Renaissance, leaving a lasting impact on the political and cultural landscape of Europe.
- The Invention of the Printing Press (c. 1440): Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the movable-type printing press revolutionized the spread of knowledge and information. The dissemination of ideas through printed books played a pivotal role in shaping religious and intellectual movements during St. John’s time, including the spread of his own teachings.
- The Council of Florence (1431-1449): This significant ecumenical council aimed to reunite the Roman Catholic Church with the Eastern Orthodox Church. Though the ultimate goal of reconciliation was not fully achieved, the Council fostered dialogue and understanding between the two branches of Christianity.
- The Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453): St. John’s life coincided with the later stages of this infamous conflict between England and France. The war had far-reaching consequences, not only in terms of territorial disputes but also in transforming warfare tactics and shaping the political alliances of the time.
- The Birth of Christopher Columbus (1451): In the same year St. John of Capistrano passed away, the great explorer Christopher Columbus was born. Columbus’s discoveries in the New World would soon change the course of history, ushering in the Age of Exploration and expanding Europe’s worldview.
St. John of Capistrano is renowned as the patron saint of judges, jurists, and military chaplains. His commitment to upholding justice and his tireless efforts in promoting religious devotion made him a revered figure in the realm of law and spirituality.
Dedication and devotion
While in prison, Saint John gave his life to Christ. Perhaps the thought of possible death convinced him to take his life very seriously.
He resolved to turn a new leaf.
Upon his release, Saint John joined the community of Saint Francis of Assisi. He became a Franciscan friar around the age of 30.
Although a married man, he took the holy cow because his marriage was never consummated.
On the 4th of October, 1416, Saint John joined the Peruvian Order of the Friar Minors. After a while, he traveled to Fiesole, where he learned and researched theology. At Fiesole, he was tutored by Saint Bernardine of Siena.
Afterward, he decided to adopt an ascetic lifestyle. He was austere and a staunch defender of the Orthodox. He traveled far and wide to preach the gospel and convert many.
Saint John of Capistrano spent his time preaching, praying, and meditating. He was also said to have written against all kinds of heresies not supported by the Orthodox.
Saints John and Bernadine were said to have supported dedication to the Holy Name of Jesus. This caused them to be accused of heresy. In 1429, the accused were invited to Rome, where John defended their beliefs.
They were immediately acquitted.
Saint John was always picked as a representative of the church when necessary. In 1439, he was commissioned to represent the Church in Milan and Burgundy to debate the claims of the Antipope Felix.
He was also recorded as having been sent to places like France and Austria for legal matters. While performing these duties, he made it a point to preach the gospel throughout the Empire.
Saint John was instrumental in ensuring that peace remained in the churches across the empire. He helped to reunite both the Greek and Armenian churches.
Saint John was vocal about his support of antisemitic violence. Between the years 1451 and 1453, he was known to have ministered against Jews. These sermons were said to have been so powerful that they motivated some regions in Germany to expel their Jewish citizens.
In 1453, Sultan Mehmed II of the Ottoman Empire intimidated the Christian population in Vienna and Rome. Around 1454, seventy-year-old John was sent to rally against the Turks.
Even in his old age, Saint John complied. He initially traveled to Bavaria and Austria to preach. Seeing that he wasn’t getting the results he thought he would, he left for Hungary.
The Hungarians were so impressed with his sermons that they joined him to storm Belgrade. They were led by Saint John of Capistrano.
Death and Canonization
Saint John survived the siege by the Turks. However, the land was taken over by a deadly disease called the bubonic plague.
Old and fragile, Saint John was susceptible to the plague. He died on the 23rd of October, 1456. He was at that time in Ilok, now known as the Croatian/Danube border.
Saint John of Capistrano’s canonization is recorded as 1690 by Pope Alexander VIII or 1724 by Pope Benedict XIII. He is celebrated by the Roman Catholic Church on March 28.
The Franciscan Friars founded two Spanish missions and named them after Saint John.
5 Interesting Facts About Saint John of Capistrano
- Did you know that Saint John of Capistrano joined the Franciscans?
order because he had a dream in which Saint Francis instructed him.
to do so?
- Did you know that Saint John preached to multitudes? He was recorded
to have ministered to about 126,000 people in Italy.
- Did you know that Saint John was one of the four great pillars of
the observant reform of the Friar Minors?
- Did you know that Saint John is sometimes referred to as The Soldier”?
- Did you know that Saint John is the patron saint of the military?
chaplains and jurists?
Prayer to Saint John of Capistrano
Lord, you raised Saint John of Capistrano to give your people comfort in their trials. May your church enjoy unending peace and be secure in your protection. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever Amen.