Born in 1385 in Italy, Saint John of Capistrano was the child of a previous German knight. He pursued his education in law at the University of Perugia and later on, practiced as an attorney in Naples’ legal courts. His competence and reputation caught the attention of King Ladislas of Naples, who appointed him as the governor of Perugia. Unfortunately, during a conflict with a neighboring city, he was deceived and taken prisoner. Following his release, he decided to take a different path in life and joined the Franciscan community in Perugia in 1416.
Under the mentorship of St. Bernardine of Siena, St. John and St. James of the March flourished. Inspired by St. Bernardine, St. John became a fervent advocate of the devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. He initiated his commendable journey of preaching as a deacon in 1420. After becoming ordained, he embarked on extensive travels across Europe, spreading his message of repentance and founding numerous Franciscan communities for spiritual renewal. His travels took him through Italy, Germany, Bohemia, Austria, Hungary, Poland, and Russia.
As the Ottoman Empire posed a threat to Vienna and Rome under the rule of Mohammed II, St. John, at the age of 70, was entrusted by Pope Callistus III with a crucial mission. He was to preach and lead a crusade to defend against the invading Turks. Demonstrating remarkable leadership, he spearheaded a Christian force of seventy thousand, ultimately achieving victory in the pivotal Battle of Belgrade in 1456.
Sadly, just three months after this triumphant moment, St. John passed away in Ilok, which is now part of modern-day Croatia. His legacy continues to live on, and he is celebrated annually on October 23, his feast day. Saint John of Capistrano is revered as the patron saint of jurists, a testament to his significant contributions and unwavering dedication to justice and faith.
Photo credit: Snek01 via Wikimedia