Saint of the Day for 23 October: St. John of Capistrano
St. John of Capestrano: Life, Miracles and Spiritual Impact of the Franciscan Friar
St. John of Capistrano
June 24, 1386, Capestrano, Aquila
Oct. 23, 1456, Ilok, Croatia
Dec. 19, 1650, Rome, Pope Innocent X
Oct. 16, 1690, Rome, Pope Alexander VIII
O glorious St. John man of God and the Church, animator of bold hosts, we Military Chaplains of the Armed Forces of Land, Sky and Sea. We pray to You with the same ardor that You had when You invoked the Lord in leading Your men to the preservation of Christian civilization We too, by sacred duty to God and Country, are called to support the new generations in the pursuit and defense of the supreme values of justice and peace. Teach us to love our soldiers as You loved them, to feel them closer than brothers, to understand them in their human and spiritual aspirations. Help us to bring to the hearts of our Units the same passion of faith and the integrity of our witness. This our men-at-arms ask of us, and this we must extend to them. To Thee therefore, O heavenly our Patron, we turn; from Thee, O seraphic apostle, we impart and by Thy merits we await the Gifts of the Spirit. Amen.
Patron Saint of
Military chaplains, jurists
Saint John of Capestrano, priest of the Order of Friars Minor, who defended the observance of the rule and carried out his ministry throughout most of Europe in support of the Catholic faith and morals. With the fervor of his exhortations and prayers he encouraged the people of the faithful and engaged in the defense of Christian freedom. He died near Ujlak on the banks of the Danube in the Kingdom of Hungary.
The Saint and Mission
St. John of Capestrano, a key figure among the Franciscan Friars Minor, played a significant role in defining evangelical mission during his time. His life, marked by a journey of conversion and deep spiritual reflection, resulted in a passionate commitment to reaffirming the Christian faith in a turbulent Europe threatened by heresies and internal divisions, and even external invasions.
John’s missionary vocation is clear from his determination to counter the heresies that were endangering the Catholic faith. This commitment was not just a theological matter, but a clear manifestation of his deep conviction about the need to maintain purity of doctrine in order to lead souls to salvation. His eloquence and persuasive skills met with great success, leading many to conversion and renewed commitment to the faith.
Moreover, his missionary outreach was not limited only to Europe. When the Christian West was threatened by the expansion of the Ottoman Empire, St. John of Capestrano did not hesitate to take an active part in the defense of Christendom, not only spiritually but also physically. His participation in the Battle of Belgrade in 1456, where Christians succeeded in repelling Ottoman forces, is a testimony to his total commitment to the mission of protecting and promoting the faith.
This aspect of his life reminds us that mission, in John’s understanding, was not only about preaching or conversion, but also about protecting the Christian community. He saw his mission not only as a call to renew the faith among the faithful, but also as a call to defend the integrity of the Church against external threats.
St. John of Capestrano represents an emblematic figure of a missionary who, with deep zeal and dedication, sought to fully live out the Gospel call in all its aspects. His life offers us a profound reflection on the authentic meaning of mission: not only as the proclamation of the Word, but as a total commitment, ranging from the defense of doctrine to concrete action in the field, to ensure that the light of faith shines in every corner of the world.
The Saint and Mercy
St. John of Capestrano, one of the luminaries of the Franciscan Order, exemplarily embodied the concept of mercy in his life and ministry. In an age marked by religious conflicts, heresies and political tensions, his figure emerges as a bulwark of Christian compassion and love.
Mercy, in the Christian context, goes beyond mere pity or the act of forgiveness; it is a tangible expression of God’s love manifested through human action. John of Capestrano understood this truth deeply. His Franciscan vocation, inspired by the life of St. Francis of Assisi, led him to live in close harmony with the poor and marginalized. Rather than limiting himself to symbolic gestures of charity, he sought to address the roots of injustice and alienation, promoting a vision of society based on fraternity and mutual love.
One of the most remarkable aspects of his life was his ability to dialogue with people of different faiths and beliefs. At a time when religious intolerance was widespread, John showed a profound ability to listen and understand, always seeking to build bridges of dialogue rather than walls of division. This openness to dialogue was rooted in his deep conviction of God’s universal mercy, which extends to all human beings regardless of their faith or background.
However, one cannot talk about the mercy of St. John of Capestrano without mentioning his commitment to the reform of the Church. For him, true mercy was not just an outward gesture, but required a deep inner transformation. He was convinced that to be truly merciful, it was necessary first to purify one’s heart and renew one’s life. This led him to advocate the need for spiritual and moral reform within the Church so that it could be a true sign and instrument of God’s mercy in the world.
The life of St. John of Capestrano represents a shining example of how mercy can be transformed into concrete action, touching the lives of countless people. His dedication to the cause of the poor, his passion for dialogue and his tireless quest for spiritual renewal are all manifestations of the deep mercy that burned in his heart. He invites all of us to reflect on the true nature of mercy and how we can embody it in our daily lives.
Those who say that priests, religious and nuns are useless people have in this saint a solemn refutation. John of Capestrano was a priest, religious, apostle, warrior and shrewd diplomat: his name deserves to stand next to that of the greatest of men in history.
He was born in Capestrano in Abruzzo. He made his studies in Perugia, where he made such progress especially in law that Ladislaus, king of Naples, entrusted him with the government of several cities in his kingdom. While the saint was endeavoring to bring peace between the factions, he himself was taken and…