John was born at Capistrano, Italy, in 1386, the son of a former German knight in that city. He studied law at the University of Perugia and practiced as a lawyer in the courts of Naples.
His talents and success were great. When he was 26, King Ladislas of Naples appointed him governor of Perugia. During a war with a neighboring town he was betrayed and imprisoned.
This sad experience at least gave him time in which to meditate, and he decided to enter the
Franciscan community at Perugia in 1416. He and St. James of the March were fellow students under St. Bernardine of Siena, who inspired him to institute the devotion to the holy Name of Jesus and His Mother.
St. John proved a great preacher, most especially among university students. He organized the Franciscan Observant Friars and was called "the apostle of Europe" thanks to his constant preaching in Italy, the Holy Land, the Low Countries, Austria, Germany, Poland, Hungary, and Moravia.
When the Turks captured Constantinople in 1453, he 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 of 70,000 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 the infection bred by the refuse of battle. He died at Illok, Hungary, on October 23, 1456. He was canonized in 1690.
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