St. John Capistrano
St. John Capistrano was born in Italy in 1386. He was a lawyer and governor of the city of Perugia. When enemies of the city threw John into prison, he started to think about the real meaning of life. John's political enemies were not in a hurry to release him. He had plenty of time to realize that what mattered most was the salvation of his soul. So when he was miraculously set free, John entered a Franciscan monastery. He was thirty at the time. For John, life as a poor friar was a big change. He had to sacrifice his independence for the love of Jesus. And he tried with all his heart to do this.
After he became a priest, John was sent out to preach. He and his former novice master, St. Bernardine of Siena, spread devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus everywhere. John preached throughout Europe for forty years. All who heard him were moved to love and serve the Lord better.
An outstanding moment in the life of this saint came at the battle of Belgrade. The Turks had made up their minds to conquer Europe and to wipe out the Church of Jesus. The pope sent St. John Capistrano to all the Christian kings of Europe to beg them to unite to fight the mighty Turkish army. The kings obeyed this poor, barefoot friar. He stirred up their love of God and their courage with his fiery words. But even though a big army of Christians came to fight Mohammed II and his Turks, it looked as though they would lose. The enemy army was much bigger. Then it was that the saint himself, though he was seventy years old, ran to the front lines and encouraged the men to keep fighting. Holding his crucifix up high, this thin, small old man kept crying, "Victory, Jesus, victory!" And the Christian soldiers felt full of more courage than ever. They fought until the enemy ran away in fear.
St. John Capistrano died a short time later, on October 23, 1456. He was proclaimed a saint in 1724.
"[Priests] have been placed here to care for others. Their own lives should be an example to others, showing how they must live in the house of the Lord."