23.10.

1456: John of Capistrano: Saint Who Defended Christianity from the Turks

1456: John of Capistrano: Saint Who Defended Christianity from the Turks
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  • historical event:
  • Saint John of Capistrano was a Franciscan who organized the Christians from Central Europe in order the help Belgrade, which had been besieged by the Ottoman Turks. The Christian army managed to successfully defend the city.

This day marked the death of the famous Saint John of Capistrano. He was Italian by birth, and got his name from his home town of Capestrano, in central Italy (the Abruzzo region). St. John of Capistrano was a member of the Franciscan order. He preached throughout Central Europe, and was particularly active in defending Christian Europe from the Ottoman incursions.

This was the time of Mehmed II the Conqueror, when the Ottoman expansion into Europe was at its zenith. In 1453 the Sultan took Constantinople, one of the greatest European cities and the capital of the Byzantine Empire. His goal on the Balkans was to conquer Belgrade, a powerful fortress which was considered to be the “key to Hungary”.

In summer 1456, Mehmed laid siege to Belgrade. The pope allegedly ordered that people in all Catholic kingdoms should pray for the defenders of the city. John Hunyadi (father of Matthias Corvinus), one of the greatest leaders in the wars against the Ottomans, was the commander of the city’s defenders.

St. John of Capistrano organized the Christians from Central Europe in order the help Belgrade, which was besieged by the Ottoman Turks. It is rather interesting that the saint-monk was already 70 years old at the time. Despite his age, he led the army against the Ottomans with great zeal. Together with Hunyadi, he managed to defeat the Ottomans and save Belgrade.

Despite its success, the Christian army suffered greatly soon after the battle. Plague struck its camp, and took the life of Hunyadi himself some three weeks later. St. John of Capistrano also died from the disease, on this day in 1456. He was buried in the town of Ilok on the coast of the Danube (modern Croatia).

 

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