CAPISTRANO, GIOVANNI DI: Franciscan; b. at Capistrano (22 m. s.e. of Aquila), in the Abruzzi, 1386; d. at Illok (Ujlak, 26 m. w. of Peterwardein), Slavonia, Oct. 23, 1456. He first studied jurisprudence, but joined the Franciscans in 1416 and in the school of Bernardin of Sienna became a theologian and preacher. After 1426 he acted as inquisitor against the Fratricelli and Jews, and by cruel measures attained a moderate success. His main achievement was the defense and extension of the order of the Observantines, of whom he was made vicar-general in Italy in 1446. In 1451 he was sent to Germany against the Hussites. Followed by large crowds, he went to Vienna, and is reported to have performed 320 miracles on the way, while the number of his hearers is said to have increased from 150 to 300,000. He intended now to go to Bohemia to destroy the heresy there; a disputation to which he was invited by the Utraquist bishop Rokyczana he managed to avoid, and finally he did venture to enter the country. ∆neas Silvius states that he did, indeed, convert a few Hussites, but, considering the multitude of the heretics, they are hardly worth mentioning. At any rate Bohemia, in spite of his sermons, remained as it was before. By way of Bavaria, Saxony, and Lusatia, he went to Silesia and Poland, and on account of his sermons and miracles was everywhere revered like a saint. After the fall of Constantinople (1453) he tried to induce the princes of Germany at the Diets of Frankfort and Wiener-Neustadt to make war against the Turks, but failed, and was very little successful generally in preaching the cross. He went to Hungary in 1455 and when Mohammed II. advanced against Belgrade (1456) Capistrano, the papal legate Carjaval, and John Hunyadi were almost the only men who bestirred themselves to repel the foe. In spite of his age, Capistrano with a number of crusaders went to Belgrade and by a daring sally gave Hunyadi opportunity to beat the Turks. For this the friends of his order have celebrated
BIBLIOGRAPHY: The early Vitú and some of John's letters are in ASB, Oct., x. 269-552, with which cf. L. Wadding, Annales Minorum, vols. iv.-vi., Leyden, 1648, or ix.-xiii., Rome, 1734 (an excellent source). The most comprehensive biography is by A. Hermann, Capistranus triumphans, Cologne, 1700; the first scientific life is by G. Voigt, in Sybel's Historische Zeitschrift, x. (1863) 19-96; cf. idem, Enea Silvio di' Piccolomini, vol. ii., Berlin, 1860; the latest life is by E. Jacob, Johannes von Capistrano, Breslau, 1903. A considerable list of literature is given in Potthast, Wegweiser, pp. 1396-97.
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