by Rev. Vincent Fitzgerald, OFM., 1911
"The last years of Capistran's life were those which embraced a crisis in the history of Europe more threatening than any that had occurred since the breaking up of the Roman Empire and the consequent adjustment of the nations. Islam had indeed long ruled part of Spain ; but it had been kept within bounds, and, even now, its strength was failing. The same power held sway over most of nearer Asia and Africa; yet, in the ages of the Crusades, it had never seriously threatened the security of Europe. But a new and more warlike race had arisen out of the Moslem hordes, and, during a hundred and fifty years, had grown strong, and had passed from conquest to conquest till now it threatened the very existence of Christian Europe. -- Page 69 - 70
"Never since the invasions of Huns and Goths had Christendom been in such peril; and never were Christian princes more supine and inert in time of danger. Only the rulers of the Church seemed to realize the gravity of the crisis.-- page 73.
"The time for immediate action had arrived. Belgrade was to be the battle-ground. There must the foe be met, and, with God's help, conquered, if Europe were to be preserved.--page 86.
"Capistran's own activity during these days was most remarkable. He scarce ate or slept, and, though seventy years old, he had all the endurance of a robust youth. He was to be seen everywhere, consoling the timid, providing for the needs of the sick and wounded, exhorting the soldiers to bravery, inspiring all with his own unbounded trust in God. So unremitting were his exertions that no one could accompany him for long without being overcome by fatigue. Even a powerful horse, that Hunyady gave him to lighten his toil, was worn out, and died within a few days. Yet he appeared to grow stronger as the days passed by. Each morning he celebrated Mass, and addressed to the people words of hope and of encouragement to perseverance in prayer and piety.--page 94.
"(St. John Capistran) knew that the supreme moment had come: 'Let him flee who is afraid,' he cried. 'For forty years I have waited for this hour.' Then, standing on an eminence, exposing himself to imminent danger of death from the arrows and spears that sped through the air, he called aloud to the Christians that the time of glorious victory had come and that God had delivered the enemy into their hands. He ordered Peter, his standard-bearer, to raise the cross and turn it towards the foe."--page 100.
St. John Capistran was a saint of miracles. His vocation was to a great and apostolic work. He was to preach the Gospel to the heretics of his time in divers countries, to men of wild fanaticism, lawless and depraved, with hearts far more hardened to the truth than were ever the pagans of Greece and Rome or the idolaters of Egypt and India. To him therefore, as to the first Apostles, wondrous powers were given: "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils: freely have you received; freely give."
No one was more esteemed by his brethren than John Capistran ; no one more in favour at the Roman court ; no one more learned in civil and canon law ; no one more zealous for the conversion of heretics, schismatics, and Jews; no one more solicitous for the advancement of religion ; no one more powerful in working miracles; no one more skilled in defending the faith; no one more desirous of martyrdom; no one more illustrious by the fame of sanctity.
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