Born at Capistrano, in the Diocese of Sulmona,
Italy, 1385; died 23 October, 1456. His father had come to Naples in the train of Louis of Anjou,
hence is supposed to have been of French blood, though some say he was of German origin. His father
dying early, John owed his education to his mother. She had him at first instructed at home and then
sent him to study law at Perugia, where he achieved great success under the eminent legist, Pietro
de Ubaldis. In 1412 he was appointed governor of Perugia by Ladislaus, King of Naples, who then held
that city of the Holy See.
As governor he set himself against civic corruption and bribery. War broke out in 1416 between Perugia and the Malatesta. John was sent as ambassador to propose peace to the Malatesta, who however cast him into prison. It was during this imprisonment that he began to think more seriously about his soul. He decided eventually to give up the world and become a Franciscan Friar, owing to a dream he had in which he saw St. Francis and was warned by the saint to enter the Franciscan Order. John had married a wealthy lady of Perugia immediately before the war broke out, but as the marriage was not consummated he obtained a dispensation to enter religion, which he did 4 October, 1416.
After this, Pope Martin V conceived the idea of uniting the Conventual Friars
Minor and the Observants, and a general chapter of both bodies of Franciscans was convoked at Assisi
in 1430. A union was effected, but it did not last long. The following year the Observants held a
chapter at Bologna, at which John was the moving spirit. According to Gonzaga, John was about this
time appointed commissary general of the Observants, but his name does not appear among the
commissaries and vicars in Holzapfel's list (Manuale Hist. Ord. FF. Min., 624-5) before 1443.
was owing to him that St. Bernardine was appointed vicar-general in 1438. Shortly after this, whilst
visiting France he met St. Colette, the reformer of the Second Franciscan Order or Poor Clares, with
whose efforts he entirely sympathized. He was frequently employed on embassies by the Holy See. In
1439 he was sent as legate to Milan and Burgundy, to oppose the claims of the antipope Felix V; in
1446 he was on a mission to the King of France; in 1451 he went at the request of the emperor as
Apostolic nuncio to Austria.
During the period of his nunciature John visited all parts of the empire, preaching and combatting the heresy of the Hussites; he also visited Poland at the request of Casimir IV. In 1454 he was summoned to the Diet at Frankfort, to assist that assembly in its deliberation concerning a crusade against the Turks for the relief of Hungary: and here, too, he was the leading spirit. When the crusade was actually in operation John accompanied the famous Hunyady throughout the campaign: he was present at the battle of Belgrade, and led the left wing of the Christian army against the Turks. He was beatified in 1694, and canonized in 1724. He wrote many books, chiefly against the heresies of his day.
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