Tuesday, October 23, 2012

John of Capistrano-An excerpt from the Bad Catholic's Guide to Good Living

The following excerpt comes from a book by John Zmirak and Denise Matychowiak titled "The Bad Catholic's Guide to Good Living." Today is the feast of St. John of Capistrano. He is the patron of military chaplains. This is the excerpt from their book. They dub him the patron of Homeland Security: "No, he didn't breed swallows or found a mission in California. The exquisite church that bears his name was given it by his fellow Franciscan Fr Junipero Serra, who founded this mission in 1776 among twenty others that dot the state. San Juan de Capistrano is the oldest building still in use in the state of California. St. John was no swallow, but a tougher bird entirely-more like an imperial eagle. Born in Italy to a family of warriors, he ruled the city of Perugia on behalf of the king of Naples. Captured in a war he was trying to mediate, he discovered a call to religious life and got permission (from his wife as well as the church) to annul his marriage and join St. Francis's order as a priest. He walked up and down the length of Italy, preaching and attracting crowds-one as large as 126,000. We've been to TAFKAP concerts smaller than that. John's preaching made him famous and got him appointed papal nuncio (ambassador) to Austria, where he led a movement against the popular proto-Protestant heresy of Jan Hus. When Turkish forces invaded Serbia (are you seeing a pattern here?), the pope appointed John to preach and lead a crusade to turn them back. At age seventy, he personally led seventy thousand men into battle, defeating the Ottomans outside Belgrade in 1456. He is customarily pictured stomping on a turban-an image that now appears in the official seal of the Department of Homeland Security." I guess his story gives new meaning to the expression "onward Christian soldiers."

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