St. John of Capistrano

Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna (St. Anthony Chapel)

This is typical of one of the two types of images of St. John of Capistrano, where he stands as if victorious holding a cross in one hand and a cross-topped banner in the other. Images of this type will often show a fallen soldier at the saint's feet. The device on the banner is most often a large red cross or a form of the ihs sunburst seen in images of St. Bernardino, who was his theology instructor. In the Church of St. Bernardino in Kraków the banner bears a white eagle on a red field, the coat of arms of Poland.

This first type of iconography refers to the saint's help in breaking the siege of Belgrade by the Turks in 1456. He recruited an army of Hungarian volunteers to follow the great general John Hunyadi to the city, where he urged them on to victory. Unfortunately, the battle was followed by an epidemic that took the lives of both the saint and the general (Butler, I, 695).

The other type of image has the saint preaching to a crowd while holding out to them a monstrance, the sunburst device, or some such symbol of Jesus. This second type of iconography is based on St. John's enormous popularity as a preacher. In Italy vast crowds would flock to hear his sermons, and towns would vie with each other in inviting him (Ibid., 693-94).

In both types of image the saint will be wearing the typical gray or brown Franciscan habit with the triple-knotted rope cincture.

St. John of Capistrano died on October 23, but his feast is currently celebrated on March 28.

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Photographed at the chapel by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.