The Miracles of St. John Capistran

By Stanko Andrić | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
The beginnings of the canonization
campaign, 1456–63

Innumerabilia sunt, omnisque generis prodigia,
quibus recensendis magnum volumen, el in ordinem
redigendis longissimum tempusforet necessarium
.

(Wadding 1931–34. 12:478)

“Curiosamente. e R. Manselli non mancava di
accorgersene, I'attività miracolistica di S. Giovanni
non ha ancora trovato il suo storico.”

(Pásztor 1989. xxxiii)

The earliest preserved letter of an ecclesiastical dignitary containing news of Capistran's death was that of the papal legate to Hungary, cardinal Juan de Carvajal, dated in Futog, 27 October 1456 (Mircse 1870, 9–10 = Pettkó 1901, 218–19). Written to accompany Capistran's fellow friars on their return to Italy, it announced the death of the holy man as an event “which was quite hard for us, especially at the present time” (que nobis satis gravis fuit, presertim tempore isto). The next related document is an extensive letter dated in Vienna, 1 January 1457, composed by the “fellows and associates of the late friar John Capistran” (socii et collaboratores olimfratris loannis de Capistrano), obviously those same Franciscans who had with them Carvajal's letter (see BHL NS, 485, no. 4365a; Wadding 1931–34, 12: 466–68). Its addressee was Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini (1405–64), by that time bishop of Siena and recently created cardinal. It was evidently to please this man of classical erudition and a poet besides (indeed, “crowned” as imperial poet by Frederick 111 in 1442) that the authors of the letter quoted Virgil's Georgics in the context of Capistran's last days and death.1 Capistran's sufferings are exhaustively and precisely enumerated (continua febris, insanabilis jhixus, moroydarum gravedo, lapilli et arenarum passio, gravis iliorum dolor, femorumque fractura), which points to its being written by an expert in medical matters, most probably Jerome of Udine. On the other hand, the following lines containing a description of the battle of Belgrade and of the miraculous preservation of Capistran's life in the middle of turmoil, cannon fire, and flying arrows:

-83-

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