The ancient Muslim Turks have given ample opportunity for God to remind His people of the power of prayer and devotion. Several times throughout history, the Turks threatened Christendom and the Catholic Faith with vast armies and intimidating weaponry only to be soundly defeated—allowing for the spread of the Faith and the preservation of Catholic cities.
Let’s look back at the year 1456. One of the Christendom’s core cities, Constantinople, had fallen to the Muslim army. Now, Mohammed II and over 100,000 warriors were moving on Western Europe.
Pope Callistus III turned to John of Capistrano, a zealous (some said fanatical) Franciscan priest who traveled all over Europe preaching the Gospel, reforming laxity wherever he found it.
John was the son of a German knight but had been born in Italy. At age twenty-six, he was made governor of an Italian province. In a short time, however, he and his neighbors were at war, and he ended up in prison. Upon his release, he rejected his previous life and became a Franciscan friar. After his ordination to the priesthood he embarked on a flaming preaching mission.
Now he was seventy years old, and as fiery as ever.
This was the man Pope Callistus III turned to, beseeching him to preach and lead a crusade against the Turkish onslaught.
John recruited an army of 70,000 crusaders. Christians and Muslims confronted each other at Belgrade, outside Hungary. He did not fight himself, but there he was in his Franciscan habit, standing atop a hill and waving a flag, crying “Jesus! Jesus!”
Just as they had at Lepanto and Vienna, the Turks were fleeing before the day ended.
Since then, John has been dubbed the “Soldier Saint.” He is often depicted in his Franciscan robes and tonsure, with a breastplate and banner.
Of course, he is not the only heavenly warrior out there. St. Michael the Archangel is the first and greatest of God’s warriors. Cultivate devotion to him—and find your inner warrior—with a beautiful St. Michael prayer card. This laminated image and St. Michael Prayer is accompanied with a matching medal and chain. Get yours today at The Catholic Company!