Saint John of Capistrano

Franciscan Priest (1386-1456)

Saint John of CapistranoJohn was born at Capistrano in the Abruzzi region of Italy in the year 1386. He studied law at Perugia, and in due course exercised the office of judge. Having entered the Order of Friars Minor, and been ordained priest, he carried on a tireless apostolate throughout the whole of Europe in order to strengthen the Christians and to debate with the heretics. He died at Ilok in Croatia in 1456. He was canonized in 1724.

A reading from the treatise of Saint John of Capistrano: A Mirror for Clergy

Part I

The life of virtuous clergy brings light and happiness

Let all those men who are called to preside at the table of our Lord be shining examples of good-and praiseworthy lives, rid of all the stains and impurities of vice. Let them be the salt of the earth, living honourable lives among men, working to improve both themselves and others. Like the light of the world let them enlighten the rest of men with the shining forth of their own good judgement. Let them learn from Jesus Christ, the highest of teachers, that he was proclaiming a message not only for his apostles and disciples but for all the priests and clergy who would be their successors, when he said: “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its taste, how shall its saltness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden underfoot by men.”

Yes, to be trodden underfoot by men as if they were the vilest dirt will indeed be the lot of the clergy if they are impure and immoral, if their lives are rotten with foul vices and entangled in the chains of their misdeeds. Then they will indeed be good for nothing, either to themselves or to others, because, as Saint Gregory remarks: “If a man’s life is despicable, his preaching will be despised.”

“Let the priests who do their work well be considered worthy of a twofold charge, especially those who labour in preaching and teaching.” Those priests who are worthy indeed carry out a twofold charge, twofold in the sense that it includes both persons and things, that it is a charge both temporal and spiritual, both transitory and eternal. For although their life on this earth, in common with that of all mortal creatures, is subject to the limitations of nature, nevertheless in their efforts and cares they are busily at work in heaven with the angels, that they may find acceptance by the King as servants who showed understanding. Therefore just as in God’s heaven the sun rises over the world, so let the light of the clergy shine before men that they may see their good works and give glory to the Father who is in heaven.

“You are the light of the world.” For just as no light shines on itself but sheds its beams on other objects around it and lights them up, so the life of good an upright clergy is a light which casts its rays with the brightness of holiness upon all who see them and brings happiness to them. And so if the clergy exist to take care of others, they should themselves be a living demonstration of how the rest of men should live in the house of the Lord.


Almighty God,
you sent Saint John of Capistrano
to comfort Christian people in a time of distress.
Keep us, we pray,
in the safety of your protection,
and give your Church lasting peace.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen.