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The Miracles of St. John of Capistran

Stanko Andric, Croatian Historical Institute

"In 1462 Matthias Corvinus wrote to Pius II about a problem in the Hungarian kingdom surrounding the late Observan Franciscan preacher John Capistran (1386-1456). Corvinus noted the friar was being venerated as a saint. Something was amiss. Either common people were damned in ignorance or Capistran was being denied due honor. Pius did nothing, then promptly died. A decade passed. Elizabeth Szilagyi, widow of John Hunyadi, again addressed the pontiff, this time Sixtus IV, with an urgent message that Capistran continued posthumously to "preach with his miracles" and should be canonized. ... Capistran had been a healer, raiser of the dead, controller of weather, visionary, prophet, exorcist, veterinarian, crusader, and general thaumaturge. ... A movement for canonization began upon his death; yet his postmortem miracles surpass even those in vita. In the fifteenth century, as many as 500 miracle stories may have been catalogued, but not everyone was impressed. ... Capistran became a saint, however, despite these objections, although the process did not culminate until 1690. ...
Stanko Andric seeks to nuance our understanding of this subject through his careful study of John Capistran based upon the manuscripts of Capistranean miracles in Rome, Paris, Venice, and Naples. The book reveals enormous erudition supported by extensive and intimate manuscript knowledge. Andric endeavours to solve the philological riddle of the Capistranean miracle collections, widely known to comprise one of the more complex medieval hagiographies. The results are impressive." - Slavic Review

"Andric bring to his topic not simply a detailed knowledge of the local setting but also a keen command of the medievalist's fundamental tools... His reconstruction of the dates and circumstances of composition of these core sources is entirely convincing, and no future scholar writing about St. John Capistran will be able to (or want to) ignore Andric's work... it is a fundamental study (one is tempted to say the fundamental study) of Capistran's cult in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries..." - Speculum

" important contribution to Hungarian social history, but also of value for the detailed analysis of the texts, many of which are published for the first time in an appendix."
- Medium Aevum

"Andric's chief merit is in establishing the authorship and circumstances of composition of each collection through an exhaustive analysis of the manuscripts and an examination of their textual relationship. With great erudition, he takes the readers through his reasoning step by step, giving detailed proofs both in the text and in ample appendixes."
- The American Historical Review

"Enorme è il valore storico del volume, sia dal punto di vista religioso che da quello riguardante il culto di san Giovanni da Capestrano e in modo particolare delle suppliche a lui rivolte e della ricerca dei suoi miracoli, richiesti da ogni categoria di persone e da tutte le classi sociali... Le numerose osservazioni di carattere storico, geografico, economico e sociale consentono finalmente di far convergere lo sguardo del lettore nella grande politica religiosa legata alla canonizzazione dei santi, ma anche nella storia della vita quotidiana di una determinata popolazione, soprattutto sulle sue difficoltà, necessità vitali, malattie, speranze, sogni, angosce esistenziali e ansietà specifiche." - Collectanea Franciscana

"Das Buch reiht sich ein in die in den 1970er Jahren einsetzenden interessanten Bestrebungen, Wunderberichte als historische Dokumente mit nicht nur teologischem, sondern auch kulturellem und soziologischem Gehalt zu nehmen, was durchaus zu begrüßen ist. Das Buch ist somit auch für die spätmittelalterliche Ordensgesichte wichtig, zugleich für die Geschichte der Päpste und ker Kreuzzüge und natürlich auch für die Geschichte des Balkans im MA." - Mediaevistik

"... une étude solide, fondée sur un rigoureux inventaire de sources jusqu'a présent peu connues." - Analecta Bollandiana

"Si la première moitié du livre vaut par son érudition, la seconde propose d'intéressantes pistes de réflexion sur la conception de la sainteté et du miracle dans la société de la fin du Moyen Âge... Dans leur effort de systématisation et de clarification, le chapitre 7, et le chapitre 8, qui analyse les prolongements historiques de cette classification, et la conclusion qui, courageusement, refuse d'éluder la question de la définition du miracle, représentent une avancée par rapport à ce qu'on pouvait lire jusqu'à présent sur le sujet." - Le Moyen Âge

Religious history and, in particular, the history of the cult of saints and their miracles has recently become one of the most popular fields of historical investigation. Together with continuing interest in the related ecclesiastic motivations and the well organized craft of hagiography, this new interest might be explained by the marvellously rich details of thousands of witness accounts testifying to the miraculous help they received from the saint in times of desparate need. These accounts provide an unparalleled insight into the history of everyday life and into the various hardships, illnesses, hopes dreams and anxieties during the late medieval and early modern period.

Only two records exist on the history of the medieval Hungarian kingdom- the thirteenth century canonization trial of St. Margaret of Hungary and the miracle collections promoting the canonization of St. John of Capistran, the victorious Crusader at Belgrade in 1456, who died thereafter in Ilok (a city located on the periphery of western Christianity in Croatia). Based on a careful study of the widely scattered manuscripts on Capistranean miracles and with the help of a microscopic philological analysis, the author has managed to reconstruct, for the first time, one of the most complex miracle collections in the history of medieval hagiography.

Covering the recording of the first miracle series by the urban notaries of Ilok, the local hagiographer of Ilok Franciscans (John Geszti), the vicar general of the Hungarian province (Stephen Varsányi), and a number of subsequent editions and amplifications of this material recycling into the canonization campaign of St. John of Capistran and the miracles he himself recorded, The Miracles of St. John of Capistran, is an outstanding debut by a representative of a new generation of Central European medievalists.


Introduction. Chapter 1: The road to Ilok Chapter 2: A portrait of the town Chapter 3: The death and the corpse Chapter 4: The beginnings of the canonization campaign, 1456-1463 Chapter 5: The canonization campaign from the early 1460s to 1526 Chapter 6: A morphology of Capistranean miracles Chapter 7: Some historical aspects of the miracles post-mortem Conclusion. Appendices. Bibliography 1st

476 pages, 8 maps, 4 charts
ISBN 978-963-9116-68-9 cloth $55.00 / €47.95 / £40.00