Embolded by their takeover of Constantinople in 1453 and led by Sultan Mehmed II, the Ottomans fell upon the Western Christianity.
Meanwhile in Rome, in 1455, immediately following his elevation to the Chair of Peter, a Spaniard pope, Callixtus III
, asked the Christian kings and princes to commit armies and vessels to stop the advance of Islam in Europe.
The Pope himself solemnly committed to ”pursue the Turks, the most cruel foes of the Christian name, to conquer again Constantinople (...) for the release of Christians who lie in slavery.” Even with the sacrifice of his own life, he said.
War-torned by disputes, the European kingdoms were slow to answer Pope’s call. Some of them actually betrayed him. Nevertheless, John Hunyadi
, former Governor of the Hungarian kingdom and military commander, and the Franciscan friar Saint John of Capistrano
, who was already preaching the Crusade, amassed an army up to 60,000 soldiers.
The Noon Bell
Seeing his calls falling on princiary deaf ears, on June 29, 1456 Pope Callixtus III issued a Papal Bull - Bulla Turcorum. He ordered that every single church in Christendom rung daily, between noon and vespers, three pals of bells. A call to remember the ordinary Christians of their duty to pray three Our Father and three Hail Mary for those who were unremittingly fighting the Turks.
The showdown took place in Belgrade. A large Ottoman army sieged Belgrade from 4th to 22nd of July 1456. On July 22, barely one month after Callixts’ Bulla Turcorum, John Hunyadi won a stunning victory against Mehmed II, renowned as ”the Conqueror”. It stopped for almost seven decades the impetuous march of Islam towards Rome, the heart of Western Christianity.
The Feast of Transfiguration
Right after his victory over the Ottoman army, John Hunyadi sent to the Pope a letter. The news arrived in Rome on 6th of August. Pope Callixtus III imposed on the very same day, August 6, the Feast of Transfiguration within the whole Church. It was a thanksgiving to God for John Hunyadi’s triumph.
Few days later, on August 11, 1456, john Hunyadi's funeral stone in Alba IuliaJohn Hunyadi died of plague
. He was buried in Alba Iulia’s Catholic cathedral.
Saint John of Capistrano was laid to rest in Ilok, CroatiaSaint John of Capistrano
, the other hero of Belgrade battle against the Ottomans, died the same year, on October 23, 1456.
Pope Callixtus III died two years later on the very Feast of Transfiguration
, on August 6, 1458.