Cardinal Mindszenty blessed this plaque at San Juan Capistrano Mission, CA during his visit to the US in 1974
Like a rainbow, the name of John Capistrano arches over Hungarian history – a symbol of hope and freedom. This Italian Franciscan, whose California Mission welcomes back swallows in the spring, brought the welcome spring of liberation to Hungary twice in 500 years. In 1456, joining the forces of Hunyadi János, he helped, with religious fervor and leadership, to beat back the overwhelming forces of Turkish invasion and preserve the country’s liberty. In 1956, Capistrano once again stepped into the breach, this time only in spirit, as the Hungarian Revolution for freedom broke out on the precise 500th anniversary of his death.
This too was a struggle of David vs. Goliath, of desperate people with primitive weapons fighting for their homeland, fighting back a well-equipped, superior military juggernaut. In contrast to the very active role played by John Capistrano in 1456, the rapid-fire speed of events in 1956 restricted Cardinal Mindszenty József, head of the Catholic Church in Hungary and released from Communist prison by Freedom Fighters, to a muted spiritual leadership within the confines of the American embassy where he had taken refuge.
Unlike 1456, the freedom achieved in 1956 was short-lived, yet its spiritual victory is emblazoned across the sky like a rainbow for all to see.