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In Early Modern times, since the 15th century, the title has been a political one, granted by popes to men who have led military campaigns to defend Christianity. The militant Catholic hymn Athleta Christi nobilis ("Noble Champion of the Lord"), a hymn for Matins on May 18, the feast of Saint Venantius was written in the 17th century. Its author is unknown. The medieval precursors of this hymn are numerous and include hymns, responsories and antiphons dedicated to many saints and martyrs, even non-militant ones like Cosmas and Damian [dead link].
Those who have held the title include:
- Louis I of Hungary called by Pope Innocent VI.
- John Hunyadi of Hungary called by Pope Pius II.
- George Kastrioti Skanderbeg of Albania called Athleta Christi by Popes Callixtus III, Pius II, Paul II, and Nicholas V 
- Stephen the Great of Moldavia, called by Pope Sixtus IV
- New Catholic Dictionary: Athleta Christi nobilis
- La Trobe University Library: Medieval Music Database: cf incipits O athleta Christi
- La Trobe University Library: Medieval Music Database: cf incipits Athleta Christi
- The fulfilled promise: a documentary account of religious persecution in Albania By Gjon Sinishta page 6 
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