Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Saint of the day

September 18th - Saint Joseph of Cupertino, Confessor, Mystic


THE life of Joseph of Cupertino is surely one of the most extraordinary and
baffling among the accounts of holy men and women. For one thing, Joseph
could fly!

Joseph Desa was born June 17, 1603, at Cupertino, a village in the heel of
Italy. He was an unhappy child. His mother, poor and widowed, considered him
a nuisance. Running sores afflicted him. Extremely absent-minded, Joseph
sometimes even forgot his meals. Because he wandered around aimlessly, the
village people called him "the Gaper." He applied himself with no success
when apprenticed to a shoemaker. Only the things of God caught his

When Joseph was seventeen he tried to enter the Franciscans, but they
refused to accept him because of his ignorance. After eight months spent
with the Capuchins he was dismissed; he was too absent-minded and clumsy to
perform the duties assigned him. Joseph's mother was unhappy because of his
return to Cupertino, so she prevailed upon her brother, a Franciscan, to
accept him into that order as a servant. He was put to work in the stables.

A change seemed to come over Joseph. His duties were performed more
successfully. An attitude of cheerfulness pervaded even the most menial
tasks. He prayed continually and practiced rigid austerities, sleeping only
three hours each night. Seeing all this piety and austerity, the community
agreed to admit him as a candidate for the priesthood.

Joseph's novitiate was marked by constant prayer and contemplation. He was
ever patient and humble, but his virtues were not matched by his progress as
a student-learning was hard for him. But Joseph was fortunate. Not eloquent,
the only biblical text he could expound was, "Blessed is the womb that bore
thee." When the examination for the promotion to deacon came, the bishop
opened the Gospels at random and asked Joseph to explain that very text,
which he did with brilliancy. He was similarly fortunate when he was to be
examined for the priesthood. The first members of the class were so learned
that the rest, Joseph included, were passed without examination.

Ordained in 1628, Joseph continued his humble and penitential life. He gave
up everything the Rule permitted him to and, during Lent, took no food
except on Thursdays and Sundays. He performed his simple tasks with
diligence, knowing that they were all he was capable of.

Joseph's life of miracles began from the time of his ordination. No other
saint is credited with so many supernatural happenings. He had a more
marvelous command over animals than Saint Francis. Anything referring to God
would transform him into ecstasy. Sometimes, especially during Mass, he
would be lifted off his feet for a long time. Over seventy instances are
recorded of this levitation. One Christmas Eve he rose in the air with a
cry, flew to the high altar of the church, and knelt there praying for
fifteen minutes. When the friars, building a replica of Calvary, were
unable to lift a thirty-six-foot cross, Joseph flew seventy yards, lifting
and placing the cross. When he was in ecstasy, not even burning his flesh or
pricking it with needles had any effect on him. Only the voice of his
superior could bring Joseph back to the sense world.

His life was filled with so many supernatural phenomena that he was not
allowed to say Mass in public, eat with the other members of the community,
or attend public functions.

When Saint Joseph attracted crowds, he was taken to Naples to be examined,
then to Rome, where he saw Pope Urban VIII. He was then assigned to the
Franciscan monastery at Assisi. Yet he was not entirely secluded and a
number of eminent persons visited him. Among them was a German duke, whom
Joseph led to the Catholic faith. But his habitation soon became too well
known and he was again removed by order of the Holy Office, this time to a
Capuchin monastery in a more solitary place. After several years he was
permitted to rejoin his Franciscan brothers, at Osimo, a little town in the
March of Ancona, a province on the Adriatic Sea.

Joseph fell sick in August 1663. On the Feast of the Assumption he said his
last Mass, during which his last levitation occurred. He died on September
18, 1663.

1 comment:

gemoftheocean said...

Thanks for posting this one. I was ticked off when they had removed him from the calendar, as his feast day fell on my birthday. It's nice to know he's patron saint of aviators though. Someone has a good sense of humor in the Vatican.