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Saint Joseph of Cupertino

Clearly, what God wants above all is our will which we received as a free gift from God in creation and possess as though our own. When a man trains himself to acts of virtue, it is with the help of grace from God from whom all good things come that he does this. The will is what man has as his unique possession.

Born in June 17th, 1603, Saint Joseph was born in the village of Cupertino then in the Kingdom of Naples. His father died before he was born, leaving his mother burdened with debt that forced her to sell their home and give birth in a stable. He was poorly treated as his mother reportedly considered him a burden and nuisance due to his slow learning and absent-mindedness. He was frequently mocked when he reported having ecstatic visions often and so a quick temper soon arose in him.

He apprenticed under his uncle a shoemaker, but was dismissed soon for being unable to pick up the trade quick enough. At 17, in 1620 he tried joining the Conventual Franciscan friars but was turned away due to his lack of education but was accepted by the Capuchin friars in Martino as a lay brother. He continued experiencing ecstasies during this time that prevented him from carrying out day to day tasks and after only 8 months was sent away by the friars. The friars wrote that in the middle of a task, he would suddenly stop and enter a trance like state.

After being dismissed, he returned home to find an angry mother, upset that she was once again burdened with him. He would continue begging to join the friars near Cupertino and was eventually allowed to care after the stable animals. Here he completely focused on his tasks and was much more successful in the jobs asked of him. He would spend hours in prayer and voluntary acts of penance. The friars were so impressed with his dedication to the task, simple life, and love of God that he was allowed to join in 1625 and was ordained a priest on March 28th 1628. He was assigned to the Madonna delle Grazie, Gravina in Puglia.

It was here his occasions of ecstasy began happening much more often. Over 70 sworn accounts testify that he would levitate on occasion while offering Mass or in prayer. During his trances, other members of the church would pierce him with needles, burn him with candles and drag his body all without having any effect. Saint Joseph would tell others that he could hear music from heaven when falling into these visions. He famously ate only solid food twice a week and added bitters to his food. It is reported that he levitated in Rome in the presence of Pope Urban VIII and once took a priest by the hand and levitated them both in the air.

As the crowds visited to see such a holy man, the church superiors confined him to a small cell to no longer be disruptive. He welcomed the opportunity to spend more time alone with God. Eventually though, he was reported to the Inquisition and accused of witchcraft. While the inquisition found him not guilty of witchcraft, he was moved between friaries (Assisi, to Pietrarubbia and finally Fossombrone). In July of 1657, he returned to the Conventual community in Osimo where he died in 1663.

Pope Benedict XIV beatified him in 1753 and he was officially Canonized in July of 1767 by Pope Clement XIII. His remains are held at the Basilica of Saint Joseph of Cupertino in a glass coffin held aloft by two angel statues.

Father Longenecker ( writes that three lessons can be learned from him:

  1. The physical world we see is more unpredictable that can we can imagine

  2. Much as Saint Joseph didn't we should not take ourselves too seriously and remain humble

  3. God uses even what we consider fools for the greatest of tasks. The world thought Saint Joseph a fool and a failure and yet was more holy that most around him.

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