St. Joseph of Cupertino (1603-1663)
Known as the Reluctant Saint or Flying Saint, Joseph was in inspiration to many . . .
Feast Day: September 18
Patron of aviation, astronauts, students
The saint’s father was a poor carpenter who died before Joseph was born. His mother was forced out of their home by creditors and gave birth to her son in a stable behind their house. From the age of eight, he had mystical visions of Jesus, Mary and the saints which would leave him in a trance, wandering around open-mouthed. Classmates ridiculed Joseph by nicknaming him boccaperta, Italian for “the gaper.” Joseph had a hot temper and would lash out in retaliation.
By the age of 17, he was an apprenticed shoemaker, yet desired to live a life of service to God.
After being rejected by two friaries due to a lack of education, Joseph was eventually accepted as an oblate at the Conventual Franciscan friary near Cupertino. Barely able to read or write at 25 years old, he was ordained to the priesthood due in large part to his virtue and spiritual insight.
His visions and ecstasies continued throughout his priesthood. During Mass, he would often levitate and hear heavenly music. His mystical experiences caused him much suffering, since he was unable to celebrate Mass in church or sing with his brothers in choir for over 35 years, living in near total seclusion.
Joseph’s most famous levitation reportedly occurred during a papal audience before Pope Urban VIII. When he bent down to kiss the Pope’s feet, he was filled with reverence and began to float. Only when the minister general of his order commanded him to come down was Joseph able to return to the floor.
Pope Clement XIII canonized him in 1767. Actor Maximilian Schell starred as Joseph in the 1962 movie The Reluctant Saint, now out on DVD. Joseph is the patron saint of aviators, astronauts, the mentally handicapped, test takers and students.
This column is produced for Legatus by the Dead Theologians Society, a Catholic apostolate for high school age teens and college age young adults. On the web: deadtheologianssociety.com