SAINTS

SEPT. 18: ST. JOSEPH OF CUPERTINO

(1603-1767)          
Today’s saint proves that a saint doesn’t have to be blessed with incredible intelligence in order to be in the state of grace.
St. Joseph was born in 1603 at Cupertino, in the diocese of Nardo in the Kingdom of Naples. His mother often considered him a nuisance and treated him harshly.
Joseph was purported to be slow to learn and absent-minded. He was said to frequently wander aimlessly, with his mouth gaping open. And, he had a bad temper, so, he was not at all popular.
He tried to learn the trade of shoemaking but failed. He asked to become a Franciscan, but they initially would not accept him. Finally, he did join the Capuchins for a very short period of time. Eight months after joining, they sent him away because he could not seem to do anything right.
His mother was not at all pleased to have the 18-year-old Joseph back home again, so she finally got him accepted as a servant at the Franciscan monastery. He was given the friars habit and put to hard work taking care of the horses.
About this time, Joseph began to change. He grew in humility and gentleness, fruits of the Holy Spirit at work in a person. He became more careful and successful at his work. He also began to pray more and do more voluntary acts of penance.
Finally, he was able to enter the Franciscan order and, eventually, study for the priesthood. Although he was a good and holy friar, he had a very hard time with studies. During his seminary exams, the examiner happened to ask him to explain the only thing he knew well, and so he was ordained a deacon, and later a priest.
After this, the Holy Spirit began to work many amazing miracles through St. Joseph. More than 70 times, people say they saw him rise from the ground while offering Mass or praying.
Often, he went into ecstasy and would be caught up in talking with God. He fell so deeply in love with God that everything he saw only drew him into a deeper union. The mere mention of God or a spiritual matter was enough to take him out of his senses; at Mass he is said to have frequently floated in the air in rapture.
Once, as Christmas carols were being sung, he soared to the high altar and knelt in the air, in ecstatic prayer. The people flocked to him in droves seeking help and advice in the confessional, and he assisted many in living a truly devout Christian life.
St. Joseph became so famous for the miracles that he finally was kept hidden from the public, but he was happy for the chance to be alone with his beloved Lord. The life of this saint was marked by ecstasies and levitations.
This humble man, however, had to endure many severe trials and terrible temptations throughout his life. He said that all the troubles of this world were nothing but the “play” battles children have with popguns.
On his part, Jesus never left him alone and one day came to bring him to Heaven on Sept. 18, 1663. Pope Clement XIII canonized him in 1767. He is the patron saint of air travelers, pilots and learning disabled.
Adapted by A.J. Valentini