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Wednesday 28 July |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Stanley Rother
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Saint Joseph of Cupertino

The Levitating Friar Honored as Patron Saint of Pilots


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Conventual Franciscan Friar and Mystic (1603-1663)

His life

+ Joseph Maria Desa was born in Cupertino, Italy. His father died before Joseph was born and because of his mother’s dire poverty, Joseph was born in a stable.

+ In his childhood, Joseph began to experience visions and these continued throughout his life. Accounts of his life relate that he was often mocked because of these times of ecstasy and he was also known to have a volatile temper.

+ An apprentice shoemaker, Joseph applied to enter the Conventual Franciscans in 1620 but he was refused because of his lack of education.

+ Joseph succeeded in convincing the Conventual Franciscans to allow him to care for their stables. He impressed the friars by his devotion and simplicity and he was admitted to the community in 1625. Ordained a priest in 1628, he spent 15 years serving at a shrine.

+ During these years Joseph’s mystical experiences increased and several sources testify that he would levitate during the celebration of the Mass and the Divine Office. Because of the disruption he caused (and because of the crowds who came to see him), he was eventually confined to a small cell and forbidden to take part in public gatherings.

+ Joseph was eventually investigated by the Inquisition and sent to live in various friaries. He spent the next 35 years of his life in penance and prayer. From 1653-1657 he lived with the Capuchin Franciscans as the investigation continued.

+ In 1657, Joseph returned to the Conventual Franciscans in Osima and he died there on September 18, 1663. He was canonized in 1767 and is honored as the patron saint of pilots.

For prayer and reflection

They that hope in the Lord will renews their strength, / they will soar on eagles’ wings;

They will run and now grow weary, / walk and not grow faint.”—Isaiah 40:31

Spiritual bonus

On this day, the Church honors the memory of Saint Ariadne. An enslaved woman in Phrygia (a region in modern-day Turkey), she refused to take part in pagan celebrations celebrating hew “owner’s” birthday. She refused to take part, feeling from the household. According to legend, a large rock opened up allowing her to escape; she was never seen again. Although the details of her death are unknown, she has been honored as a martyr since the second century.


God our Father, your wisdom disposed that your only-begotten Son, when lifted above the earth, should draw all things to himself. May the merits and example of Saint Joseph help us to rise above earthly desires and become perfectly conformable to your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(from The Franciscan Supplement: The Liturgy of the Hours)

Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.

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