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Spotlight on the Saints
St. Joseph of Cupertino

St. Joseph was born in Naples on June 17, 1603. Because his father died shortly before his birth, leaving his family destitute and in debt, his mother was forced to give birth to him in a stable. As he grew, his mother was very strict and treated him badly. In addition, he was considered by all to be absent-minded and slow.

As a young man, Joseph tried to find work as a shoemaker, but failed. Later, he tried to become a Franciscan, but the Order refused to accept him. Finally in 1620, he joined the Capuchins, but they rejected him after eight months because they felt he was too incompetent. Joseph was now 18 and living at home again. At his mother’s urging, the Franciscans were convinced to take the youth on as a common servant at their monastery of La Grotella near Cupertino.

Joseph worked very hard and gradually changes took place in him. He became humble, obedient, penitent and a true example of Christian piety. After some time, the Franciscans decided the young man could study to become a member of the Order. After several years of hard work and study, Joseph was finally ordained as a priest in the Franciscan order in 1628.

Though poorly educated, the future saint appeared from the first to have almost supernatural knowledge and, as a priest, God saw fit to work many miracles through him. Reliable witnesses have told of how he actually levitated from the ground while saying Mass or praying. He was often raised to the high altar in a church and would kneel suspended in the air. When he was in one of these states, nothing seemed to have any effect on him and such incidents could happen anywhere or at any time. Other witnesses have told of how Father Joseph immediately fell into an ecstatic state at even a casual reference to God, the Blessed Virgin, a saint, or the sound of a church bell.

Although there was much public admiration for Joseph, the heads of his community became increasingly disturbed by the stories about his experiences. In consequence, he was exiled for 35 years to his room, where a private chapel was prepared for him. Despite this terrible and unjust punishment, he remained both steadfast in his faith and of good cheer, praying and fasting and continuously promoting devotion to Our Lord and Our Lady to any and all visitors. He died September 18, 1663, which is his feast day, and was beatified by Pope Benedict XIV in 1753 and canonized in 1767 by Pope Clement XIII.