Sunday, September 17, 2006
18 September; St. Joseph of Cupertino
Today is the feast day of one of my favorite saints, Joseph of Cupertino, Franciscan priest and mystic.
When I lived in Assisi I was permitted to make an 8 day retreat in the solitude of his newly renovated apartments at the Sacred Convent. It was in these apartments that St. Joseph had been 'imprisoned' because of the extraordinary mystical phenomena that surrounded him. He was kept in solitude to keep him away from the curious who flocked to him because of the gift of levitation, for which he is best known. I had a friar who acted as my 'Martha" in the solitude of my retreat, bringing me food and drink and celebrating Mass for me in the saint's oratory. It was a memorable experience for my life. Immediately afterwards, on the feast of the Stigmata, I was professed in the third order of St. Francis at the tomb of our Holy Father in the crypt of the Basilica.
Presented is a brief biography of St. Joseph:
"St. Joseph of Cupertino in prayer, he was called "the Flying Friar" because of his frequent levitations St. Joseph of Cupertino (1603-1668) was an Italian mystic whose life is a wonderful combination of a complete lack of natural capacity and an extraordinary supernatural efficiency.
He lacked every natural gift. He was incapable of passing a test, maintaining a conversation, taking care of a house, or even touching a dish without breaking it. He was called Brother Ass by his companions in the monastery.
He was born on June 17, 1603 into a family of poor artisans. Because of his father?s debts, he was born in a shed behind the house, which was in the hands of bailiffs. He was sickly and often at death?s door during his childhood, and at age seven he developed a gangrenous ulcer which was later cured by a religious man. He was always despised by his companions who called him a fool. Even his mother wearied of him and repudiated him for his lack of any human value. Later, when he entered the religious life, he faced worse difficulties. The Capuchins received him as a lay brother but his ineptitude and abstraction made him unbearable for the other religious. Often he was taken in ecstasy and, oblivious of what he was doing, he would drop the food or break the dishes and trays. As a penance, bits of broken plates were fastened to his habit as a humiliation and reminder not to do the same again. But he could not change. He could not even be trusted with serving the bread because he would forget the difference between the white and brown breads. Finally, considering that he was good for nothing, the religious took his habit and expelled him from the monastery.
Later, he declared that having the habit taken from him was the greatest suffering of his life and that it was as if his skin had been torn from his body. When he left the monastery he had lost part of his lay clothes. He was without a hat, boots, or stockings, and his coat was moth-eaten and worn. He presented such a sorry sight that when he passed a stable down the lane, dogs rushed out on him and tore his apparel to worse tatters. He escaped and continued along the road, but soon came upon some shepherds, who thought he was a miscreant and were about to give him a beating, when one of their number had pity on him and persuaded them to let him go free." [snip] Read the conclusion here.
St. Joseph of Cupertino pray for me for the grace of conversion; and pray for us now and at the hour of our death. Amen.