Today's Saint

St. Joseph of Cupertino

Let no one say the Catholic Church hasn’t a sense of humor, particularly in the manner she chooses to reward saints. We only need to look to the example of St. Joseph Cupertino for our proof.

St. Joseph lived in the 17th century and was a faithful and passionate young boy, yet he was lacking in strong intelligence and common sense. His pious qualities went unnoticed by his family and the people who lived in Cupertino, because he appeared to be an incompetent and forgetful fool. His mother was so embarrassed by his failures that she sent him away to be a servant for the Franciscans in Grotella, Italy, when he was just seventeen years old.

It was here that Joseph expressed his desire to become a priest. But he was not a good student and failed miserably in his studies. As Providence would have it, the one question asked of him at his oral test for the transitional diaconate was the one answer that he knew. And then again at his review for the candidacy to the priesthood, he was blessed by following on the heels of some very smart seminarians. They answered their questions so well that the bishop just passed the others, including Joseph, without further questions.

Joseph is considered one of the great mystics, perhaps even greater than St. Francis. Following his ordination, he was gifted with the charism of levitation at the mere glimpse of a statue of Our Lady or the mere mention of the name of the Lord. He would fall into a rapture of weightlessness and hover several feet above the ground in silent prayer. Sometimes he was seen flying around the church from balcony to balcony or from statue to statue.

For over thirty years, he was kept in seclusion at the request of Church officials, who found his “flights” embarrassing. Pope Benedict XIV disagreed and determined that his levitations and other mystical gifts met the criteria for sanctity. He was canonized in 1767 and in all seriousness (with a little laugh!) is the Patron of Students and Aviators.