St. Joseph of Cupertino
Today is not the feast of St. Joseph of Cupertino, but we're writing about him anyways. Why? Because we have a deal. As you might know if you have an interest in such things, the LSAT is Monday. St. Joseph is the patron of test takers, and all the prayers for such things that I found involve a quid pro quo: St. Joseph helps you on your exam, you "promise to make [him] known and cause [him] to be invoked." So, I'm telling all y'all about good ol' St. Joseph of Cupertino.
Joseph was born on June 17th, 1603 to the family of a poor carpenter. His father died before the boy's birth, and the large debts he left forced St. Joseph's mother out of their house -- she gave birth in a stable. Sickness afflicted his childhood, and he was despised by friends and family alike for his inability to accomplish the simplest tasks or comprehend the most basic commands. Starting when he was eight, he had a series of ecstatic visions, during which he would stare blankly. This caused even more calumny to fall upon him, and he was mocked as "Bocca Aperta," or "gaping fool."
At the age of 17 he applied to the Franciscans, who refused him on account of his ignorance. He gained admittance to the Capuchins as a lay brother, but his ineptitude made him unfit and unbearable. Finding him incapable of undertaking any task without disaster, the order took his habit and expelled him. Returning home, his family abused him as a good-for-nothing. Refusing to lose hope, St. Joseph applied to the Franciscan monastery near Cupertino, whose superior, impressed by the boy's piety, took him on as a stable hand.
St. Joseph's good cheer, humility, and willingness to serve further impressed the superior, who decided to admit him to the order in the hope that he might be ordained. This, however, seemed hopeless, as St. Joseph could not manage to learn enough to comment on any passage of scripture save one: the cry of the woman to Our Lord, "Beatus venter qui Te portavit" ("Blessed be the womb that bore Thee"). When the Bishop came to give the examination for the diaconate, he opened the Bible at chance, and his eyes fell upon this very verse -- St. Joseph expounded upon it well, and passed. The next year, when the time came for the priestly ordination examinations, all the candidates were well-prepared, except St. Joseph. The Bishop called upon several in turn, and these gave exceptional responses. Inferring that they had been excellently prepared and were all of this caliber, he passed all of the candidates without asking the rest, including St. Joseph, any question.
St. Joseph's priestly ministry was disturbed, however, by ecstasies and visions, which multiplied at this time of his life. Anything that related to God or holy things might prompt such an ecstasy, in which the saint often floated; during one vision St. Joseph flew into a tree and remained kneeling on a limb for half an hour. All manner of efforts to draw him out of this state failed -- blows, pinching, even burning with candles had no effect on him. Only the voice of his superior would return him to full consciousness.
As word of his levitations and ecstasies -- as well as of his personal holiness -- spread, crowds came to the monastery to see him, causing disruptions. Thus, St. Joseph was for over thirty years prohibited to say Mass in public, walk in procession, or go to choir. Instead, he was bundled from one house to another, and was even brought, by "evil-minded and envious men," before the Inquisition. He spent the last six years of his life at Osimo, where he died at the age of 60 on September 18th, 1663.
He is the patron of air plane pilots, air crews, astronauts, paratroopers, and test-takers. His feast day is September 18th.
A reflection on his life
New Advent on St. Joseph of Cupertino
File Under: Saints