Saint of the Day: St. Joseph Cupertino, “The Flying Saint”
First of all, he wasn’t really wanted by his parents, then he was later rejected as a lay brother and sent home by the community.At age 17, Joseph applied for admittance to the Friars Minor Conventuals, but was refused due to his lack of education and limited learning ability. He later applied to the Capuchins, and was accepted as a lay-brother, but his ecstasies made him unsuitable for work, and he was returned home. He continued to pray and was finally accepted as an oblate in the Franciscan convent near Cupertino. He was rejected for the priesthood due to his poor learning skills. He had to be tutored and drilled over and over by one of his peers (who found him unteachable) in his priestly studies in an attempt to prepare for the exam to enter the priesthood. Although he could recall little of what he learned, Divine Providence made his priestly vocation a reality.
He continually disrupted those in his community with his gift of levitation – flying around during Mass and at other inappropriate times and also going into ecstasy quite unexpectedly. What was a community to do with someone like this?
Joseph was obviously very spiritually gifted, but it’s difficult to imagine someone like this in a monastery today. He would certainly be entertaining! Whenever I think of him, I chuckle, because the “intelligent” and learned people around him were confused and baffled by his strange behavior, yet he accepted with total surrender all that God has asked of him and miracles were accomplished through him. He was the one in the community who performed the menial tasks, yet he was the one who was most spiritually gifted. The smaller and more insignificant we are, it seems the closer we are to God and the more powerfully He can work through us. And, what a model of poverty, chastity, and obedience he was for both his peers and superiors.
Here is a brief biography taken From the Matins of the feast of St. Joseph of Cupertino:
Born of devout parents, as a young man Joseph of Cupertino was outstanding for his purity. In the convent of the Friars Minor at Grotella, he was first enrolled among the lay-brothers because of his lack of learning, and then, by a disposition of divine Providence, he joined the clerics and was ordained. He chastised his body with a hair-shirt, with scourging and all kinds of austerities, and nourished his spirit continually with the food of holy prayer, so that he was called by God to the highest degree of contemplation. Outstanding for obedience and poverty, he cultivated chastity above all, and preserved it unharmed, conquering great temptations. He honored the Virgin Mary with a wonderful love and shone for his great charity toward the poor. His humility was so deep that he thought himself a great sinner and earnestly prayed God to take away the remarkable gifts he had been given. He journeyed through many places at the command of the superior of the Order and of the holy Inquisition; finally, at Osimo in Picenum, in the sixty-first year of his age, he made the last journey, to heaven.
St. Joseph Cupertino is the patron saint of aviators, air travelers, and students.
“Clearly, what God wants above all is our will which we received as a free gift from God in creation and possess as though our own. When a man trains himself to acts of virtue, it is with the help of grace from God from whom all good things come that he does this. The will is what man has as his unique possession.”
Saint Joseph of Cupertino, from the reading for his feast in the Franciscan breviary