December 20, 2013

Friar Joseph

Once, Friar Joseph was travelling with another priest when they entered a village church. The priest commented that there was no burning lamp at the altar and questioned whether a consecrated Host was perhaps not kept there. Friar Joseph knew inwardly that He was present and, without answering directly, astonished his companion, by rising from the ground, flying to the tabernacle on the altar and giving adoration to the Presence within.

This story would be hard to believe on its own. However, there are 70 others involving this Friar Joseph for which witnesses gave accounts and the circumstances recorded, not to mention many others that were not so recorded. These acts of levitation were witnessed by men and women of every station in life, sheperds, townspeople, noblemen, a Spanish ambassador and Pope Urban VIII. They many times included whole groups of people. Sometimes, they even involved Friar Joseph taking the hand of another person and both of them being lifted in the air.

Friar Joseph did not experience such events in isolation. As one who started having ecstasies while still a young child, he never ceased to pray fervently, fast and practice various self-sacrifices, consider himself a sinner or have the most profound respect for the Eucharist.

Also, a great number of miracles are known in connection with Friar Joseph: physical cures, instances of being able to see into the soul and know the sins of others persons, bilocations, predictions of future events and more. For these reasons and others, he was canonized by the Catholic Church in 1763, one hundred years after his death. He is now known as St. Joseph of Copertino.

If but one of the miraculous stories about him is true, then the question must be asked whether his faith in God was justified or whether he just happened to possess some mysterious power as a freak occurrence of nature.

He certainly did not think so. On his deathbed, as the bell sounded to announce that the Blessed Sacrament was being brought to him as Viaticum, he rose and once more, from the door of his room to the stair above his chapel, flew to the wonder of those present. He did not want his Lord to have to come to him. He would go to Him.

Source: Saint Joseph of Copertino, by Fr. Angelo Pastrovicchi, O.M.C. (Rockford, Illinois, Tan Books, 1980).


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