18th September - St Joseph of Cupertino

Written by Anne Newman 27th September 2019

St. Joseph was born Giuseppe Maria Desa, on 17th 1603 at Cupertino, Naples, Italy. He was the son of Felice Desa and Francesca Panara

His father died before his birth, and the family home was seized to settle the large debts he had left, so his mother was forced to give birth to him in a stable.

He was said to be slow to learn and absent-minded and his mother treated him harshly and she considered him simple. He was said to frequently wander aimlessly, with his mouth gaping open.

Joseph began to experience ecstatic visions as a child, which continued throughout his life, and made him the object of scorn.

He was apprenticed by his uncle to a shoemaker. He tried to learn the trade of shoemaking, but failed. So in 1620 he applied to the Conventual Franciscan friars, but was rejected due to his lack of education. He then applied to the Cappuchian friars in Martino, near Taranto, and was accepted in 1620 as a lay brother, but was then, eight months later, dismissed as he could not seem to do anything right.

Joseph returned home.

His mother was not at all pleased to have the eighteen-year-old Joseph back home again, so she pleaded with the friars near Cupertino to allow him to serve in their stables. He worked there for several years and impressed the friars with the devotion and simplicity of his life.

However, he had a very hard time with studies. During his seminary exams, the examiner happened to ask him to explain the only thing he knew well, and so he became a deacon, and was later ordained a priest on 28th March 1628.

He was then sent to the Madonna delle Grazzie at Gravina in Puglia. His deep devotional life led him to the kind of holiness which is forged through humility, voluntary mortification, and obedience. He was consecrated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and promoted devotion to her.

St. Joseph became so famous for the miracles that he was finally kept hidden from the public.

The life of this saint was marked by ecstasies and levitations. The mere mention of God or a spiritual matter was enough to take him out of his senses; at Mass he is said to have frequently floated in the air in rapture. Often he went into ecstasy and would be caught up in talking with God.

People flocked to him in droves seeking help and advice in the confessional, and he assisted many in living a truly devout Christian life. However, this humble man had to endure many severe trials and terrible temptations throughout his life.

He died on 18th September 1663 and the 18th September became his feast day.

He is the patron saint of air travelers, pilots and learning disabled.


Anne is sharing a series of events throughout the year - you can find them listed by clicking to the link Other Notable Dates and Festivals.