Saint Joseph of Cupertino’s life started off like a scrambled up version of the childhood of Christ. Joseph (the one born in 1603) wasn’t a carpenter – but his father was. Sadly, his father died before he was born, and was in so much debt that his mother had to run away and give birth to Joseph in – you guessed it – a stable.
From an early age, Joseph was blessed – and if ever there were a saint who could teach you about the double-edged sword of God’s blessings, it’d be Joe. He would have ecstatic visions (think “resting in the Spirit”), but not just in mo- ments of deep prayer. The smallest reminder of God’s love – a painting of Christ, a simple prayer, even the sound of church bells – any of them could send him into ecstasy.
Frozen and Jobless
That sounds great, until you realize that it left Joseph frozen wherever he was standing, mouth open and eyes looking into another part of existence; it actually earned him the nickname “Bocca Aperta” (Open Mouth). And, as you could guess, it’s pretty hard to get a steady job if you get a blast of the supernatural every time the church’s clock hits the quarter hour. So, after getting harassed by his mom and relatives for being a “do-nothing,” he went to the source of all his joy: Christ.
But the adversity didn’t stop there for Joe. See, even the religious orders he tried to join wanted him to help out and do work – and as his visions and ecstasies continued to interrupt life, he found himself on the outside looking in yet again. Finally, he found a home with the Franciscans of La Grotella (the little grotto) and was accepted into their community. (If they were cool with Saint Francis talking to birds, a guy having visions couldn’t have seemed that weird, right?)
I Believe I Can Fly
You may be thinking to yourself, “Okay, so this guy had a lot of visions – that only seems mildly crazy in comparison to all the other things God’s done with saints.” But you see, like any good storyteller, we’ve saved the best for last. Joseph of Cupertino happens to be the patron saint of astronauts and pilots – because he flew. Not “LeBron James hovering over people en route to a dunk” flew, but straight- up “hovering above crowds in midair until his superior told him to come down” flew.
It happened so much after he joined the Franciscans that he actually had to live in his room for almost thirty-five years, saying Mass and praying in a private chapel away from crowds. When he did go out, he’d come back with his clothes torn up, because people wanted a piece of his robes as a relic (apparently it’s true what they say about Catholics always showing up for a free giveaway). One of Joseph’s most famous flights was in front of Pope Urban VIII (who didn’t start Urban Outfitters, FYI); when Joseph bent down to kiss the Pope’s ring, he flew almost thirty feet into the air in front of everyone, and couldn’t get down until the head of his order asked him to.
If you find Saint Joseph’s story to be a little “too unbelievable” ask yourself why. Invite Saint Joseph to pray with you and ask the Holy Spirit to open your mind to a realm of new spiritual possibilities. As Scripture reminds us, “All things are possible with God” (Matthew 19:26). The Church celebrates Saint Joseph of Cupertino’s feast day on September 18th, but there’s no official word from the Vatican on what he did with all those frequent flier miles in heaven.
This story of St. Joseph of Cupertino is an excerpt from the book “Holier Than Thou” which you can find in the Life Teen Store.