Anyone living in Silicon Valley is aware that schools in the city of Cupertino are top scoring in the state. Students there perform exceedingly well on the state’s all-important API tests and have a very high success rate with getting into good colleges & universities.
But how many know that the city’s patron saint, St. Joseph of Cupertino, is also the patron saint of students and test takers?
There are a number of articles online about his life, in which we see that he was a slow learner, had trouble focusing and struggled for that reason in many areas of his life. He was successful early on neither in school nor in attempts to find work or even acceptance with a religious order, the Franciscans. To read about him is to feel sorry for him in those early years. Frustrated and discouraged, he had a bad temper as a youngster. On top of everything else, his father died while his mother was expecting Joseph, so he was raised by a single mother – tough for both of them!
He grew in humility (doing penance), though, and this appears to have been how God best reached him, at least initially. In time, Joseph did become a Franciscan friar, grew in holiness and became deeply in awe of and in love with God. In prayer he sometimes would levitate – yes, raise off the ground – so he is also the patron saint of pilots and those who fly.
At this point, there are probably some readers muttering “you have got to be kidding me”. I know, in this day and age (and especially in Silicon Valley) we are supposed to be very skeptical of any of this kind of phenomena taking place. While there are many, many other saints who were said to have levitated (Google it and you’ll see), I don’t think any did it as often or with so many witnesses as was the case with this Italian saint.
What does the Church do with these kinds of things? (What’s a bishop to do?) You may have noticed that the hierarchy doesn’t officially or immediately love it when the populace gets overly excited about things like visions, the stigmata (St Francis, Padre Pio), remote viewing (St. Clare of Assisi), let alone people suddenly rising on thin air.
Most often, I think wisely, these phenomena are downplayed and kept quiet when they happen, particularly when there’s uncertainty about their veracity or the fallout from it becoming well known. The Church wants to make sure that this isn’t going to screw up anyone’s faith, so it’s slow to embrace it – “using caution” would be British understatement.
What about our hero? In the case of poor St. Joseph, he became extremely well known, literally the talk of the town, because of these levitations. I imagine it created quite a spectacle…..
Unfortunately for this friar, the attention his ecstasies created ended up creating trouble for him. Ordered to keep out of sight, he was confined to his room for decades, moved around when the faithful figured out where he was, and later was even subjected to the Inquisition.
The bishop probably didn’t know what to do or suggest – this isn’t the kind of thing they train you for in the seminary or even in Rome!
Throughout his adult trials, St. Joseph kept a good attitude and trusted in Divine Providence. His humility and desire to grow spiritually allowed God’s grace to work great wonders in him. We’ve only scratched the surface on his life and impact here, and I invite you to do more research on him. There are a few links below to get you started.
Quick facts on St. Joseph of Cupertino
- From Copertino, Italy (in the “heel of the boot”)
- Born June 17, 1603
- Died September 18, 1663 (his feast day)
- Canonized July 16, 1767
- Buried at Osimo in Italy