Saints can come from all circumstances and backgrounds. Many have been born poor. Others were born into wealthy families. Some were greatly loved by their families. Others were not as well loved. Joseph of Cupertino falls into the category of growing up both poor and, sadly, unloved by his family. Here is his story.
The Truth Will Set You Free
Attempt at Religious Life
The trial did not last long. The brothers found that it was virtually impossible to teach him anything. In addition, he would have his usual distractions that were actually moments of piety. The problem is that they would occur at any time. Joseph would be holding a stack of plates one moment, and the next, he would be on his knees in prayer as plates crashed to the ground and broke into dozens of pieces. Oblivious to the scene he had caused, the brothers did not know what to make of him.
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A Second Chance at Religious Life
That attitude was magnetic to the brothers. And soon many of them were making excuses to go down to the stable to spend time with Joseph. He was just such an agreeable person despite the difficulties in his life that the brothers just wanted to be around him. He also was the most selfless person that they had met. And there was no one who got along better with the poor. The poor would come to him for assistance which Joseph readily gave. And they paid no attention to any of his odd behaviors.
Passing the Exams with Flying Colors
Only a year later, Joseph appeared for the exam for the priesthood. Again, everyone expected him to fail. This time, the bishop questioned the young men one-by-one and found himself deeply impressed with their answers. Before Joseph had been questioned by the bishop, the bishop said that he had heard enough from these bright young men and with that, he gave all of them a passing grade. Thus, at the age of 25, Joseph was ordained a priest.
Flights of Devotion
When he went out begging, he would often return with a sack full of food but missing articles of clothing or his rosary. Completely unaware of what was happening, Joseph did not notice the people were snipping off articles of his clothing in order to have a relic from him. Because they could not afford to give him new clothes, the community told him to stop begging.
As the community had gotten to know Joseph, it became clear that his random acts of piety were truly deep contemplative prayers that would seize him perhaps when he had a holy thought. He would become so transfixed that nothing would alter his state. The brothers might prick him with needles or even touch a burning coal to his hand, but that would have no effect. Instead, unless the superior gave an order, he would remain in this ecstasy until it was over. And when it was over, he would kindly ask them to not prick him or touch burning coals to him.
After a faithful life of service, Joseph died of natural causes at the age of sixty.
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