St. Joseph of Cupertino: A Portrait

Saint Joseph of Cupertino, patron saint of air travelers, aviators, astronauts, and students


Saint Joseph of Cupertino, patron saint of air travelers, aviators, astronauts, and students

As final exams start and the end of the academic approaches, study techniques become highly sought after to end the year on a good note. Countless tips are continually exhausted year after year: play background music, try the Pomodoro Method, use rewards, make flashcards, etc. The best one, however, is much less common; praying to St. Joseph of Cupertino.

St. Joseph was born in the town of Cupertino, in the Kingdom of Naples, located in the southern Italian peninsula, during the year 1603. Coming from very unfortunate circumstances, as his father, a carpenter, had fallen into debt, his mother was forced to give birth to her son in a stable. From a very early age, St. Joseph would have visions from God, and would have an open mouth while having these visions. As a result of this, he struggled in school. Many considered him as useless, even his mother. She became very strict and unaffectionate towards him. Once he grew old enough, St. Joseph joined the Capuchins, but was dismissed after eight months because of his many mistakes. His mother was displeased at her son’s return, he began again to search for other employment. After great effort, he gained a position at a Franciscan monastery as a servant, taking care of the horses.

At the monastery, St. Joseph became very close to God, and grew greatly in the Fruits of the Spirit during his tenure as a monastery servant. He prayed often, and through this, labored hard and well over his work. Soon, he was to become one of the friars himself. However, St. Joseph’s love for Christ was so great, he wished to be ordained a Priest. When it came time to take a test to enter the priesthood, he again struggled to learn, similar to when he was a child. With prayer, God granted him a very special gift. After only being quizzed on the one subject he was very comfortable with, he passed the exam, became a deacon, and soon was ordained into the priesthood. 

The most special thing about St. Joseph is his infinite love for God. He would often feel such great joy, even the slightest mention of his Lord, that he would levitate. This occurred commonly at the masses he celebrated, attended, and even during regular life. This immense gift also posed great challenges for St. Joseph. He attracted many enemies in his life because of the gifts he had been given by God, and was repeatedly moved around countless times in his career to protect him. St. Joseph was even looked into by the Inquisition in his lifetime. Because of his great faith, the Devil tried also to tempt him, but to no avail; the love inside was too strong to penetrate. He was also afflicted with a heart ailment by the end of his life, along with constant fasting, he was believably in great physical and mental pain, but he never let his physical hardships get in the way of his pure and tender heart for God, and always had an endless quantity of love to spare.

St. Joseph did not only have some adversaries in life, but he was also a role model to many. People came from all over to hear his advice and counsel on matters of faith because, he may not have had the greatest knowledge in earthly things, but St. Joseph possessed unquestionable wisdom in his religion. His great trust and hope in God even inspired Duke John Frederick of Brunswick to convert to Catholicism after viewing only one mass celebrated by the priest in question. 

On Earth, St. Joseph did not necessarily have a very easy time, but God’s love turned him into a man who will be remembered by history forever as one who loved Him to unimaginable heights. Even in the darkest of hours, he found the one little candle left, and never lost faith in that light’s power, the power of God.

As the patron saint of those who are preparing for tests, St. Joseph is a priceless help to all who are studying. His prayer is found in the Deep Work Center at Montrose, and he has assisted me many times in test taking. Firstly, praying to him supports a less stress-filled time in working because one knows that it is in God’s hands now, and that He will take care of everything the perfect way for you. It also boosts confidence, at least in my experience, to know that God is there, and the calmness it brings helps to focus on one’s work more assiduously.

St. Joseph of Cupertino passed away in 1663, to joining God in Heaven. He is the patron saint of air travelers, aviators, and astronauts along with students. His feast day is celebrated on September 18th. He lived a very holy and loving life, and amidst the challenges, never gave up hope. As a perfect model for all Catholics who wish to grow in faith, hope, and love, he lives forever in the hearts of many. 

By Elisabeth Smith ‘28, Middle School Editor