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St. Joseph of Cupertino
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Religious Figure
    (June 17, 1603-September 18, 1663)
    Born in Copertino, Italy
    Birth name was Giuseppe Maria Desa
    Franciscan monk
    Known for his ecstatic visions and ability to levitate
    Canonized (1763)
    His first attempt at joining a religious order, the Capuchins, lasted only eight months, as his trances and absentmindedness made it difficult for him to do his assigned chores.
    He was accepted into the priesthood by luck: the examining priest found the first few candidates so outstanding that he admitted the rest of the group, including Joseph, on the assumption they were of equal quality.
    He ate solid food only twice a week, and would cover those meals with a powder so bitter that only he could eat them.
    He would flagellate himself with a whip studded with bits of metal, leaving the walls of his cell spattered with blood. (At least until his superior confiscated the whip.)
    He referred to himself as 'the Ass.'
    He would shriek loudly before levitating.
    After he landed in a tree during one bout of levitation he had to be rescued with a ladder because he was afraid of heights.
    He was born in a stable after the family home was seized by creditors.
    His levitation was witnessed by Pope Urban VIII.
    Johann Friedrich, Duke of Brunswick and patron of Leibniz, witnessed Joseph levitating twice and was so overawed that he converted from Lutheranism and became a Roman Catholic.
    He was frequently moved to new monasteries in increasingly obscure corners of Italy to keep him out of the public eye.
    He was declared the patron saint of aviators and astronauts.

Credit: C. Fishel


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