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Did St. Joseph of Cupertino Really Fly?

I remember that old gospel song, “I’ll fly away oh glory, I’ll fly away. When I die, hallelujah by ad by, I’ll fly away.” 

We might “fly away” when we die but devotees of St. Joseph of Cupertino contend that he “flew” not so much in the sweet by and by, but in the bitter here and now.  Because of his supernatural flight Joseph is the patron saint of pilots, astronauts and all aviation workers.

Joseph was born into a poor family in Cupertino, Italy, in 1603. His father was a poor carpenter who died before he was born, and his impoverished mother gave birth to him in a stable.

I can think of another boy born in a stable with a carpenter for a father, but unfortunately this Joseph was not so brilliant. From a human point of view he was a failure.

The poor boy started out with no advantages and his misfortune continued. To put it bluntly, he was stupid to the point of being unteachable. Everything he attempted he failed. His ecstasies began early in life and he would suddenly stop and stand and stare — totally distracted, as if in a trance.

He got the idea that if he was good for nothing he might make it as a friar, but his lack of education meant the friars wouldn’t have him.  Finally he was accepted, only to fail and be rejected and sent away to wander as a beggar. Eventually he returned and offered to be a servant at the friary and look after the mule. Somehow by God’s providence he made it through to ordination as a priest.

His ecstasies, visions and mystical experiences were legendary. He heard heavenly music, went into such a complete trance that he could be dragged about, pierced with needles and burnt with candles and it would have no effect. Most famously he is said to have levitated while in the trance state. Elaborate legends about him flying developed: he flew up into a tree to talk with birds, he flew up to help workmen place a memorial cross into the ground, he flew around the church during Mass.

Read more at National Catholic Register

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