Wednesday, March 04, 2015

St. John Joseph of the Cross: Model of Charity and Humility

The saint of the day for March 5 is St. John Joseph of the Cross, a Franciscan priest who practiced self-denial in order to grow in the virtue of charity.

Saint John Joseph of the Cross was born on the feast of the Assumption in 1654 on the Island of Ischia in Southern Italy. He was a pious and virtuous child. Even as a child, he devoted himself to poverty and fasting. He wore the clothes of the poor, despite the fact that he was a noble. At the age of sixteen, he entered the Franciscan Order of the Reform of Saint Peter of Alcantara, at Naples.

St. John Joseph was a quiet man of contemplation. He practiced self-denial in the form of strict penances: he fasted constantly, never drank wine, and slept only three hours each night. In 1674, he was sent to found a friary at Afila, in Piedmont and helped to build the friary with his own hands. Afterwards, he was elevated to the priesthood and became the master of novices, becoming an excellent model and mentor to them which he evidenced by his gentleness, attentiveness to their needs, and even temperament. As superior, he demonstrated charity and humility, always insisting on performing the lowliest tasks in the community. For example, he insisted on working in the kitchen or carrying the wood and water needed by the friars.

In 1702, he was appointed Vicar Provincial of the Alcantarine Reform Order in Italy. He was blessed with the gift of miracles and people with every form of illness were brought to him for healing. He was also blessed with the supernatural gift of prophecy.  He had a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and encouraged others to cultivate this devotion.

When his term as Vicar Provincial expired, St. John Joseph dedicated himself to hearing confessions and practicing mortification. He died on March 5, 1739, was beatified in 1789, and canonized in 1839 by Pope Gregory XVI.  St. John Joseph of the Cross is the patron saint of Ischilia, Italy, the place where he was born.

Saint John Joseph of the Cross Quotes

"God is a tender father, who loves and succors all.”

"Were there neither heaven nor hell, still would I ever wish to love God, who is a father so deserving of our love."

"Doubt not. Trust in God. He will provide."

"Let us hope in God, and doubtless we shall be comforted.”


Father, You raised Your servant Saint John Joseph of the Cross through the rugged way of poverty, humility and patience to heavenly glory. Grant us the grace to follow his example so as to share in eternal joy.

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