St. Giuseppe Moscati’s fest day is on November 16. He is one saint that isn’t widely known by a majority of Catholics. Since his feast day falls on the same day as two other dynamic saints (St. Gertrude and St. Margaret of Scotland), he is often overlooked. It very much resembles what his life was like, simple and “nothing extraordinary.”
Here are 15 facts that may just change your mind and will have you celebrating his feast day next year.
1. In the beginning
St. Giuseppe came from an aristocrat family but decided not to continue his father’s legacy in law and the magistrate. Instead, he decided to become a doctor after his older brother, Alberto, fell off a horse during military service and received irreversible head trauma.
2. The Embodiment of Charity
He used his vocation as a doctor to serve the poor. When a patient couldn’t afford his medication or even food to eat, he would send them home with money in an envelope to make sure they got what they needed. He would even leave his own money under the pillows of the poor. He once told a student, “Not science, but charity, has transformed the world.”
3. A Discovery That Keeps Giving to This Day
His research led to the discovery of insulin which has been life-saving for diabetics, undoubtedly inspired by his mother’s death from the disease.
4. Service Over Prestige
He turned down the opportunity to have a professorial chair in order to keep serving his patients and training future doctors that could help them in the future.
5. “O Death, I Will Be Thy Death…”
In the autopsy room of the Institute of Anatomical Pathology, he placed a crucifix that had part of Hosea 13:14 written on it.
6. The Military says, “No grazie.”
He was rejected by the Italian armed forces because they believed he could serve them better taking care of the wounded that fought in World War I. His biography reports that he treated nearly 3,000 soldiers during this time.
7. The Bachelor
He remained a bachelor all his life. At the age of 34, he made a private vow to remain celibate (something he felt called to doing), deciding to best serve God through his vocation as a doctor.
8. God and the Sacraments for all
Despite attending the agnostic and anti-clerical University of Naples, his faith continued to mature in his faith. He attended daily Mass and the Eucharist was at the center of his world. Before he examined a patient or doing any research, he was known to place himself in the presence of God.
After he became a doctor, if he knew his patient’s spiritual life was in danger, he would also prescribe to them a dose of the sacraments of his part of his treatment plan for them. This was especially true if the patient was to undergo surgery of any kind. He considered the sacraments to be the “first medicine.”
9. A supernatural gift
It is said that he had a gift of being able to diagnose and provide the patient with a treatment plan by simply hearing their symptoms, sometimes without even seeing them. There were many miracles attributed to him even while he was still alive.
10. Respect for the cloth
St. Giuseppe discerned to become a Jesuit. However, the Jesuits thought it would be better if he remained out in the secular world. Instead, he became a Third Order Franciscan, living simply and taking a voluntary vow of poverty. He also gave back by refusing to charge priests or religious due to the respect he felt for their vocations.
11. A brilliant mind
He studied and became proficient in 20 different medical specialties in order to best serve others.
12) Mama’s Boy
He was known to carry a rosary in his pocket to keep our Blessed Mother (and, in turn, Jesus) close to him whenever he needed to make important decisions.
13. A Holy Death
He died at 3:00 pm—the hour of divine mercy—on the Tuesday of Holy Week, April 1927. He buried on Holy Thursday, which some say is fitting because of his great love of the Eucharist.
14. The One that Made Him a Saint
The miracle that catapulted him to sainthood status was the case of a young ironworker who was dying of leukemia. One night, the man’s mother dreamt of a doctor wearing a white coat. She did not know who the doctor was but later identified him as Dr. Moscati after she was shown a picture of him. Her son went into remission shortly after the dream.
15. In His Own Words
His most famous quote is
“Remember that you have to deal not only with the bodies but also with the moaning souls coming to you. How many suffering people you will more easily soothe by advising and going straight to their souls, instead of giving good prescriptions to be given to the chemist! Be joyful because great will be your reward; but you will have to set a good example of your elevation to God.”
These facts are just the tips of the iceberg. His life is much more interesting and inspiring that these short snippets. It is highly recommendable that you read the biography or even watch the movie based on his life.
Whether you’re a single layman or laywoman, a doctor (current, future, or aspiring), or have chronic illnesses that will occasionally keep you down, I can think of no better patron saint than St. Giuseppe Moscati!