Joseph of Leonessa, St.

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Capuchin preacher and missionary; b. Leonessa, Italy, Jan. 8, 1556; d. Amatrice, Italy, Feb. 4, 1612. St. Joseph was the son of a nobleman, Giovanni Desiderii, and Francesca Paolini, who had him baptized as Euphranius. At 15, both parents having died, he lived with his uncle Battista, a professor in Viterbo, who educated him. On Jan. 1, 1573, he joined the Capuchin Order and changed his name to Joseph. When or where he was ordained is not known, but after ordination he preached with much success in Abruzzi and the neighboring regions. At his request, he was sent to preach to the infidels. He departed on Aug. 1, 1587, for Constantinople, where he ministered to galley slaves and preached in the city. Eventually he was imprisoned, but upon his release he took up the same tasks. Later, he was seized in an attempt to enter the royal palace to preach to the sultan and was condemned to death. After hanging by hooks through his hand and foot for three days, he was miraculously released. He returned to Italy, where he again became known for his preaching and love for the poor and sick, working many miracles, before dying after an operation for cancer. His body, buried first in Amatrice, was transferred to Leonessa. He was beatified on June 19, 1737, by clement xii; canonized on June 29, 1746, by bene dict xiv; and declared on Jan. 12, 1952, the patron of the Capuchin missions in the Turkish Republic by pius xii.

Feast: Feb. 4.

Bibliography: Lexicon Capuccinum (Rome 1951) 865867. a. brennan, Saint Joseph of Leonessa (London 1912). giacinto da belmonte, Vita di St. Giuseppe da Leonessa (Rome 1896). i. mausolf, Round Table of Franciscan Research 14 (1948) 123.

[v. wydeven]