Joseph of Cupertino is most famous for levitating during prayer. Already as a child, Joseph showed a fondness for prayer. After a short career with the Capuchins, he joined the Conventual Franciscans. Following a brief assignment caring for the friary mule, Joseph began his studies for the priesthood. Though studies were very difficult for him, Joseph gained a great deal of knowledge from prayer and was ordained.
Joseph’s tendency to levitate during prayer was sometimes a cross to bear. Some people came to see him levitate as they might have gone to a circus sideshow. Joseph’s gift led him to be humble, patient, and obedient, even though at times he was greatly tempted and felt forsaken by God.
The friars transferred Joseph several times for his own good and for the good of the rest of the community. He was reported to and investigated by the Inquisition; the examiners exonerated him. Joseph was canonized in 1767. In the investigation preceding the canonization, 70 incidents of levitation are recorded.
While levitation is an extraordinary sign of holiness, Joseph is also remembered for the ordinary signs he showed. He prayed even in times of inner darkness, living out the Sermon on the Mount.