St. Joseph Moscati


Joseph Moscati was born in Benevento, Italy, on July 25, 1880. He was born to virtuous Catholic parents being the seventh of nine children. His father was a lawyer and President of the Court of Assize in Naples. He was a very friendly and well-liked person. He was extremely intelligent, pious and prayerful.

He went to medical school at the University of Naples. He studied rigorously and frequented daily Mass. He suffered much grief when his beloved father died during his first year in medical school. He pressed on and graduated with a degree in Medicine and Surgery, summa cum laude, when he was only 23 years old in 1903. In 1906, he heroically saved many patients who could have died in the hospital when the roof was collapsing during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. He also was known to save many during a cholera epidemic in 1911. Later that same year, he became holder of the Naples University Chair in Chemical Physiology. Around 1912 or 1913, he made a vow of chastity, consecrating himself to a life of celibacy. He then aspired to be a Jesuit but was discourage by the Jesuit priests who discerned that God’s will was for Dr. Moscati to remain in the world as a physician. In 1914, the start of World War I, his mother died. He volunteered in the Italian Army and became a major. He cared for the wounded soldiers and helped them become good Catholics.

Dr. Moscati’s philosophy for medical practice was to save souls by caring for the body. He believed that the health of the body depended upon the soul remaining in the state of grace. He is quoted in saying that “one must attend first to the salvation of the soul and only then to that of the body.” Through his practice, he helped many lapsed Catholics to return to the Sacraments. His favorite patients were the poor, the homeless, the religious and the priests-all from whom he would never accept payment. He actually went as far as secretly leaving his money within a patient’s prescription or under a patient’s pillow.
One day he even refused payment from all his patients saying “These are working folk. What have we that has not been given us by Our Lord? Woe to us if we do not make good use of God’s gifts!”

He was always good to his patients. When one of his patients complained about the strict diet the good doctor prescribed, Dr. Moscati replied “God make us suffer here in order to reward us in the heavenly Kingdom; by resigning ourselves to dietary restrictions, and suffering, we shall have greater merit in the eyes of the Almighty.”

Professionally, he commanded the highest admiration and respect from his peers and his students. Some of his pupils would accompany him to Mass. He received communion everyday and had a great devotion to Our Lady, the Immaculate Conception.

Though he saved many, he knew that he himself would not live long. After doing his normal hospital rounds and visiting the poor and examining patients in his home, he felt ill, stopped work, went to his room, sat in his chair and expired. He died at the age of 46. Pope John Paul II canonized Joseph Moscati during the Marian Year of 1987-1988 on October 25, 1987. Dr. Moscati’s feastday is November 16.

Summarized and adapted from:
Joan Carroll Cruz, “Secular Saints: 250 Canonized and Beatified Lay Men, Women, and Children.