June 23

St. Joseph Cafasso

St. Joseph Cafasso

Born 15 January 1811, Joseph Cafasso is the patron saint of Italianprisons, prison chaplains, prisoners and those condemned to death. InItalian, Joseph Cafasso is known as Giuseppe Cafasso. He was born in theKingdom of Sardinia at the time. This area now forms part of France,Italy, and Monaco. He is now greatly venerated in the Roman CatholicChurch.

Life and Works of Joseph Cafasso

Joseph Cafasso was born with a deformed spine. He was the third born outof a total of four children, with peasant class parents. From a youngage, Cafasso always wanted to be a priest. In order to pursue thisdream, Cafasso undertook his ecclesial studies in Turin and Chieri.

He successfully completed his ecclesial studies and became an ordainedpriest in the archdiocesan cathedral on 21 September 1833. He furtheredhis studies the Turin college for a total of four months.

While furthering his studies, he met Luigi Guala; the co-founder of theInstitute of St. Francis of Assisi. Joseph stayed connected to thiscollege, progressing from student to later, the successor of Guala’sposition of college rector in 1848.

As Joseph Cafasso grew stronger in his spiritual leadership, he decidedto join the Third Order of St. Francis. It was here where he became ateacher and taught the teachings of the Bible. While being a teacher, henever once ignored his duties as a priest. He aided those who came frompoorer backgrounds by supplying them with books and other schoolsupplies they needed to see their studies through to completion.

In 1836, he became a well-known figure for his work and teachings inmoral theological subjects. He drew on various teachings from the Frenchschool, as well as other notable academics such as Alphonsus Liguori andFrancis de Sales. He also fought against the intrusions of the state inchurch affairs.

He was also well-known for being as frugal as possible. He never smokedor drank anything other than water alone. He never complained aboutaches and pains, such as headaches or toothaches. He was noted for hisearly Mass at 4:30 every morning. Furthermore, he would often spend longhours in the chapel.

Joseph Cafasso was also noted for being a confessor and spiritualdictator. He guided people to found new religious institutions orcongregations, helping the church meet the needs of the world as theysee fit. He also did extensive work in the prisons. Here, he served as acomforter for those who were condemned to death. Due to this, he quicklygained the nickname of “Priest of the Gallows.”

The most notable moment of his extensive work in the prisons was when hepersonally escorted a total of 60 prison inmates condemned to death tothe gallows. Once they had confessed their sins and said their finalwords, they were given absolution. Following this, they were hung totheir death. Joseph Cafasso often referred to those hung once givenabsolution, as “hanged saints.”

The Death of Joseph Cafasso

On 23 June 1860, at the age of 49, Joseph Cafasso passed away. He passedaway from pneumonia. This pneumonia was coupled with several othercomplications. These complications include that of a stomach haemorrhageand from congenital medical issues.

All he owned was bequeathed to the Little House of Providence, which wasa religious order close to his heart that was founded decades before hispassing. Pope Pius XII canonized Joseph Cafasso on 22 June 1947, at theVatican City in Saint Peter’s Basilica. Furthermore, Pope Pius XIIdeclared him a patron saint of all Italian prisoners on 9 April 1948.

5 Interesting Facts About St. Joseph Cafasso

  1. There is a monument erected in his honour at Turin.
  2. In 1968, a church in Rome was dedicated to him.
  3. His feast day is celebrated on 23 June.
  4. The major shrine of Joseph Cafasso is located at Santuario della
    Consolata, Turin in Italy.
  5. He was beatified on 3 May 1925 by Pope Pius XII, in Saint Peter’s
    Basilica in the Kingdom of Italy.

Prayer to St. Joseph Cafasso

O God, Father of infinite goodness, you endowed your priest, SaintJoseph Cafasso, with outstanding gifts of charity and wisdom to trainaccording to Gospel principles ministers of the word and reconciliation;grant to us, through his intercession, a sense of brotherly compassion,so that we may walk in holiness and justice all the days of our life. Wemake our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who is God, andlives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, for ever andever.