St. Joseph Moscati

Doctor (1880–1927)
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Relatively few laypeople (apart from martyrs) are to be found among the canonized saints. Joseph Moscati—a medical doctor, scientist, and professor—is among these select few who found the path to holiness in his vocation in the world.  

Moscati was born to an aristocratic family outside of Naples, Italy, in 1880. He was inspired to become a doctor after witnessing how his brother was cared for following a serious riding accident. After earning a medical degree he joined the staff of the Hospital for Incurables, where he eventually became director. Although many contemporaries credited him with miraculous cures, his life story is largely unmarked by remarkable deeds. What seems to have made an impression on his contemporaries was his great dedication to the care of his patients, his spirit of charity, and his ability to combine such a demanding job with a life of deep prayer. Truly, he regarded his work as a religious vocation.  

When a volcano threatened a rural branch of his hospital, he rushed to oversee the evacuation of the mostly elderly patients, seeing the last one to safety just before the roof of the building collapsed. He showed similar dedication during a local cholera epidemic. Moscati died at forty-six on April 12, 1927. A huge crowd, including many of his former patients and their families, attended his funeral. His canonization followed in 1987, and his feast day is November 16.  

“Remember that you must treat not only bodies, but also souls, with counsel that appeals to their minds and hearts.”  

—St. Joseph Moscati 

Robert Ellsberg

Robert Ellsberg is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Orbis Books and the author of several award-winning books, including All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time; Blessed Among All Women; and The Saints' Guide to Happiness.