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Saint Joseph Cafasso

Saint Joseph Cafasso
  • Century: 19th Century
  • Patronage: Prisoners, Prison, Chaplains, Captives
  • Feast Day: June 23rd

Giuseppe Cafasso was a significant social reformer in the early nineteenth century.  He was born in Piedmont, Italy in 1811. Even as a young man Joseph loved to attend Mass and was known for his humility and fervor in prayer.  Giuseppe was ordained as a young man, and assigned to a seminary in Turin. There he worked especially against the spirit of Jansenism, an excessive preoccupation with sin and damnation.  Joseph used the works of St. Francis de Sales and St. Alphonsus Liguori to moderate the regiment, popular at the Seminary. 

Joseph himself, studied at the seminary in Turin, and continued his theological studies at the seminary and university in Turin, and then at the Institute of St. Francis.  Despite a deformed spine, he became a brilliant lecturer in “Moral Theology”.  He was noted for fighting state intrusion into Church affairs.   He also was the rector of the Institute and made a deep impression on his young priest students with his holiness and discipline of high standards for his students.   

He was a sought after confessor and spiritual adviser, and ministered to prisoners – working to improve their terrible conditions.  He met Don Bosco in 1827 and the two of them became great friends.  It was through Joseph’s encouragement that Don Bosco decided that his vocation was working with boys.  Joseph was his adviser, and worked closely with him in his foundations, convincing others to fund and found religious Institutes and Charitable Organizations.  

Among the most notable attributes that Joseph presented were his ability to preach, a great confessor, and retreat master.  He was also noted for his commitment to work with condemned prisoners, helping many of them to die in a state of grace, and at peace with God.  He was the apostle of prions and the comforter of those condemned to the death penalty and was called, “The Priest of the Gallows”.  He was canonized by Pope Pius XII in 1947.  Joseph found his strength to do this through his Devotion to the Eucharist – which gave energy to all of his activities.  

Practical Take Away

St. Joseph Cafasso was able to see those that were in most need of the sacraments and of God’s Mercy, and was able to draw strength from the Holy Eucharist to assist him.  He helped many souls that were condemned to death, by bringing peace to their souls, and reconciling them with God.  He also understood the importance of standing up to the State, to keep them out of Church matters.  In today’s society with our religious freedom being attacked, we too, can draw strength from the intercession of St. Joseph Cafasso.  The Church calls for his intersession on his Feast Day. May we all become stronger in helping those most in need of God’s Mercy, by asking for the intercession of St. Joseph Cafasso’s.