St. John Joseph of the Cross was born about the middle of the seventeenth century in the beautiful island of Ischia, near Naples. From his childhood he was the model of virtue, and in his sixteenth year he entered the Franciscan Order of the Strictest Observance, or Reform of St. Peter of Alcantara. Such was the edification he gave in his Order, that within three years after his profession he was sent to found a monastery in Piedmont. He became a priest out of obedience, and obtained, as it seems, an inspired knowledge of moral theology. With his superiors’ permission he built another convent and drew up rules for that community, which were confirmed by the Holy See. He afterward became Master of Novices. Sometimes later he was made provincial of the province of Naples, erected in the beginning of the eighteenth century by Clement XI. He labored hard to establish in Italy that branch of his Order which the sovereign Pontiff had separated from the one in Spain. In his work he suffered much, and became the victim of numerous calumnies. However, the saint succeeded in his labors, endeavoring to instill in the hearts of his subjects, the double spirit of contemplation and penance bequeathed to his Reform by St. Peter of Alcantara. St. John Joseph exemplified the most sublime virtues, especially humility and religious discipline. He also possessed numerous gifts in the supernatural order, such as those of prophesy and miracles. Finally, consumed by labors for the glory of God, he was called to his reward. Stricken with apoplexy, he died an octogenarian in his convent at Naples on March 5, 1734.
St. John Joseph’s mortification allowed him to be the kind of forgiving superior intended by St. Francis. Self-denial should lead us to charity—not to bitterness; it should help us clarify our priorities and make us more loving.
Father, You raised Your servant Saint John Joseph of the Cross through the rugged way of poverty, humility and patience to heavenly glory. Grant us the grace to follow his example so as to share in eternal joy. Amen.