mercredi 4 février 2015

Saint JOSEPH de LEONESSA, prêtre

Saint Joseph de Leonessa, prêtre

Né en 1556 à Léonessa, en Ombrie, il devient prêtre capucin en 1572. Il est envoyé en Turquie où il apporte son aide aux chrétiens captifs de Constantinople. Prêchant l’évangile jusqu’au palais du sultan, il est arrêté et condamné à mort. Abominablement torturé, il parvient cependant à rentrer en Italie où il consacre les dix dernières années de sa vie à la prédication et au soin des pauvres. Il meurt en 1686.

Saint Joseph de Leonessa

prêtre capucin ( 1612)

Eufranio Desideri né en 1556 à Leonessa en Ombrie (Italie), est le saint patron de cette ville. Il est ordonné frère capucin en 1572 et est remarqué par l'austérité et la pureté de sa vie. Dans l'élan de sa foi, il se rend en Turquie où il est arrêté et torturé. Miraculeusement sauvé, il retourne sur sa terre natale où il prêche sans relâche pour la conversion des pêcheurs. Canonisé en 1745.

Né à Léonissa près de Spolète en Italie, il entre à 16 ans chez les Pères Capucins, ordre de spiritualité franciscaine. Envoyé à Constantinople pour soigner les chrétiens captifs des Turcs, il se dévoue auprès des galériens. Ayant tenté un jour d'entrer dans le palais du sultan, il est arrêté, condamné à mort, mais il sort indemne de ses supplices et, chassé de Constantinople, rentre en Italie. Là, pendant vingt années, il poursuivra sa prédication et son apostolat.

A lire aussi - en anglais - sur le site des capucins australiens.

À Amatrice dans les Abruzzes, en 1612, saint Joseph de Leonessa, prêtre de l’Ordre des Mineurs Capucins. Il soigna à Constantinople les chrétiens captifs des Turcs et son zèle le poussa à tenter d’entrer dans le palais pour prêcher l’Évangile au Sultan lui-même. Arrêté aussitôt, il fut suspendu à une croix par un pied et un bras. Banni ensuite par le Sultan et rentré dans sa patrie, il se consacra aux missions et au soin des pauvres.

Martyrologe romain

St. Joseph of Leonessa

In the world named Eufranio Desiderio; born in 1556 at Leonessa in Umbria; died 4 February, 1612. From his infancy he showed a remarkably religious bent of mind; he used to erect little altars and spend much time in prayer before them, and often he would gather his companions and induce them to pray with him. Whilst yet a boy he used to take the discipline on Fridays in company with the confraternity of St. Saviour. He was educated by his uncle, who had planned a suitable marriage for him, but in his sixteenth year he fell sick of a fever, and on his recovery, without consulting his relative, he joined the Capuchin reform of the Franciscan Order. He made his novitiate in the convent of the Carcerelle near Assisi. As a religious he was remarkable for his great abstinence. "Brother Ass", he would say to his body, "there is no need to feed thee as a noble horse would be fed: thou must be content to be a poor ass." In 1599, the year before his Jubilee year, he fasted the whole year by way of preparation for gaining the indulgence. In 1587 he was sent by the Superior General of his order to Constantinople to minister to the Christians held captive there. Arrived there he and his companions lodged in a derelict house of Benedictine monks. The poverty in which the friars lived attracted the attention of the Turks, who went in numbers to see the new missionaries. He was very solicitous in ministering to the captive Christians in the galleys. Every day he went into the city to preach, and he was at length thrown into prison and only released at the intervention of the Venetian agent. Urged on by zeal he at last sought to enter the palace to preach before the Sultan, but he was seized and condemned to death. For three days he hung on the gallows, held up by two hooks driven through his right hand and foot; then he was miraculously released by an angel. Returning to Italy, he took with him a Greek archbishop who had apostatized, and who was reconciled to the Church on their arrival in Rome. Joseph now took up the work of home missions in his native province, sometimes preaching six or seven times a day. In the Jubilee year of 1600 he preached the Lent at Otricoli, a town through which crowds of pilgrims passed on their way to Rome. Many of them being very poor, Joseph supplied them with food; he also washed their clothes and cut their hair. At Todi he cultivated with his own hands a garden, the produce of which was for the poor. His feast is kept on 4 February throughout the Franciscan Order. He was canonized by Benedict XIV.

St. Joseph of Leonessa clung to the cross of Christ as his only strength in life, and it gave him great perseverance and hope.

Eufranio Deseridi was born in Leonessa, Italy, in 1556, and was orphaned at the age of 12. He was raised by an uncle, who arranged a marriage for him that Eufranio declined because he felt a call to religious life.

He met a group of Capuchin monks, and was impressed by their life together. He joined them at the age of 18, taking the name Joseph. He was known for the intensity of his prayer, and he was ordained a priest. 

As a priest, he preached throughout the region, always holding a crucifix. His words were so interesting that he once converted a gang of 50 highway bandits who came to listen to his homilies out of curiosity.

He was assigned as a missionary in a suburb of Constantinople, and became a chaplain to a group of 4,000 Christian galley slaves. He continued to preach, and his words comforted the imprisoned Christians and even converted some of their guards. 

His zeal landed him in prison twice, and he was even tortured for demanding an audience with the sultan—he was hung by hooks over a smoky fire for three days. When released, he returned to Italy to continue his life as a wandering preacher.

Joseph was a tireless advocate for the poor, and established hospitals, homeless shelters, and food banks to serve them. He was known to wade into gang fights and brawls to preach peace, carrying nothing but the crucifix he kept with him.

In his 50s, he was struck with cancer. He underwent several painful operations without anesthesia in an attempt to remove the disease. He was asked if he wanted to be bound, but he pointed to his crucifix and replied, “This is the strongest bond—this will hold me better than any ropes could.” He died at the age of 58.

St. Joseph’s relics rest in the reliquary chapel of the Basilica, and his image is used here with permission from

St. Joseph of Leonessa, who helped the poor, preached peace, and served enslaved Christians, pray for us!

Joseph of Leonissa, OFM Cap. (RM)

Born in Leonissa near Otricoli in 1556; died in Italy in February 4, 1612; beatified in 1737 by Clement XII; canonized by Benedict XIV in 1745. At age 18, Eufranius professed himself as a Capuchin and took the name Joseph. He was always mild, humble, chaste, charitable, obedient, patient, and penitential to a heroic degree. With the utmost fervor and on the most perfect motive he endeavored to glorify God in all his actions.

Three days each week he fasted on bread and water and passed entire Lenten seasons in the same manner. His bed was hard boards, with the trunk of a vine as his pillow. He found joy in chastisement and humiliations, identifying himself with the sufferings of Jesus. He looked upon himself as the basest of sinners, and said that God indeed, by His infinite mercy, had preserved him from grievous crimes, but that by his sloth, ingratitude, and infidelity to the divine grace, he deserved to have been abandoned by God. The sufferings of Christ were his favorite meditations. He usually preached with a crucifix in his hands and the fire of the Holy Spirit in his words.

In 1587, he was sent to Turkey as a missioner, primarily to tend to the Christian galley-slaves. He contracted the pestilence but recovered. He converted many apostates, one of whom was a pasha. By preaching the faith to the Islamics, he incurred the wrath of the Turkish law and was twice imprisoned and tortured. The second time he was condemned to death. He did not die, so he was banished instead.

Upon his return to Italy, he continued to preach. To complete his sacrifice, he suffered much at the end of his life from a painful cancer. He underwent two operations (without anesthesia) without the least groan or complaint, except the repetition of, "Holy Mary, pray for us miserable, afflicted sinners." When someone said before the operation that he ought to be restrained, he pointed to the crucifix in his hand and said, "This is the strongest band; this will hold me unmoved better than any cords could do." The operation was unsuccessful and he died at age 58. Many miracles were reported in the acts of his beatification (Benedictines, Husenbeth).

In art, Saint Joseph is always shown with Saint Fidelis of Sigmaringen, OFM Cap. Both are old Capuchins who were canonized on the same day. Saint Fidelis tramples on Heresy and an angel carries the palm of martyrdom (Roeder).