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Observations placeholder

Joseph of Cupertino - The incident at the Rosella friary near Copertino



Type of Spiritual Experience


Friar Herbert Thurston was a Catholic priest, a member of the Jesuit order and an historian.  He wrote extensively on Catholic mysticism and psychic phenomena and was a member of the Society for Psychical Research.  He was also widely read on this subject.  He is described as ‘an honest skeptic’., and once said ‘the role of Devil’s advocate is a thankless one and does not make for popularity’.

A description of the experience

Friar Herbert Thurston - The Physical Phenomenon of Mysticism

…when Mr. Andrew Lang and other students of psychic phenomena discuss the subject of mystical levitations it is nearly always St. Joseph of Copertino to whom they make appeal in this connection. Certainly, if we may trust the published narratives of his Life, his is by far the most astounding case of levitation of which we have any record. It would be impossible to give a detailed account of his elevations and flights, which seem to have been observed on more than a hundred different occasions. It is possible, however, that there may be considerable exaggeration in what the witnesses tell us of an incident at the Rosella friary near Copertino, thus related by his biographer Pastrovicchi. It occurred when a Calvary was being erected there by the friars.

Two crosses were already placed, but ten persons with united effort could not raise the third which was 54 palms high (about 36 feet) and very heavy. On seeing this, Joseph, full of ardour flew about eighty paces (70 yards) from the door of the friary to the cross, lifted it as easily as if it were a straw and placed it in the hole prepared for it. These crosses were the object of his special devotion, and from a distance of ten or twelve paces, he, drawn by his crucified Saviour, would rise to one of the arms on the top of the cross.

The source of the experience

Joseph of Cupertino

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items


Activities and commonsteps