Pope Benedict XIV - De Servorum Dei Beatifications – On the upliftings from the ground and prolonged flights of Joseph of Cupertino
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
Prosper Lambertini, afterwards Pope Benedict XIV who is the supreme authority on evidence and procedure in canonization causes, had personally studied all the details of the case of Joseph of Cupertino. When the cause came up for discussion before the Congregation of Rites, he was Promotor Fidei (popularly known as the Devil's Advocate), and his "animadversions" upon the evidence submitted are said to have been of a most searching character. None the less we must believe that these criticisms were answered to his own complete satisfaction, for not only was it he himself who, when Pope, published in 1753 the decree of Beatification, but in his great work De Servorum Dei Beatifications, etc., he speaks as follows:
Whilst I discharged the office of Promotor of the Faith the cause of the venerable Servant of God, Joseph of Copertino came up for discussion in the congregation of Sacred Rites, which after my retirement was brought to a favourable conclusion, and in this eye-witnesses of unchallengeable integrity gave evidence of the famous upliftings from the ground and prolonged flights of the aforesaid Servant of God when rapt in ecstasy.
There can be no doubt that Benedict XIV a critically minded man, who knew the value of evidence and who had studied the original depositions as probably no one else had studied them, believed that the witnesses of St.Joseph's levitations had really seen what they professed to have seen. It is also certain, as Mr. Lang points out that these witnesses made their depositions upon oath at Osimo, Assisi and other places in 1665-6, that is to say only two years after the Saint's death.