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ST. Giuseppe Moscati
St. Giuseppe Moscati was born in 1880 and died at the relatively young age of 47. As an adult he had felt drawn to and embraced celibacy, thereby being more available to his patients. It was not simply for professional reasons though; he felt celibacy to be part of his divine calling. Similarly, his frugal lifestyle was not the result of eccentricity; it too was an integral part of his calling, as he saw it, to live out his Christian vocation—to be in the world but not of it. Needless to say, his professional eminence was lightly worn with his students and colleagues. On occasion, he would gladly state where any true ‘eminence’ really lay. He was, in short, a good man, a doctor well-loved by the people of Naples, a valued colleague and teacher in the medical fraternity of that city, but, in the end, he was, and this is the most important part, a holy man.
He died as he lived, quietly. He passed away sitting in a chair with his arms crossed. The only thing of note was that it was Holy Week. He was laid to rest on Holy Thursday, a fitting day given his devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. It was also apt from another perspective. All his life he had seen in the broken bodies of those he served another Body; as he was to say to anyone who asked why he served the sick, it was in their faces that he saw the Face of Christ. The words spoken at the Last Supper—‘This is my Body’—were, in the life of Giuseppe Moscati, translated into a practical mysticism that pervaded the consulting rooms and hospital wards through which he moved. For him, there was no disjuncture between what took place each day at the early morning Mass he attended and later that same day in his medical practice, between the man attending to the needs of the body and the one attending to those of the soul.
On 25 October 1987, Pope John Paul II canonized Giuseppe Moscati. It was fitting that as this layman was being raised to the heavenly altars, the Seventh General Assembly of the Synod of the Bishops was taking place at Rome. Its deliberations were on the theme of: The Vocation and Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World. In this new saint, the Church had just been given an outstanding witness to both.
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