The Saints Who Levitated: Extraordinary and Concrete Miracles

The Saints Who Levitated: Extraordinary and Concrete MiraclesThe Saints Who Levitated: Extraordinary and Concrete Miracles

Carl Sagan once said, “Extraordinary claims necessary extraordinary evidence.” Levitation is an extraordinary claim, is ensuring. It is too a claim that is very concrete: it is something anyone can observe quickly if it arises. But unlike incorruption, its effects are not lasting, so we have to rely on eyewitness accounts.

As with all claims of the superhuman, the Church has been on guard against exaggeration or manufacturing. Having direct testimony from the person who levitated, or from those who evidenced the person levitating, is imperative — and even then, the Church keenly examines the reliability and motivations of evidences. An lesson of this kind of investigation can be found in claims about St. Francis of Assisi.

Did St. Francis of Assisi Levitate?

St. Bonaventure was born in 1221, five years before Francis died. He entered the Order of Friars Minor( the Franciscans) and became the order’s seventh leader. While principally known as a philosopher, Bonaventure likewise wrote about his order’s founder, including the claim that St. Francis was often concluded floating in the air during spiritual euphoriums. Reports from last-minute novelists echoed and extended on these contends, saying that St. Francis would fly to the treetops and sometimes into the sky, where he could scarcely be seen.

The difficulty is that in 1245( nineteen times after he had died ), a detailed investigation into Francis’s life had been made by the Church. Jurisdiction interviewed many people who knew him, and nothing of them mentioned levitation. So, either St. Bonaventure had access to information that have not endured, or the stories of levitation were an invention that Bonaventure heard and recited as information. We are often led to believe that beings before the modern era, especially in the Church, were readily misled or indifferent to happenings, but the Church has, throughout her record, referred the best methods available to her to get at the truth of miracles.

Rarely were the process of developing these asserts due to deception: instead, pious columnists passed on legends that emerged from those dedicated to the saints. Given this blueprint, should we dismiss all claims of levitation in the lives of the saints? No, it seems not.

This article is from The Catholic Guide to Miracles: Separating the Authentic from the Counterfeit.

St. Teresa of Avila

There is good reason to believe that St. Teresa of Avila levitated on a number of occasions. Her levitations were witnessed repeatedly by many beings. We also have the saint’s own accounts: she described the experience in her autobiography. Although she preferred not to discuss such matters, she wrote the book under submission to her superior. Now she outlines how she repelled these raptures that sometimes led to levitation 😛 TAGEND

These influences are very striking. One of them is the manifestation of the Lord’s mighty power: as we are unable to resist His Majesty’s will, either in soul or in person, and are not our own masters, we realize that, nonetheless irksome this truth may be, there is One stronger than ourselves, and that these advocates are gave by Him, and that we, of ourselves, can do absolutely nothing. This imprints in us immense meeknes. Indeed, I be recognized that in me it developed immense dread — at first a unspeakable panic. One ascertains one’s body being face-lift up from the anchor; and although the tone gleans it after itself, and if no fight is offered does so extremely gently, one does not lose consciousness — at least, I myself have had sufficient to enable me to realize that I was being promoted up. The dignity of Him Who can do this is manifested in such a way that the whisker stands on end, and there is produced a great fear of upsetting so great a God, but a anxiety staggered by the deepest love, recently enkindled, for One Who, as we accompany, has so deep a beloved for so loathsome a worm that He seems not to be satisfied by literally sucking the person to Himself, but will also have the body, mortal though it is, and befouled as is its clay by all the piques it has committed.

The Life of Teresa of Jesus: The Autobiography of Teresa of Avila, trans. and ed. E. Allison Peers, from the critical edition of P. Silverio de Santa Teresa, C.D .,

Bishop Diego de Yepes knew her well and wrote one of her countless early biographies. One period, after receiving Communion from him through the grille at the convent, she started to rise. The bishop recorded her pleas as she clutched at the bars to stop her ascent 😛 TAGEND

Lord, for a thing of so little consequence as is my being bereft of this favour of Thine, do not permit a beast so repugnant as I am to be taken for a holy woman.

Fray Diego de Yepes, Vida de Santa Teresa de Jesus( Toledo, 1530 ).

There are similar anecdotes told by nuns who recognized St. Teresa spontaneously levitate. After the events, she would require them to never be talking about it, but later, under obedience to higher authorities during the Church’s investigation into her life, they described the incidents. For her persona, St. Teresa was greatly embarrassed by her levitations and prayed that they would stop, and by all histories they lessened enormously in her last-minute life.

St. Joseph of Cupertino

Perhaps the most famous levitating saint is Joseph of Cupertino( 1603-1663 ). Joseph had a very difficult childhood. Today he probably would therefore be diagnosed with a psychiatric disease of some kind. He was apparently not intelligent and was given the nickname “the open mouth” because he so often looked into infinite with his cavity agape. Meanwhile, perhaps due to his limitations and others’ response to them, he developed a bad temper. To determine difficulties worse, his father died when Joseph was quite young, and his mother may have been abusive toward him.

Joseph wanted to join the Franciscans, but due to his lack of education, they would not make him. He was then accepted by the Capuchins on a trial basis, but they cast him apart after eight months. His mother did not want him back home, so she invited her brother, a Franciscan monk, to make him as a servant at his convent. Her brother agreed and earmarked Joseph to care for livestock. Over time, Joseph’s temper melted, and he started doing better with his production — well enough for the Franciscans to allow him to study to become a priest. He was anointed in 1628.

After his ordination, Joseph undertook many punishments, including stringent fasting, often feeing solid food only twice per week. Then he started going to get spiritual ecstasies where reference is said Mass or looked at devotional bronzes. During these raptures, he often levitated a few cases inches to a few feet off the sand. His levitations were so frequent that parties started coming to see him for entertainment; during the investigation of his cause for sainthood, powers buttressed at least seventy occasions where reference is levitated in the presence of witnesses.

One noticeable sample happened during a trip to Italy from the Spanish ambassador. The representative had seen Joseph in his monastic cadre and was so impressed that he wanted to return with his wife. Joseph entered the church where the couple hoped to meet him and, upon encounter a bronze of Mary, hoisted ten hoof into the air, flew over the crowd to the statue, cried, flew back to the door, and returned home. The Church later take depositions from a number of people who were there that day, and their fibs are compatible.

There were many other instances that were investigated in a similar way, including one in front of Pope Urban VIII. It was customary to kiss the pope’s feet at the time, as a ratify of adoration to the Holy Father. When Joseph did so, he rose into the air and was able to come back down only when his superior sought him to do so. Pope Urban VIII said that if Joseph died during the pope’s lifetime, he would testify to the levitation that happened in his presence.

After a occasion, Joseph’s levitations became a problem for the monastery. Some believe the chapters were devilish, and he was castigated for magic and investigated by the Inquisition. They transmitted him to a convent in Assisi for statement. He was sought not to say public Spates and to cease public figures absolutely. But his levitations continued in the convent, and he was soon demoted to his cell and not even allowed to eat with the other friars. Joseph utilized this isolation to draw closer to God in prayer. Eventually the inquest determined that he was not practicing witchcraft and cause him return to regular ascetic life. Joseph of Cupertino died in 1663 at the age of sixty and was canonized in 1767 by Pope Clement XIII.

St. Mary of Jesus Crucified( Mariam Baouardy)

A more recent example of levitation is St. Mary of Jesus Crucified( 1846-1878 ), who was canonized on May 17, 2015, by Pope Francis. Her life story was covered in the period on healings.

On June 22, 1873, the saint was missing at supper, and her companion nuns went looking for her. They felt her offset on top of a large lime tree, singing. The mistress of newcomers her to come down without hurting herself, and she complied immediately, igniting contact chapters with her paws as she swam gently to the ground. The nuns documented seven more parties when she levitated. As customary in these cases, some believed her of deceit, so they agent on and watched her, but no natural explain could be discovered.

Later a nun certified of the lime-tree incident, “She had taken deemed of the tip of a little branch that a chick would have bent; and from there, in an instant, “shes had” been eliminated on high.” A pastor wrote to the neighbourhood bishop about the levitations 😛 TAGEND

Sister Mary used to raise herself to the top of the trees by the tips-off of the sprigs: she would take her scapular in one handwriting, and with the other the end of a small branch next to the leaves, and after a few moments she would slink along the outside edge of the tree to its top. Once up there, she would remain harbouring on to disciplines naturally too weak to bear a person of her weight.

Amedee Brunot, Mariam, the Little Arab: Sister Mary of Jesus Crucified( 1846-1878)( Eugene, OR: Carmel of Maria Regina, 1984 ).


There’s a wonderful innocence, even childlikeness, in the stories of Sr. Mary’s levitations. She would casually swing from division to sprig, all while singing of God’s love. By the end of their own lives, watches reliably was demonstrated by eight such episodes, all in the courtyard of her convent. We can see how a simple, loyal charity of God can sometimes cause us to overcome our shortcomings. Usually this happens interiorly through the transformation of our feelings by charm, but sometimes, in extraordinary circumstances, it can happen outwardly through our bodies.

What purpose might God have in causing some ecstatics to levitate during petition or praise of God? These levitations may prefigure the rising of the living at the second coming of Christ, detailed in 1 Thessalonians 😛 TAGEND

For the Lord himself, with a word of word, with the expression of an archangel and with the cornet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus we shall always be with the Lord.( 1 Thess. 4:16 -17)

One could also recognize levitation as symbolic of rising above the tainted life, rising above guilt when recruiting a profound reverie of God that attracts the tone heavenward. Levitation is a very concrete miracle that responds to as a signal of organization with God, and calls the watches to seek the same.

Editor’s note: This article is adapted from the opening chapter in Mr. Blai’s upcoming volume, The Catholic Guide to Miracles: Separating the Authentic from the Counterfeit. It is scheduled to be exhausted on May 25 th and can be preordered at your favorite bookseller or online through Sophia Institute Press.

image: St. Philip Neri in levitation, fresco by uncharted( 1600 ca .) from Chiesa Nuova,( Rome)/ Polvo2 020/ Shutterstock.com

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