St Giuseppe Moscati (1880-1927)

Feast day: 16th November

Doctor, Scientist, Professor

I could effuse about this truly saintly man for hours. At a time when the church was already recognizing the dangers of modernism and many academic institutions had fallen foul of a rabid and aggressive secularism, Saint Giuseppe Moscati was practicing the art of medicine with “unparalleled goodness”: a noble apostolate.

This incredible saint was influenced heavily in his formative years by his father’s piety and intellectual gifts, but also by his experiences of trying to care for his older brother who sustained a head trauma following a fall from his horse. He quickly recognized that, without religion, medicine becomes “cold”, because it fails to treat the soul and touch the hearts of patients.

Saint Giuseppe Moscati gave tirelessly of his humanity and saw his methods of practicing medicine as the ideal opportunity to live out the Catholic Faith. Underlying all of this, he recognized the many material challenges that people faced and would often treat people for free or even provide money along with his prescriptions to the most destitute and poor.

Saint Giuseppe Moscati also demonstrated heroism of a different kind when, in April 1906, he volunteered to help evacuate a nursing home during the eruptions of Mount Vesuvius, narrowly avoiding harm to himself when the roof collapsed. He also treated 3000 soldiers during World War I and went beyond the call of duty in aid of sufferers during the 1911 cholera outbreak.

Things could have been very different though. For he possessed a formidable intellect and was at the forefront of biochemistry, which brought him significant renown, even beyond Naples. A professorial chair and academic career would have surely been within his grasp had he desired them. But alas, this was a man whose very corpus swelled with charity and whose persona brimmed with shear delight in his work for the poor and the practice of his faith. Indeed, there can be no doubt that his deep devotion to the sacraments, and in particular his desire for daily Mass, availed him of a constant remedy and enriched his soul with goodness and pious intent.

“In all your works, look to Heaven, to the eternity of life and of the soul, [and in orienting yourself thus], your activity will be inspired for the good.”

St Giuseppe Moscati, pray for us!

– written by a young doctor