Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Dr. Giuseppe Moscati, saint (1880-1927)

"Not often is someone with a professional degree from a modern secular university declared a saint. Moreover, it is positively earth-shattering when an internationally acclaimed scientist becomes a certified miracle-worker."

Saint Giuseppe (Joseph) Moscati could've easily been one my own professors. Just look at the picture! But he's no ordinary man: he's holy, he's faithful to prayer, a daily communicant, and an excellent professional, devoted to the duties of his state in life.

But he is a little known saint, so my finding him was probably another of God's attempt at humouring me today.

Dr. Moscati graduated with honours from the University of Naples. He then joined the Hospital for the Incurables and eventually became an administrator. This dedicated doctor worked day and night tirelessly for his patients, he also trained interns and conducted medical research. He was highly accomplished; his research on cholera was used by the city officials to properly manage an outbreak. In total, he wrote 27 scientific publications from the time he earned his degree in 1903 to the year 1916.

Dr. Moscati understood the need to bring Christ into his daily work. Christ was intimately linked to his calling as a doctor. He paid close attention to the state of his patient's soul as well as his body, sometimes even bringing the patient back to the sacraments. The Catholic understanding of body and soul clearly informed his understanding of illness and medicine. He saw Confession and Communion as the "first medicine". To help the poor, Dr. Moscati often donated his medical services or paid for his patients' prescriptions.

There were witnesses to Dr. Moscati's miraculous works. Some said that he could accurately diagnose and prescribe for any patient merely by hearing a list of his symptoms, and that he was responsible for impossible cures.

Dr. Moscati was known to place a certain crucifix at his autopsy room, a crucifix inscribed with Hosea 13:14, "Ero mors tua, o mors" (O death, I will be thy death).


In the busyness of clinical training, and all the office politics involved, it's very easy to lose the bigger picture. It's easy to lose the sense that you're serving a Higher Purpose; instead, you feel like you're just another pawn, another robot, in a world that does not know Christ. And if you're a medical student, whose status is practically below the hospital's garbage-man, it's even more difficult to constantly see yourself as a disciple-in-training by Christ Himself.

Dr. Moscati is a relevant example of living in the world but not of the world, of being holy but still being yourself, in your world, doing your career. I need to be reminded of this because oftentimes I feel like I'm leading a life that doesn't look very saintly; the med student's life can be very mundane, full of confusion, and at times rather degrading. I don't feel heroic at all. I don't feel mystical. I don't feel divinely surreal. Heck, I'm buried in piles of notes and journals, and none of them is otherworldly at the slightest! No sign that points to God, and believe me, you can easily lose the belief that you're still working for Him.

Danielle Rose---what an amazing musician!---has something to say on the issue:

Oh I thought I'd be heroic and inspiring.
I wanna do all for you, the greatest sacrifice.
Like all the saints who've gone before me,
I tried to prove my love for you,
And so to gain the prize.
I thought I'd be a martyr like Cecilia
I hoped I'd disappear like St Therese
Or wear a hidden crown of thorns like Rose of Lima
To heal the sick and raise the dead.

When you hung upon the Cross looking at me,
You didn't die so I would try to be somebody else,
You died so I could be the saint that is just me.

Thank you, Dr. Moscati, saint, for showing us how to imitate Christ by being the best of ourselves, according to our callings.

"Charity changed the world, not science... very few men are remembered because of science; but anyone can be an everlasting symbol of life eternal, where death is nothing but a step, a metamorphosis towards a higher place, if they will dedicate themselves to good."
-St. Giuseppe Moscati


  1. My husband and I just returned from a trip to Italy. We stopped by his church in Naples called Gesu Nuovo. We were impressed by the number of people coming to pray to him and touch the statue of his hand while praying. We are Catholics, but were not aware of this wonderful saint. My husband who is a scientist himself came close to the statue and his sepulchral and prayed for me. The next day when I looked in the mirror to put on my contact lenses I saw that a growth under my eye lid diagnosed as an oil cyst by my dermatologist in the USA was gone! The dermatologist in my second follow up visit a month earlier refused to remove it fearing that it was too close to the eye. The cyst was growing larger and it was going to eventually interfere with my vision. Words cannot describe how I feel...
    Thank you, Dr. Moscati, saint, for bringing our faith stronger, for showing your prescence and kindness.
    Karen Karras, Pompano Beach, FL USA

    1. Hi Karen! What a beautiful testimony! Praise God for His assistance through one of His chosen, Dr. Moscati! Blessings for you and your husband! x


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