Carl Sagan once said, “Extraordinary claims involve astonishing evidence.” Levitation is an extraordinary claim, to be sure. It is also a claim that is very concrete: it is something anyone can observe readily if it follows. But unlike incorruption, its effects are not lasting, so we have to rely on eyewitness accounts.
As with all claims of the miraculous, the Church has been on guard against exaggeration or fabrication. Having direct testimony from the person who levitated, or from all the persons who evidenced the person levitating, is imperative — and even then, the Church keenly examines the reliability and motives of observers. An pattern 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 chiefly known as a philosopher, Bonaventure likewise wrote about his order’s founder, including the claim that St. Francis was often noted floating in the air during spiritual euphoriums. Reports from last-minute scribes echoed and expanded on these allegations, saying that St. Francis would surge 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 man had been made by the Church. Dominion interviewed many people who knew him, and nothing of them mentioned levitation. So, either St. Bonaventure had access to substances that have not lived, or the stories of levitation were an invention that Bonaventure heard and reiterated as information. We are often led to believe that beings before the modern epoch, particularly in the Church, were readily misled or apathetic to facts, but the Church has, throughout her autobiography, related the best methods available to her to get at the truth of miracles.
Rarely were the development of such argues due to deception: rather, pious scribes passed on fibs that is evident from those devoted to the saints. Given this decoration, 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 openings. Her levitations were witnessed frequently by numerous people. We also have the saint’s own reports: she described the experience in her autobiography. Although she preferred not to discuss such matters, she wrote the book under observance to her superior. Here she is shown how she defied these raptures that sometimes led to levitation 😛 TAGEND
These upshots 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 spirit or in person, and are not our own captains, we realize that, nonetheless irksome this truth may be, there is One stronger than ourselves, and that these spares are granted by Him, and that we, of ourselves, can do absolutely nothing. This imprints in us immense modesty. Indeed, I be recognized that in me it developed immense nervousnes — at first a unspeakable fright. One considers one’s body being promoted up from the ground; and although the intent describes it after itself, and if no resist is offered does so terribly gently, one does not lose consciousness — at least, I myself have had sufficient to enable me to realize that I was being lifted up. The dignity of Him Who can do this is manifested in such a way that the fuzz stands on end, and there is produced a great fear of upsetting so great a God, but a panic overtaken by the deepest love, recently enkindled, for One Who, as we watch, has so deep a enjoy for so loathsome a insect that He seems not to be satisfied by literally selecting 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 profiles. One meter, 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 appalling 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 met St. Teresa spontaneously levitate. After the events, she would dictate them to never be talking about it, but last-minute, under reverence to higher authorities during the Church’s investigation into her life, they described the incidents. For her segment, St. Teresa was greatly humiliated by her levitations and prayed that they would stop, and by all chronicles they declined vastly 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 have been diagnosed with a psychiatric malady of some kind. He was apparently not intelligent and was given the nickname “the open mouth” because he so often stared into room with his speak agape. Meanwhile, perhaps due to his limitations and others’ response to them, he developed a bad temper. To acquire significances 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, there is no way to take him. He was then accepted by the Capuchins on a test basis, but they transport him apart after eight months. His mother did not want him back home, so she questioned her friend, a Franciscan monk, to take him as a servant at his monastery. Her brother agreed and delegate Joseph to care for livestock. Over time, Joseph’s temper melted, and he started doing better with his labour — well enough for the Franciscans to allow him to study to become a priest. He was ordained in 1628.
After his ordination, Joseph undertook countless penances, including thorough fasting, generally gobbling solid food only twice per week. Then he started going to get spiritual euphoriums where reference is said Mass or looked at devotional statues. During these raptures, he often levitated a few inches to a few feet off the foot. His levitations were so frequent that parties started coming to see him for amusement; during the investigation of his cause for sainthood, powers demonstrated at least seventy instances when he levitated in the presence of witnesses.
One remarkable example has happened in a tour to Italy from the Spanish ambassador. The envoy had inspected Joseph in his celibate 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 experience a effigy of Mary, promoted ten foot into the air, flew over the crowd to the statue, prayed, pilot back to the door, and returned home. The Church last-minute took 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 signaling 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 dictated 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 epoch, Joseph’s levitations became a problem for the monastery. Some think the episodes were demonic, and he was betrayed for magic and investigated by the Inquisition. They routed him to a convent in Assisi for observance. He was ordered not to say public Masses and to cease public expressions absolutely. But his levitations continued in the monastery, and he was soon demoted to his cadre and not even allowed to eat with the other friars. Joseph utilized this isolation to draw closer to God in petition. Eventually the inquest determined that he was not practicing witchcraft and let him return to regular monastic being. 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 chapter on healings.
On June 22, 1873, the saint was missing at supper, and her chap nuns went looking for her. They concluded her balanced on top of a large lime tree, singing. The mistress of novices dictated her to come down without hurting herself, and she complied immediately, illuminating contact fields with her paws as she floated gently to the ground. The nuns documented seven more opportunities when she levitated. As normal in these cases, some supposed her of deception, so they snooped on and watched her, but no natural cause 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 bird would have bent; and from there, in an instant, she had been lifted on high.” A priest wrote to the regional bishop about the levitations 😛 TAGEND
Sister Mary used to raise herself to the top of the trees by the tips-off of the chapters: she would take her scapular in one paw, 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 viewing on to diverges commonly 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 shaking from branch to branch, all while singing of God’s love. By the end of her life, watches reliably attests to eight such occurrences, all in the courtyard of her monastery. We can see how a simple, faithful beloved of God can sometimes cause us to overcome our limitations. Typically this happens interiorly through the conversion of our souls by mercy, but sometimes, in extraordinary circumstances, it can happen superficially through our bodies.
What purpose might God have in causing some euphorics to levitate during devotion or praise of God? These levitations may prefigure the increase in the of the living at the second coming of Christ, are outlined in 1 Thessalonians 😛 TAGEND
For the Lord himself, with a word of bidding, with the utter 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 witnes levitation as figurative of rising above the infected macrocosm, rising above sin when recruiting a profound observation of God that gathers the force heavenward. Levitation is a very concrete miracle that responds to as a signaling of union with God, and calls the observers to seek the same.
Editor’s note: This article is adapted from the opening chapter in Mr. Blai’s upcoming work, The Catholic Guide to Miracles: Separating the Authentic from the Counterfeit. It must still be liberated on May 25 th and is likely to be preordered at your favorite bookseller or online through Sophia Institute Press.
image: St. Philip Neri in levitation, fresco by unknown( 1600 ca .) from Chiesa Nuova,( Rome)/ Polvo2 020/ Shutterstock.com
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