Carl Sagan formerly said, “Extraordinary claims expect fantastic evidence.” Levitation is an extraordinary claim, to be sure. It is also a claim that is very concrete: it is something anyone can observe quickly if it comes. But unlike incorruption, its effects are not lasting, so we have to rely on eyewitness accounts.
As with all claims of the magical, the Church has been on guard against exaggeration or manufacturing. Having direct testimony from those individuals who levitated, or from those who witnessed the person levitating, is imperative — and even then, the Church keenly examines the reliability and incitements of observers. An precedent 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 largely known as a philosopher, Bonaventure too wrote about his order’s founder, including the claim that St. Francis was often discovered moving in the air during spiritual ecstasies. Reports from later writers repetition and extended on these contends, saying that St. Francis would rise to the treetops and sometimes into the sky, where he had been able to scarcely be seen.
The difficulty is that in 1245( nineteen years 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 none of them mentioned levitation. So, either St. Bonaventure had access to materials that has not been able to lived, or the stories of levitation were an invention that Bonaventure heard and reiterated as information. We are often led to believe that people before the modern epoch, especially in the Church, were easily misled or inattentive to realities, but the Church has, throughout her history, exercised the best methods available to her to get at the truth of miracles.
Rarely were the development of such asserts due to deception: preferably, righteous writers pass away tales that emerged from those dedicated to the saints. Given this pattern, 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 instances. Her levitations were watched frequently by many parties. We too have the saint’s own histories: she described the experience in her autobiography. Although she preferred not to discuss such matters, she wrote the book under obedience to her superior. Here she describes 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 spirit or in torso, and are not our own surmounts, we “ve realized that”, nonetheless irksome this truth may be, there is One stronger than ourselves, and that these favors are granted by Him, and that we, of ourselves, can do absolutely nothing. This imprints in us enormous meeknes. Indeed, I confess that in me it created enormous anxiety — at first a awful horror. One attends one’s body being promoted up from the foot; and although the character attracts it after itself, and if no fight is offered does so unusually 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 splendor 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 staggered by the deepest love, freshly enkindled, for One Who, as we interpret, has so deep a charity for so loathsome a worm that He seems not to be satisfied by literally drawing the feeling to Himself, but will likewise 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 numerous early biographies. 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 human so debased 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 seek them to never to speak of it, but last-minute, under reverence to higher authorities during the Church’s investigation into her life, they described the incidents. For her percentage, St. Teresa was greatly embarrassed by her levitations and cried that they would stop, and by all notes they declined immensely 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 condition of some kind. He was apparently not intelligent and was given the nickname “the open mouth” because he so often gazed into opening with his cheek agape. Meanwhile, perhaps due to his limitations and others’ response to them, he developed a bad temper. To stimulate problems 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 test basis, but they send him apart after eight months. His mother did not want him back home, so she expected her brother, a Franciscan monk, to make him as international civil servants at his monastery. Her brother agreed and assigned Joseph to care for livestock. Over time, Joseph’s temper mellowed, and he started doing better with his wield — well enough for the Franciscans to allow him to study to become a priest. He was anointed in 1628.
After his ordination, Joseph undertook countless punishments, including strict fasting, usually munching solid food only twice per week. Then he started going to get spiritual ecstasies when he said Mass or look back devotional statues. During these raptures, he often levitated a few cases inches to a few feet off the grind. His levitations were so frequent that beings started coming to see him for entertainment; during the investigation of his cause for sainthood, approvals proved at least seventy parties when he levitated in the presence of witnesses.
One striking instance has happened in a trip to Italy from the Spanish ambassador. The ambassador had inspected Joseph in his ascetic cell 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 examine a effigy of Mary, elevated ten hoof into the air, flew over the crowd to the statue, prayed, flew back to the door, and returned home. The Church later took depositions from a number of people who were there that day, and their floors 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 required 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 meter, Joseph’s levitations became a problem for the monastery. Some envisage the escapades were demonic, and he was castigated for sorcery and investigated by the Inquisition. They transported him to a convent in Assisi for observance. He was not to say public Heaps and to cease public looks altogether. But his levitations continued in the convent, and he was soon relegated to his cadre and not even allowed to eat with the other friars. Joseph use this isolation to draw closer to God in prayer. Eventually the inquisition determined that he was not practicing witchcraft and make him return to regular ascetic 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 peer nuns went looking for her. They noticed her balanced on top of a large lime tree, singing. The mistress of novices told her to come down without hurting herself, and she complied immediately, igniting impressive branches with her feet as she hovered gently to the ground. The nuns documented seven more opportunities when she levitated. As usual in these cases, some believed her of guile, so they saw on and watched her, but no natural cause could be discovered.
Later a nun testified of the lime-tree incident, “She had taken viewed of the tip of a little branch that a fowl would have bent; and from there, in an instant, she had been lifted on high.” A pastor 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 limbs: she would take her scapular in one side, 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 will be retained accommodating on to chapters ordinarily 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 fluctuating from field to discipline, all while singing of God’s love. By the end of her life, evidences reliably attested to eight such incidents, all in the courtyard of her monastery. We can see how a simple, faithful compassion of God can sometimes cause us to overcome our limiteds. Typically this happens interiorly through the conversion of our someones by goodnes, but sometimes, in extraordinary circumstances, it can happen outwardly through our bodies.
What purpose might God have in causing some joyfuls to levitate during prayer or praise of God? These levitations may prefigure the increase in the of the living at the second coming of Christ, detailed in 1 Thessalonians 😛 TAGEND
For the Lord himself, with a word of require, with the expres 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 encounter levitation as figurative of rising above the distorted world, rising above blasphemy when enrolling a profound reverie of God that drags the being heavenward. Levitation is a very concrete miracle that serves as a signaling of consolidation 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 work, The Catholic Guide to Miracles: Separating the Authentic from the Counterfeit. It is scheduled to be released 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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