Levitation and Ecstatic flights in the lives of the Saints



Levitation is one of the most frequently mentioned phenomena in the lives of the Saints. Many more Saints have experienced this marvel in addition to those who will be mentioned below. Some more notable Saints are St Benedict Joseph Labre, St. Angela of Brescia, St. Antoinette of Florence, St. Arey, St. Peter Celestine, St. Colette, St. Margaret of Hungary, St. Stephen of Hungary, St. Mary of Egypt, St. Joseph Oriol, Bl. Bentivolio Buoni, St Francis of Paola, St. John of St. Facond and St Martin de Porres.

St Joseph of Cupertino (1603-1663)
Certainly one of the Saints who is best known for levitating during prayer is St. Joseph of Cupertino, who experienced so many levitations that were witnessed by his brothers in the Franciscan Order and others that he is regarded as the patron saint airplane passengers. In Fr. Angelo Pastrovicchi's official biography of the Saint, which was first published in 1767, the author states that:
“Not only during the sixteen years of the Saint's stay at Grottella, but during his whole life, these ecstasies and flights were so frequent, as attested in the acts of the Process of beatification, that for more than thirty-five years his superiors would not permit him to take part in the exercises in the choir and the refectory or in processions, lest he disturb the community."

St Joseph was often enraptured into remarkable levitations, often being carried away by God for some distances. In the records of his official beatification process [Acta Sanctorum], seventy of his levitations and ecstatic flights are recorded.

One Christmas Eve the Saint invited some shepherds to join in celebrating the birth of the Saviour. When they started to play bagpipes and flutes, the Saint let out a cry of joy and flew a considerable distance through the air to the high altar. He remained in his rapture about a quarter of an hour. Although he was in the air leaning over several lighted candles, his garments were not affected. As usual, all present were astounded by the miracle.

During a profession ceremony at Cupertino, the Saint, dressed in a surplice, suddenly rose to the height of the pulpit and remained for some time with outstretched arms and bent knees. -Imagine the amazement of the religious and the congregation! One Holy Thursday, while praying before a representation of the holy sepulchre which was situated above the high altar and lit with many candles and lamps, the Saint rose in the air and flew to the altar. Without touching any of the decorations, he remained for a time until the superior ordered his return.
Another time on hearing a priest say: "Father Joseph, how beautiful God has made Heaven," the Saint flew up and "rested" on the top branches of an olive tree. He remained there in a kneeling posi¬tion for half an hour while the branch which "supported" him swayed as lightly as if a small bird had perched on it."

Once while passing through Monopoli on his way to Naples, he was led by his fellow religious to the church of the monastery to see a new statue of St. Anthony of Padua. After spotting it from a distance, he suddenly flew to the statue and then returned to his former place. After the Inquisition heard of these marvels, they felt the need to investigate and commanded that the Saint say Mass in their presence at the Church of St. Gregory of Armenia, which belonged to the nuns of St. Ligorio. Suddenly the Saint rose with a loud cry from a corner and while praying, flew to the altar. He remained standing in the air, bending over the flowers and lighted candles with his arms spread in the form of a cross. The nuns cried in alarm that he would catch fire, but he returned to the floor unharmed.

Certainly the most prominent witnesses to the Saint's levitations was Pope Urban VIII. During the Saint's first stay in Rome he went with the Father General to visit the Pope. While bending over the feet of the Pontiff the Saint became enraptured and rose in the air until the Father General commanded that he return. The Pope marveled at the phenomenon and told the Father General that he himself would bear witness to the occurrence should the Saint die during his pontificate.

To satisfy the curiosity of the Spanish Ambassador to the Papal Court and his wife who went to Assisi on purpose to see St. Joseph, the Saint was told by Fr. Custos to go into the church and visit Our Lady's statue. Upon entering the church he looked toward the statue of the Immaculate Conception on an altar, and flew over the heads of those present, and remained in the air at the feet of the statue. After a few moments he flew back and then retired to his cell."

Occasionally the Saint's raptures lasted six or seven hours. A peculiar aspect was that, when a rapture overtook him at Holy Mass, he always resumed where he had left off. Another unusual aspect is that his garments were never disturbed during his many flights whether he travelled forward or backward, up or down. St Joseph of Cupertino was so on fire with the love of God that one could almost always draw him into an ecstatic levitation by simply speaking of the adorable love of God or the Blessed Virgin Mary, or causing him to contemplate a picture of Jesus or Mary.

St Gerard Majella (1726-1755)
Like St Joseph of Cupertino, St Gerard Majella was often enraptured into remarkable levitations, often being drawn away by God for some distances. It was sufficient for St Gerard Majella to think of the perfections of God, to contemplate the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity or that of the Incarnation, to cast his eyes upon a crucifix or a picture of the Blessed Virgin, to be in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament or even some wonder of creation.

The following are a few examples:
Gerard, intending to spend some days at Oliveto, received hospitality at the house of the archpriest Don Salvadore. One morning, Holy Mass was about to begin, and Gerard, who desired to communicate at it, did not appear. They called him, they knocked at his door, but there was no answer. At last they entered and found the seraphic brother kneeling in ecstasy, a crucifix in his right hand, the left hand laid on his breast, his face pale, his eyes half-closed. For more than half an hour, the household of the archpriest gazed in admiration at the ravishing spectacle.

This hospitable home had already been witness of a still more remarkable ecstasy, in which the servant of God was suspended without support in the air. It had taken place on the very morning of his arrival at Oliveto. Gerard had withdrawn to his room to pray. At the dinner hour, the archpriest went himself to invite him to dinner. But to his astonishment he found the brother ravished in ecstasy and raised about three feet from the ground. Filled with amazement, he withdrew, but returning shortly after, he found him in the same state. The whole household, all witnesses to the extraordinary event, unable to sit down to dinner, awaited the guest with tears of emotion. At last he appeared, his face all inflamed. "Please do not wait for me," he said to the archpriest. "I do not wish to inconvenience you." To preserve the memory of this rapture, the archpriest marked on the wall of the room the height to which he had seen the Saint elevated.

A similar prodigy was seen by all the people at Corato. On Good Friday, 1753, a picture representing Jesus Christ Crucified was carried in procession. When the procession entered the church of the Benedictines, Gerard was already inside engaged in prayer. As soon as he perceived the sacred image of the Saviour, an ecstatic transport seized him, and before the eyes of all, he was elevated to a considerable height from the ground, his eyes fixed on the picture.

Yet another occasion is the account of a blind beggar who lived in Caposele who played most charmingly on the flute. Seeing him one day at the gate of the convent, Gerard begged him to play a well-known Italian song: "In all things, oh my God, I wish your Will, not my own." Immediately, a rapture of divine love seized upon the holy religious, and he began to leap, repeating the words: "Your Will, oh my God, and not mine!" Then, suddenly raising his eyes toward Heaven, he was elevated in the air with the swiftness of an arrow, and there remained for some time ravished in ecstasy.

This reversal of the laws of gravity, this super natural agility, took the shape even of an ecstatic flight. Gerard was returning one day to Iliceto with two young companions. As they were passing before a chapel dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, he turned the conversation to that tender and compassionate Mother. Then he took a pencil and wrote, I know not what, on a scrap of paper, which he tossed up in the air as if it were a letter. At the same moment, his two companions beheld him rise in the air and fly with the rapidity and lightness of a bird to a distance of over three quarters of a mile. Afterwards, they never ceased to recount this prodigious fact of which they had been witnesses.

There were other times that the servant of God was favored with ecstatic flight. A pious person named Rosaria loved to relate that she had seen him one day carried up like a feather through the air, his arms extended. He flew thus for over three quarters of a mile, hastening to the convent to which he was called, no doubt, by some exercise of Rule or some desire of the Superior.

It is an intense love for God that draws the Saints ever closer to Him. In the last months of his life, Gerard sometimes heaved such sighs as to attract upon himself looks of astonishment. Father Cajone reproved him for thus drawing attention to himself, at which Gerard took the good Fathers hand and laid it upon his heart. The beating was so violent that after a few moments the Father asked him then how he was able to thus endure it. On a similar occasion, Gerard said to Dr. Santorelli, “If I were on a mountain, it seems to me that I would set fire to the world with these flames of love” then he took the Doctors hand and placed it upon his heart, which was beating with an unheard of fury, as if it were about to leap out of his breast.

St Paul of the Cross (1694-1775)
St Paul of the Cross, the holy founder of the Passionists was in the town of Latera, in the diocese of Montefiascone, and was in the sacristy of a church speaking with other priests when he became so inflamed with the love of God that he rose in the air, to the complete astonishment of his witnesses. Another time he was in a town on the isle of Elba giving a mission when, at the most fervent part of his sermon, he walked off the platform, through the air and over the heads of the people and then returned as though nothing unusual had taken place. One can only imagine the emotions felt by those who had witnessed such an unexpected display of the supernatural.

During the last years of his life the Saint was sitting in the sacristy of Sts. John and Paul Church in Rome and absorbed in holy conversation with a number of people when, as the deposition states:
"He began, according to his custom, to have his countenance lighted up, brilliant rays flashing from his face; then his whole body began to tremble; then, as I believe, he perceived that he was losing the control of his senses, he clung with both his hands to the arms of the chair, and leaned his shoulders on the back of it; as soon as he had done this, he began to rise, together with the chair, and that to such a height, that I think he must have risen at least to the height of five or six feet...in this state he continued a very long time in most sublime contemplation. Finally he returned to himself, and, as the rapture passed away, a slight tremor took place all over his body, and gradually the servant of God, with the chair, descended and rested on the ground."

St Gemma Galgani (1878-1903)
In more recent times there is also the story in the extraordinary life of St Gemma Galgani [the webmaster's favorite Saint!] when on a certain day Gemma was adoring Jesus on the crucifix while she was going about her household chores, when all of a sudden Jesus on the Cross came alive, and with one hand beckoned Gemma to come to Him, and then in a moment of love and joy, Gemma was raised off the ground and taken to Jesus, and embraced Him in an ecstasy of love. Those interested can read the entire story of Gemma's ecstatic flight to Jesus on the crucifix here.
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"My Mother [the Blessed Virgin Mary] is very different. If I bring Her flowers, She says She does not want them. If I offer Her cherries, She will not take them. When I ask Her then what She desires, She replies: 'I desire your heart, for I live on hearts.' -St Joseph of Cupertino

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

If god were to have created the universe, then he created the laws of physics to govern said universe. Therefore, levitation is an act of defiance against god.

Glenn Dallaire said...

Hi Anonymous,
Thanks for your comment.

Miracles, such as levitation, would only be a "defiance against God" if SOMEONE OTHER THAN GOD was the author of said miracles. But, since it is God Himself who is the author of miracles, then there is no "defiance" as you suggest.

Thanks again for your comment and may God draw you ever closer to Himself.
-Glenn Dallaire

Melinda said...

I was just reading in Mark about Jesus walking on the water and I have to think it is scriptures like these that will keep unbelievers outside the pavilion of faith.

Anonymous said...

If God can raise the dead (Lazarus, Jesus) then why would it be so hard to believe he can also raise the living? Also, the phrase, "delight in the lord and he gives the desires of the heart", obviously, these people, saints, wanted to be there and so being such a generous God, he gave them the desires of the heart.

Glenn Dallaire said...

Hi Melinda,
Thanks for your comment.
Scripture says:
"I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father." (John 14:12-13)

------
I think Jesus statement above sums it up quite well....The Saints can perform extraordinary works and do extraordinary things because Jesus is with them and He foretold and promised that He would do such things through them, to glorify the heavenly Father.

May God bless you and your loved ones,
-Glenn Dallaire

Jennifer said...

With God All Things Are Possible

john said...

Why levitate?

Glenn Dallaire said...

Hi John,

Why levitation?

Well I suppose you would have to ask God that question---we can only surmise and draw logical conclusions. In rare circumstances for some Saints, it seems that levitation and ecstatic flights are a special grace given to them by God when they turn to Him in prayer and adoration.

The key point is that levitation is not under the saints control nor is it done by their own power.

May God bless you and your loved ones.
-Glenn Dallaire

fernando said...

I wanna levitate toooo....so awsome
Matt; 7:7......

Glenn Dallaire said...

Hi Fernando,
Thanks for your comment.

Well, I think that levitation and ecstatic flights are special graces that are primarily reserved for the Saints, HOWEVER I do think that with our souls we will all experience something very similar upon our deaths, when our souls leave our bodies, and appear before the good God in judgement.

May God bless you and your loved ones!
-Glenn Dallaire

Anonymous said...

levitation of people is a natural phenomena that is not reserved for saints or god's authority. because people levitate we cannot assume god is behind it

Anonymous said...

Well ,I presume your right ,even devil can aid some people with that,but of course with the price of their souls and not of the same circumstance. While in the case of these Saints, I believe that their levitation are the result of their intense desire and love with God! :)
Can anyone post of any documented levitation such as those that does not come from God,that can truly be explain by science. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Hi!
I have done something awful and i don't know if how am I be forgiven it's been a year but still can't forget of what I've done. I always apologize to God and to my baby, but I don't feel that i am forgiven. I always got this heavy feeling, don't know what to do. :(

Glenn Dallaire said...


Hi Anonymous,
Don't have doubts about being forgiven--this saddens Jesus very much! If you have sincerely asked Him to forgive you and you are repentant, then you must accept that you are forgiven. Do not struggle or doubt His forgiveness any longer. He suffered a horrible and painful death on the Cross that you (and everyone who asks His mercy and forgiveness) might be forgiven. If you haven't already, read the Diary of St Faustina (Divine Mercy in my Soul) and you will see to trust in His mercy, love and forgiveness for you.

May Jesus bless you and lead you ever closer to Himself,
-Glenn Dallaire

Anonymous said...

Do God forgive someone who had done abortion? Have been reading about St. Faustina. Im from the Philippines. Have a blessed Christmas! Thank you..

Glenn Dallaire said...


Yes, be assured that the Catholic church teaches that God desires to forgive any possible sin a human being could possibly commit. There is no sin that cannot be forgiven. The forgiveness of God is only contingent upon a persons repentance and their desire to be forgiven. Thanks be to Jesus for His infinite mercy and love!
-Glenn Dallaire

Anonymous said...

Amazing stories. Thnks so much.
Ryan

jonathan carrasco said...

Hi I am Catholic also in 1983 around that year I
I had my first Levitation
I remember I went outside to play around I felt very bored at home and I had nothing to do at home. What was strange is that, NO one Not even ONE single person was outside to witness my Miracle/Paranormal experience
this happen probably around 4 p.m. in the afternoon

I saw myself flying all over the duplex apartment it happen so fast that at the moment I was Speechless I didn't know how ? why?or what to say ?I Know for a Fact I wasn't dreaming:0 I never told anyone until I confess to my mom about me flying in the air
All my life I been trying to find answers
why did this happend to me and why me?
I am no Saint I'm just a poor sinner
Could it possibly be what I experience is from above heaven?

Anonymous said...

amazing experience jonathan.

The Church declares sainthood of a particular person years after their death. Being humble enough to confess that you are a poor sinner is great manifestation that you welcome the grace of God in your life and the possibility of becoming a saint. Who knows God calls you to be such. God bless.

brian c.

Al said...

This reading is beautiful and full of the Love of God.God bless you.Thank you very much for this article.

Diane C said...

Great website! I was looking into miracles for a novel that I am writing and it gave me all the info I needed. Thanks for making everything so clear...and fascinating to read!

Anonymous said...

Joe,

Miracles and miracles over decades, still the jew does not believe in Jesus the messiah, from their own flesh and blood, signs in Tora are fulfilled, the first apostle were all jew.
New era of terrorism, where we find doctors, scientific people believe in a prophet who recall his followers to kill, rape wifes, send women for Nikah, Jihad and eliminate other religions.
Who does not believe in miracles, preach your own religion.

Anonymous said...

From http://saints.sqpn.com/saints-who-had-the-gift-of-levitation/

Saint Benedict Joseph Labre
Saint Charbel Makhlouf
Saint Christina the Astonishing
Saint Francesco Antonio Fasani
Saint John Joseph of the Cross
Saint Padre Pio

Craig Henry said...

If its OK for aliens and demons to be immortal and fly, how much more the children of God? Or what did you think eternal life is? It's the life that the angels have never lost!

Craig Henry said...

Early Christians forsook marriage & sexual relations upon baptism (married couples even staying together but abstaining from sex). The Nicolaitans (Revelation 2:15) are false teachers that introduce adulterous marriages, sexual sin & lack of fasting in the church.

Paul:

"Blessed are they who keep their flesh undefiled, for they shall be the temple of God"

"Blessed are they who have wives as though they had them not, for they shall be made angels of God"

The Acts of Paul & Thecla (Apocrypha)

+++

Jesus speaking:

"If you do not fast as regards the world, you will not find the kingdom. If you do not observe the Sabbath as a Sabbath, you will not see the father"

Gospel of Thomas 27

(Apocryphal New Testament)

"they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; & are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection"

Luke 20:35-36

+++

Again:

"Without holiness no one will see the Lord"

Hebrews 12:14

(Canonical New Testament)

And:

"These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless"

Revelation 14:4-5

 

The devil is an angel & angels can change the form of their bodies when appearing as men!

In fact, have you even begun to be a part of the ten virgins Jesus talks about, before you actually start to practice virginity (Chastity)?

Narrow is the door!

Anonymous said...

I definitely concur with the application of Scepticism as a philosophical approach. But you lack credibility when you say if. Can you prove God created either the Universe or the laws of Physics? Until you make sense out of that, defiance of God is not the issue. Your bias in thought betrays your starting point.

Anonymous said...

How can you characterize God without a definition? If you define God as the creator of the universe - then it is false, and there is no such god. However, if you define God is all powerful, then there is God and it is your soul. You can also learn how to levitate and do all other kinds of miracles. You ask laws of physics? Do we know any law of nature - the answer is No. Math and physics are all false. Read the first two chapters - Truth and Yogic Powers - from the book at - http://theoryofsouls.wordpress.com/

Robert said...

Hello Glenn,
I guess I have found the right person at last to help.... As a child of perhaps 8 years of age my devout grandfather who was also very inquisitive about these matters, took me to Paris. We visited a small chapel and convent. We were shown a small chair upon which a young nun was frequently known to levitate during services....who was she?????

Glenn Dallaire said...

Hi Robert,
I know that there is a special chair at the "Rue du Bac" chapel in Paris where the Blessed Virgin Mary Herself sat in when She appeared to a nun named St Catherine Laboure--perhaps you are familiar with this apparition and this special chair?...but in this case I know of nothing about levitation, so I am not sure if this is the same matter that you are referring to.

Best wishes and may God bless you and your loved ones,
Glenn Dallaire

Alex Sabu said...

Man created the laws of physics. God defies all laws of man.

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