Saint Joseph of Copertino
Another Saint who saw the demons was St. Joseph of Copertino (1603-1663), a Franciscan Priest. He was born in a stable and was so poor in school that he passed his exam for the priesthood only because the bishop asked the one question he was prepared for. Nonetheless, he developed great wisdom and knowledge of holy things. He performed severe penances, such as wearing a heavy chain around his waist and fasting seven times a year for forty days each!
But he was most famous for his ecstatic flights or levitations, of which seventy are recorded in the acts of his beatification. He levitated almost daily at Mass-sometimes for two hours. People flocked to him because of his kindness, and so many attended his Masses that the church could not contain them. St. Joseph worked numerous miracles and, like St. Francis of Assisi, even spoke with animals. On one occasion he raised to life a flock of sheep that had been killed by enormous hailstones. Although he could smell the stench of sin in wrongdoers, he himself exuded a lovely bodily perfume. He performed exorcisms by reciting the Litany of Loreto. And the devil even said of him: "Friar Joseph is the worst foe we have."
The following is an account of his confrontation with the devil: "The infernal spirits treated Joseph as their enemy. One night the servant of God was standing before the altar of St. Francis, in the Basilica at Assisi, when he heard the door opened violently and saw a man enter, who advanced so noisily that his feet seemed cased in iron. The saint regarded him closely and saw that, as he approached, the lamps went out, one by one, till finally all were extinguished and the intruder stood at his side in utter darkness. Thereupon the devil, for he it was, furiously attacked Joseph, threw him on the floor, and attempted to strangle him. Joseph, however, invoked St. Francis, and saw him come forth from his tomb and relight with a small candle all the lamps, at the gleam of which the fiend suddenly vanished. By reason of this occurrence Joseph gave St. Francis the name "Lamplighter of the Church."
The devil made other attempts on the life of Joseph, by throwing him into a rapid stream in order to drown him, by taking hold of him to tear him to pieces, and by endeavoring to run him through with a sword, but all to no purpose. Though the evil one did succeed in striking him so terribly that his fellow-religious were horrified by the noise of the many blows and the rattling of chains, he did not succeed in tiring the patience of the saint. When asked by his fellow-religious as to the cause of the strange noises in his cell at night, Joseph laughingly replied, "It was only fun." All the devil accomplished by his implacable hatred was to give unmistakable proof of Joseph's sanctity."
[From the book Saint Joseph of Copertino, by Fr. Angelo Pastrovicchi, O.M.C., published by TAN Books and Publishers.]