St. Giuseppe Moscati (1880-1927) was canonized in 1987, so he can be regarded as a saint of our times. What we know about him is real, factual and documented. He stands out as being singular because he is an example of how Faith and Science can ‘thrive’ together. He was a medical university professor, outstanding in the field of biochemistry, a scientific researcher whose studies led to the discovery of insulin, a life-saving treatment for diabetes.
He was the seventh of nine children born in an aristocratic, devout Catholic family. They lived in Naples where his father had an esteemed position as Judge. Giuseppe’s career path was meant to follow in his father’s footsteps. However Giuseppe chose to follow a medical career, when he saw how the ‘power of religion’ helped medical care in the case of his brother who had suffered incurable head injury after falling from a horse.
As a young Catholic, studying at the University of Naples, he continued to practise the Faith in spite of the fact that he was surrounded by an atmosphere of non-believers and negative attitudes towards Religion. He never failed to hear Mass every day. He carried a Rosary in his pocket as he believed in seeking help from Jesus and Our Lady when he needed to take crucial decisions. At one time he considered becoming a Jesuit, but then decided that his vocation lay in the world of medicine and he chose to be a Secular Franciscan. He never married.
He became a hospital administrator and refused higher promotions, preferring to continue working with patients that had been classified as ‘incurables.’ Besides, he treated the destitutely poor at his clinic not only without charging fees but often sending them home with money in an envelope. He was a frontliner in the outbreak of cholera in 1911 and in treating wounded soldiers in the First World War. In every circumstance, he was always tenderhearted and compassionate. People called him “the loving doctor” and “the holy physician of Naples.”
He died when he was forty-seven years old.
Pope John Paul ll praised St. Giuseppe Moscati not only for his medical knowledge but also for the fact that “in caring for the sick he used the warmth of his humanity and his witness of faith.”