For this edition of #ItalianoftheWeek, we celebrate the life of doctor and Saint Giuseppe Moscati.
“You must treat not only bodies, but also souls, with counsel that appeals to their minds and hearts rather than with cold prescriptions to be sent in to the pharmacist.”
Saint Giuseppe Moscati
Giuseppe Moscati was born in 1880 in Benevento, Italy, and was the seventh of nine children. Eventually, his family settled in Naples, but often took holiday in Avellino. His father was a judge who would often volunteer at the local church, bringing young Giuseppe with him. In 1893, Giuseppe’s older brother, Alberto, suffered a traumatic head injury. It was during this time that Giuseppe learned about the limitations of medicine and the effectiveness of finding comfort in his religion. In 1897, he enrolled at the University of Naples to study medicine and became a doctor in 1903.
During his career, Dr. Moscati became known for going above and beyond in his work. When Mount Vesuvius erupted in 1906, he personally saw to the evacuation of infirm patients at a local hospital. It was reported that minutes after Dr. Moscati evacuated the last of the patients, the roof collapsed under the weight of the ash. When there was a cholera outbreak in Naples in 1911, he worked tirelessly to treat his patients and researched how to eradicate the disease. During World War I, Dr. Moscati treated over 3,000 wounded soldiers while continuing his research and other duties.
While practicing medicine, Dr. Moscati found time to continue conducting groundbreaking research and teach medicine to local students. He also believed in treating all who needed his help, regardless of their ability to pay. He would often treat his patients pro bono, sent them home with free medications, and included a banknote with their prescriptions.
Known as the “holy physician of Naples,” Dr. Moscati passed away in 1927 at the age of 46. Giuseppe was beatified in 1975 and on October 25, 1987 Pope John Paul II declared him a Saint. His feast day is November 16.
In 1993, Pope John Paul II dedicated the church of San Giuseppe Moscati (located in a Rome suburb), and said of the modern doctor: “In addition to the resources of his acclaimed skill, in caring for the sick he used the warmth of his humanity and the witness of his faith.”