Venerable John the Baptist Jossa
Augustinian Servant of God
John the Baptist Jossa (1767-1828), gave up his position in the Supreme Court of the Kingdom of Naples in order to serve the poorest of the Neapolitan poor.
Born in Naples, Italy in 1767, John was the oldest of seven children. His father, who worked for the Court, died when John was 13. John inherited his father's job. He carried out his duties with honesty and integrity, and earned the respect of his superiors and his co-workers.
When the French Jacobins gained control of Naples, they wanted all government employees to swear an oath of fidelity to their revolutionary laws, which were not friendly towards the Catholic Church.
John would not do this, saying that he would follow the laws of Jesus Christ. This decision forced him to leave the position in the Court which he had held for 20 years.
He became close to the Augustinians at Saint Augustine Church and to the Augustinian Oblate Nuns. John organized an effective outreach to those forgotten by the rest of society. He dedicated himself to meeting the needs of the poor, the sick and those in prison. He saw to it that orphans were cared for.
He himself lived as a poor man, depending on donations which barely provided the minimum necessary for survival. He did not even have a house in which to live. But for 28 years, John could be seen in the streets, hospitals and jails of Naples, tirelessly ministering with Christian love to all in need.
During the last months of his life, John suffered from a painful disease. Even in his illness, he never gave up his support of the poor. As death approached, he gave away the few possessions that he had. “If you need it, take it,” he would say.
John died in 1828. He was 61. His remains are preserved at Saint Augustine Church in Naples.
Pope Paul VI in 1972 declared John's practice of virtue “heroic”. Josef Sciberras, O.S.A., the Augustinian Postulator of Causes, oversees the progress of his cause for beatification and canonization.