Saint Giuseppe Cafasso

detail of a portrait of Saint Giuseppe Cafasso, by Enrico Reffo, 1895; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsAlso known as

  • Joseph Cafasso
  • Priest of the Gallows



Born with a deformed spine, and into a wealthy peasant family; he was short in stature and crippled throughout his life. Ordained in 1833. Professor of moral theology at the ecclesiastical college at Turin in 1836. Superior of the college from 1846 to 1860. Retreat house director. Pastor of Saint Francis Church in 1848. Renowned confessor. Promoted devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. Friend of and advisor to Saint John Bosco, having first met him when Joseph was 12 years old; Saint John wrote a biography of Saint Joseph. Uncle of Blessed Joseph Allamano. Founded religious fellowships.

Worked to reform prisons and prisoners, and to improve prison conditions in Turin. Ministered to condemned prisoners, winning converts. Once escorted 60 newly converted condemned to the gallows. Since many of the prisoners were hanged immediately after confessing and receiving absolution, Joseph referred to them as “hanged saints”.








A single word from him – a look, a smile, his very presence – sufficed to dispel melancholy, drive away temptation and produce holy resolution in the soul. Saint John Bosco, writing about Saint Joseph

We are born to love, we live to love, and we will die to love still more. Saint Joseph Cafasso

Who is this man who in the world is called an ecclesiastic, a priest? Who is this personage whom some bless and others curse? Who is he whom the whole world talks about and criticizes, and who is the subject of discussion by all pens and all tongues? What is the significance of that name which resounds in every corner of the world? What is a priest? In order to define clearly what he is, I shall avail myself of the distinctions that Saint Bernard made concerning ecclesiastics and shall consider him in his nature, in his person, in his habits. Quid in natura, quis in persona, qualis in moribus! In his nature he is a man like others. In his person, his dignity is above that of all other men in the world. In his conduct and habits, he should be a man totally different from all others as he is by his dignity and office. These are the three points which I propose for your consideration. Saint Joseph Cafasso

MLA Citation

  • “Saint Giuseppe Cafasso“. CatholicSaints.Info. 31 August 2021. Web. 29 November 2021. <>