Saints and Holy People

Find out about their lives and how they changed the world

Saint Joseph Cafasso (1811–1860)

Saint Joseph Cafasso (1811–1860)

Patron saint of prison chaplains, captives, and prisoners

Feast day: June 23

Saint Joseph Cafasso was born to peasant parents in Castelnuovo d'Asti, which is in the Piedmont region of Italy. He was ordained to the priesthood and became a popular professor of theology at the Institute of Saint Francis.

Saint Joseph fervently opposed Jansenism, an extreme obsession with sin and damnation, and worked against state intrusion into Church matters. He became rector of the Institute of Saint Francis and was admired by his students for his holiness, discipline, and high standards.

Saint Joseph Cafasso was an excellent confessor and spiritual advisor. He visited and ministered to prisoners, working to improve their horrible conditions and helping many of them to die at peace with the Lord.

Saint John Bosco was one of Saint Joseph's students and friends. Through Saint Joseph's encouragement, Saint John Bosco discerned that his vocation was to work with boys, and established the Salesians. Saint Joseph passed on to his heavenly reward on June 23, 1860.

He is the patron saint of prison chaplains, captives, and prisoners.

(© José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro / CC-BY-SA-4.0)