Everyone knows that levitation is when a person defies the laws of gravity and rises into the air, seemingly, on his or her own power. Not everyone believes that this phenomenon is real!
The earliest record of a levitating saint was that of St. Dunstan, whose life spanned from 918 to 988. There may be others who were documented earlier, but this is the earliest one I found. St. Dunstan, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was seen rising above the ground on which he was standing shortly before his death in 988.
If the writer had said that a serf or peasant living on the outskirts of a feudal kingdom had been levitating, I would be more likely to disregard it. But none of the Archbishops of Canterbury — to my knowledge — were crackpots.
St. Joseph of Cupertino:
St. Joseph of Cupertino (1603-1663) was a saint at the low end of intelligence scale. In fact, his family thought him to be mentally retarded. But he was eventually admitted into the Franciscan order — after many failures to learn a trade. At his acceptance, Joseph was placed in charge of taking care of the abbey’s horses. It was then that St. Joseph began praying before a broken Statue of Mary in the stable where he worked, and his levitations began during these times of prayer before the Virgin Mary statue.
Ultimately, he was able to become a priest, and over 70 times while he was saying mass or praying, he would go into an ecstasy and float in the air. Finally, his contemporaries had to restrict him to the church’s balcony because of the uproar his levitations would cause the people observing him.
The Original Flying Nun – St. Teresa of Avila:
St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) was a Doctor of the Catholic Church. This was no small or insignificant title. A Doctor of the Church is a saint whose writings have been of great advantage to the entire church, no matter which century they are read in. Of thousands of Catholic saints, there are only 33 Doctors of the Church. Teresa’s contribution was her writing and teaching on prayer. She was the founder of the discalced Carmelite nuns.
Teresa’s levitations occurred during times of deep prayer. She regarded her levitations as chastisement from God. When she would feel like God was going to levitate her body, she would lie down on the ground and ask her sister nuns to sit on her and hold her down. She continually begged God to stop causing her to levitate in public.
More Levitating Saints:
St. Francis of Assisi levitated. So did St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Joseph of the Cross, Sr. Maria of the Passion, Venerated Mary of Agreda, St. Martin de Porres, St. Gemma Galgani, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Philip Neri, St. Rita of Casca and Sister Mary, an Arabian Carmelite nun who lived in the 1700s in Bethlehem. There are over 200 accountings of saints and other holy people levitating.
In 1911, Father Suarez, a priest in Argentina, was observed levitating. This was the most recent recounting of levitation that I could find, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there were instances in the recent past or even in the present.