Moscati as Doctor, Researcher, Saint - 1
Prof. Antonio Marcucci
An unlimited charity
Joseph Moscati was a layman, a famous Neapolitan clinician and a Christian rich in faith. He showed clearly that there isnít any opposition between science and Catholic faith, on the contrary, there exists a harmonious and deep synthesis between them.
1880 - 1927
He lived an intense life of prayer, which found its climax in the Holy Mass and daily Communion. This eminent doctor had deeply understood that all people are brothers in Jesus Christ and that the real and unconditioned Christian love induces us to an unlimited charity toward all those people who suffer.
Prof. Joseph Moscati studied as doctor and researcher at the University of Naples. Moscatiís big love for ill people brought him to choose the hospital career, carrying out at the same time his teaching activity. He never stopped giving lessons in his ward as a free teacher, even though he went on giving official lessons at the faculty of medicine.
Those people who expect to find sensational episodes or prodigious facts in Joseph Moscatiís life will be disappointed, because he led his life most of all as an educational mission, a continuous exercise aimed at the achievement of the best results in the spiritual, scientific and professional field. Without particular exploits in specific fields, Moscatiís life was quite normal, even though he did all that his strength allowed him.
The fact that he did not restrict himself to his specific duties as student or, later, as researcher and doctor is shown by the remarkable interests he cultivated in many fields. His culture was not limited. He never denied the possibility for himself of gaining new knowledge and living other cultural experiences. On the contrary, he had a keen taste for art, history and thought in general. His intelligence was lively and open, eager for knowledge, ready to receive life imagines and elements. It is correct to affirm that he never closed himself into the severe circle of medical studies, either when he was young.
He has shown us that life itself does not overwhelm, that science is not a trap, that youth is not inevitably condemned to the slavery of passions. There is an echo of victory and solace for everybody in his way of behavingÖ
But what was his secret? Prayer! Joseph Moscati knew how to pray. Through prayer, that is a dialogue with God, He achieved these aims! He was surrounded by thousands of dangers, even though he did not love danger! This represents a wonderful conciliation between religion and science.
It isnít certainly easy to define such a profile. My authority is quite medical only, for this reason, I can only express some considerations about Moscati as doctor and researcher, in order to try to interpret his talents in a faithful way. I will refer what I have understood about him through a steady comparison with my daily problems, too.
The Cultural Climate at Moscatiís Time
Moscatiís figure has to be set in the cultural climate characterised by positivism, which spread during the late XIX century and early XX. He was part of that group of laymen, who, notwithstanding their timeís trends, helped the world to rediscover the vitality and eternal youth of Church.
and Charity Works
In this reawakening of catholic intellectuals, Naples can count prestigious figures, as Moscati and Bartolo Longo, who lived intensively and worked much harder between the two centuries. They have shown the role and the importance of laymen within the Church and the world. They have also helped faith to go forward, so that it is now able to establish a true contact with science.
Some of the works Bartolo Longo carried out have been ahead of his time. On the other side, Moscati has left us that missionary spirit he was able to infuse into doctors. It is perhaps right to ask the following question: why, at a distance of so many years, is this manís memory and worship so lively?
At first sight, his life can seem very usual, even common. However, was it really so? He lived his faith intensively, but he never forgot his own duties both as professional man and citizen, in a city that, even at that time, was troubled by serious problems, which are still present. It is worthwhile to talk for a while about Moscatiís figure as doctor and citizen, since these two aspects make us feel him similar to us and perhaps they are the most fascinating.
This man, died in 1927 at the age of just 47 during the most productive period of his maturity, has become very popular in a short time, so that not only his memory has not waned yet, but he has even forged ahead the normal course of canonical trials, asserting himself with the church in less than fifty years.
The religious aspect of his life certainly attracts and fascinates. However, what mostly attracts modern peopleís attention is the way he performed the "sublime mission of the doctor" (his own words) and his behaviour within the cultural and the scientific context of Southern Italy.
If related to the time he lived, Moscati represents a real pioneer, because he was able to join the recent knowledge of physiological chemistry, that at that time was moving its first uncertain steps, to diagnostics, essentially based on physical semiotics. In the period he had to substitute for Prof. Pasquale Malerba and, then, Filippo Bottazzi, Biochemistry was actually Moscatiís field of action as researcher. Later, he definitively left the chair of physical chemistry to Prof. Gaetano Quagliariello, since our Holy Professor had refused the official teaching for the sake of his hospital and his students.
Moscati improved his scientific qualification in biochemical studies, i.e. in that part of physiology that studies the chemical composition and the chemical-physical features of animal and vegetal organisms, and that tries to interpret the development of chemical and physical-chemical processes in the same organisms.
This particular scientific study enlightens the darkest and most mysterious part of vital metabolism, giving the impression of going back to the origin of existence. Because of the progresses reached in this field, some people were wrongly persuaded that, in a more or less distant future, thanks to biochemical research, it would have been possible to explain life on the base of a physical-chemical dynamics.
Bronze panel by Amedeo Garufi
Because of his scientific thought and experimental activity, Moscati, who was engaged with the most important scientific questions, reached the limit of the earthly achievements. He reached that limit that represents the borderline between physics and metaphysics, between matter and God knowledge.
He thought that the metaphysical problem could appear clearer, if seen without considering the chain of physical-chemical achievements. Setting in the most daring and recent experimental researches, he went into the knowledge of organic reality, going through it up to its last part, which is possible to know experimentally. In other words, this part is the point where that same reality borders on the open space of metaphysics.
To many intellects this point represents a limit, a renounce and stop signal. However, it represented to Moscati the beginning of transcendent speculation, allowing him to reach the eternal irradiation of the First Cause: God, creator and responsible for all the things.
The inadequacy of matter in giving a self-explanation, which is clearly shown and confirmed by the much more brilliant results reached by biochemistry, meant to Moscati a further argument to state the necessity of metaphysics and Godís truthfulness. However, Moscatiís intellectual merit, apart from his spiritual one, consists in having correctly understood the values of the science he performed fervently, in not having let those brilliant results dazzle and mislead him, taking into account that they couldnít explain the essential being of life.
The matter, wonderfully organised, was not able to reveal in itself the origin of its own order and end. The living matter was not able to show in itself the origin of life. Therefore, the extraordinary beauty of creation is a miracle made by an almighty and love gesture that, time after time, happens divinely again. These are the conclusions that Moscatiís free intellect stated through reasoning.
His medical activity shows clearly that he faced clinical problems using new knowledge that, later, would have radically changed the diagnostic and laboratory methodology, determining indisputable achievements in the modern scientific and clinical-therapeutic field.