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February 4 

Saint of the day:

Saint Joseph of Leonessa

Patron Saint of Leonessa, Italy 

Saint Joseph of Leonissa’s Story

Joseph of Leonissa, OFM Cap.;  was the third of eight children born at Leonessa (Italy) on January 8, 1556.

At baptism he was given the name Eufranio.

Impressed by the example of Matthew Silvestri, who had left the medical profession to embrace the Capuchin life and whose holiness was evident, Eufranio was inspired to become a Capuchin.  After overcoming family opposition, he was admitted to the novitiate and received the habit and the name Joseph and made profession on January 8, 1573.

On May 21, 1581, the Capuchin general vicar issued patents for preaching, the ministry in which Joseph would be engaged for the remainder of his life.

Relying solely on grace and with a mission crucifix always tucked in his cincture, Joseph negotiated the most obscure, mountainous regions of Umbria, Lazio and the Abruzzi in an intense and extensive mission of evangelization among those who were poor.

Joseph enjoyed such great success in preaching because of his intimate union with God which was cultivated by incessant prayer. He would pray and meditate on the road, while holding his crucifix. Assigned to Constantinople he was appointed as chaplain to some 4,000 Christian slaves who worked in the penal colony of Qaasim-pacha. He immediately went to work bringing the gospel and charitable relief to those who were languishing in inhumane conditions. Many times he offered himself as a substitute in order to obtain the release of a slave who was near death. His offer was never accepted.

When the plague broke out in the penal colonies, the Capuchins immediately took up the ministry of assisting those who were sick and dying. Two Capuchins, Peter and Dennis, died doing so. Although Joseph became ill, he and Brother Gregory alone survived to remain at the mission. After converting a Greek bishop who had renounced the faith, Joseph devised a plan which entailed approaching the sultan, Murad 111, to seek the recognition of the right of freedom of conscience for anyone who was converted or returned to the Christian faith.

When Joseph attempted to enter the sultan's chambers, he was arrested and bound in chains. He was condemned to an immediate death by being hung on hooks. He was hung from the gallows with one hook through the tendons of his right hand and another through his right foot.  Near death, on the evening of the third day, the guards cut him down.

Joseph quickly left Turkey and arrived at Rome where he and the converted Greek bishop presented themselves to Pope Sixtus V. Following Joseph's return to Italy, in the autumn of 1589, he took up residence at the Carcerelle in Assisi.

In the aftermath of the Council of Trent, Joseph spent much time and energy catechizing. He began a ministry of evangelization among shepherds who lacked even rudimentary knowledge of the faith, prayer and the commandments. He would walk through the streets ringing a bell, reminding parents to send their children to catechism class.

When he became deathly ill, Joseph asked to be taken to Leonessa in order to pay his last respects to his relatives and friends. On Saturday evening, February 4, 1612, after beginning the divine office,which proved too difficult to continue, Joseph repeated his favorite prayer: "Sancta Maria, succurre miseris."  Joseph was beatified by Clement XII in 1737 and canonized by Benedict XIV in 1746.






The Church of San Giuseppe da Leonessa, Rieti, Lazio 




Mushroom Pasta!
This region of Italy is known for Mushrooms!!

Short Rib Ravioli and Creamy Mushroom Sauce


Short Ribs: 
  • 4 pieces short ribs, 2-inch cut

  • 4 cups red wine

  • 1 shallot, minced

  • 1 clove garlic, chopped

  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme

  • 5 sprigs fresh rosemary

  • 4 cups veal stock

  • 2 tablespoons ketchup

  • 2 tablespoons honey

  • 1 carrot, chopped

  • 1 leek, chopped

  • 1 celery stalk, chopped

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Short Rib Filling:
  • 3 large onions, thinly sliced

  • Shredded meat from braised short rib

  • 1 cup mixed dried mushrooms

  • 2 cups boiling water

Pasta Dough:
  • 3 1/2 cups flour

  • 6 eggs

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon chopped herbs
    (basil, parsley, chives), optional


  • Pasta dough, recipe follows

Creamy Mushroom Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon butter

  • 2 cups mixed fresh mushrooms, sliced

  • 1 shallot, minced

  • 2 cups braising liquid from the short ribs

  • 2 cups 35-percent cream

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

  • Chopped fresh chives

  • Grated Parmesan, for garnish


For the short ribs:

  1. Marinate the short ribs with wine, shallot, garlic and herbs overnight.

  2. Preheat the oven at 350 degrees F.

  3. Remove the ribs and keep the marinade for later. Sear the short ribs in a heavy saucepan on medium high or until golden brown on all sides and remove. Add the carrot, leek, celery in the saucepan and caramelize on high heat, then deglaze with the reserved marinade. Bring to a boil and add the short ribs again, veal stock, ketchup, and honey. Season with salt and pepper.

  4. Cover and place in the oven for 3 hours or until the meat falls off the bone. Remove from oven, strain liquid and skim the fat. On medium heat, reduce the braising liquid by half, about 30 minutes. Keep aside for the creamy mushroom sauce.

  5. For the filling: Rehydrate the dried mushrooms in hot water for about 15 minutes and keep the liquid for the sauce.

  6. Place the onions in a saute pan and cook on low heat for about 30 minutes, until golden brown and caramelized, stirring on a regular basis.

  7. In another pan, saute the rehydrated mushrooms in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add the shredded short rib meat and caramelized onions. Season with salt and pepper. Keep aside.

For the pasta dough:

  1. Place the flour on a table in a mound and make a well in the center. Put the eggs and salt into the well.

  2. Whisk the eggs together with a fork, and gently incorporate the flour into the egg mixture a little at a time. Using your hands, bring the mixture together to form a ball.

  3. Knead the pasta dough, about 5 minutes. Put the dough in a bowl with olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes until ready to roll your fresh pasta.

  4. The pasta can be used right away or will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.

  5. Cut the pasta dough into 4 equal sections. Flatten one of the dough balls with the palm of your hand until it's about 1/2-inch thick and no wider than the slot of the pasta machine. If you don't have a pasta machine, a rolling pin will work fine but make sure to roll the dough thin enough.

  6. Adjust the slot of the pasta machine to its widest setting (usually number 7). Turn the handle while feeding the dough through the slot. Gently hold the flattened dough as it comes out of the pasta machine, but don't pull on it. After the dough has completely passed through the pasta machine, turn the slot down to the next smallest setting and pass the dough through the slot.

  7. As you make the slot smaller, your sheet of dough will become longer. Try to gently hold the dough as it exits the pasta machine so it doesn't tear. Continue passing the dough through the machine until it's about a 1/16-inch thick or number 2 on the pasta machine.

  8. For the ravioli: Using 2 spoons, place about 1 tablespoon of filling into each pocket. Leave 2-inches in between each of them.

  9. Brush the edges of the pasta with water. This will help the ravioli to seal tightly when boiled. Place another sheet of pasta over the ravioli filling. Press out any air to form a seal around each ravioli. Using a cookie cutter to cut desired shape.

  10. Place the raviolis in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet to prevent from sticking. At this point, if you want to freeze the ravioli for later, place the entire baking sheet into the freezer. Once the ravioli have frozen, you can remove the pasta and place them in resealable bags.

For the sauce:

  1. In a pan on medium heat, saute the shallots and fresh mushrooms in olive oil and butter until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper. Add reserved short rib braising liquid and water from the rehydrated mushrooms. Continue cooking until quantity is reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Add the cream and let simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.

  2. For serving: Cook the ravioli in salted boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes or until the ravioli floats. Serve 3 to 4 raviolis per person, add the mushroom sauce and garnish with grated Parmesan cheese and chopped chives.

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