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April 11

St Gemma Galgani - April 11

Saint Gemma Galgani
Stigamist, Mystic
“Flower of Lucca”
(1878 – 1903)

“If I saw the gates of Hell open and I stood on the brink of the abyss, I should not despair, I should not lose hope of mercy, because I should trust in You, my God.”

Saint Gemma Galgani

Her Early Years

Gemma was born March 12, 1878 in Borgo Nuovo di Camigliano, Lucca, Tuscany, Italy. Gemma was the fifth of eight children and the first daughter of her father, Enrico Galgani, who was a prosperous pharmacist. Soon after Gemma’s birth, the family relocated north from Camigliano to a larger new home in the Tuscan city of Lucca. Her parents moved the family to Lucca to increase educational opportunities available to their children.

In September 1885, when Gemma was seven, her mother, Aurelia, who had contracted tuberculosis, died at the very young age of 35. Due to the difficulty of raising a child without her mother, young Gemma was placed in a private nursery school run by Elena and Ersilia Vallini.

Gemma looked after her brother, Gino, who also had tuberculosis and who died when he was eighteen. Her oldest brother, Carlo, and her little sister, Giulia, also died at an early age. Her father was a prosperous pharmacist but the prolonged illness of others in the family was a drain on his resources and the family was reduced to poverty. Then, Gemma’s father developed cancer of the throat. She nursed him with great care until his death when she was 18.

Gemma had an immense love for the poor, and helped them in any way she could. After her father’s death, the nineteen-year-old orphaned Gemma became the mother of her seven brothers and sisters. Gemma’s own health was always poor. Between her health and her home life, she never finished school.

Cured through Prayer

At age 20, Gemma, who from an early age had known loss and bereavement, developed a curvature of the spine. Also, meningitis set in and left her deaf. Large abscesses formed on her head, her hair fell off, and her limbs became paralyzed. A doctor examined her and attempted many remedies which all failed. She only grew worse. Her condition was such that she was helpless and dependent on others. By praying to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, and Saint Marguerite Marie Alacoque, Gemma was miraculously cured.

Passionist

When Gemma applied to religious orders, they rejected her due to concerns about her health. They also would not believe her cure and were suspicious of the claims of a miracle. So, Gemma became a Passionist tertiary. Gemma had a profound prayer life and a deep union with God. She attended Mass twice a day, while receiving communion once. She faithfully said her rosary, and in the evening, went to vespers. She never neglected any of her other duties.

Stigmatist

Beginning in June 1889 and continuing into 1901, Gemma bore the stigmata, receiving the wounds of Christ on her hands and feet each Thursday evening through Friday afternoon. As a visionary, she saw her guardian angel daily, who protected and consoled her, and occasionally scolded her for her faults. Gemma had visits from Jesus, Mary, Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, and the devil who tempted her to spit on the cross and break a rosary.

At one time during her sufferings, Gemma was asked: “If Jesus gave you the choice between two alternatives, either going immediately to heaven and having your sufferings disappear, or else remaining here in suffering to procure still more glory for the Lord, which would you choose?”

Gemma answered: “I prefer to remain here rather than going to heaven, when it is a question of suffering for Jesus and His glory.”

Imitated The Saints

Margaret’s royal parentage was, of course, a matter of discussion in the convent. But Margaret managed to turn such conversation away from herself to the holy lives of the saints who were related to her by blood – King Saint Stephen, Saint Hedwig, Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, and several others. She did not glory in her wealth or parentage, but strove to imitate the saints in their holiness.

Margaret took her turn in the kitchen and laundry, seeking by choice much heavy work that her rank might have excused her from doing. She was especially welcome in the infirmary, which proves that she was not a sad-faced saint. Margaret made it her special duty to care for those who were too disagreeable for anyone else to tend.

Margaret had a tender devotion to Our Lady. On the eve of her feasts, Margaret said a thousand Hail Mary’s. Unable to make the long pilgrimage to the Holy Land, to Rome, or to any of the other famous shrines of Christendom, Margaret developed a plan by which she could go in spiri. She counted up the miles that lay between herself and the desired shrine, and then said an Ave Maria for every mile there and back. On Good Friday, Margaret was so overcome at the thoughts of Our Lord’s Passion that she wept all day. She was frequently in ecstasy and very embarrassed if anyone found her so and remarked on her holiness.

Her Death

In 1902, Gemma, in good health since her miraculous cure, gave herself to God as a victim soul, offering her suffering for the salvation of souls. Jesus accepted her offer. In January of 1903, Gemma beacme seriously ill and was diagnosed with tuberculosis. She died quietly in the company of her parish priest, on Holy Saturday April 11, 1903 at the age of 25 in Borgo Nuovo di Camigliano, Lucca, Italy. He said, “She died with a smile which remained upon her lips, so that I could not convince myself that she was really dead.” Venerable Germanus Ruoppolo was her spiritual director and wrote her biography.

Her Miracles

While numerous miracles have been attributed to Gemma’s intervention in prayer after her death in 1903, the three most famous are those that the Catholic Church investigated during the process of considering Gemma for sainthood.

One miracle involved an elderly woman who had been diagnosed by doctors as terminally ill with stomach cancer. When people placed a relic of Gemma on the woman’s body and prayed for her healing, the woman fell asleep and woke up the next morning cured. Doctors confirmed that the cancer had completely disappeared from her body.

Believers say the second miracle happened when a 10-year-old girl who had cancerous ulcers on her neck and left side of her jaw (which had not been successfully treated with surgery and other medical interventions) placed a photo of Gemma directly on her ulcers and prayed: “Gemma, look at me and have pity on me; please cure me!”. Immediately afterward, doctors reported, the girl was cured of both the ulcers and the cancer.

The third miracle that the Catholic Church investigated before making Gemma a saint involved a farmer who had an ulcerous tumor on his leg that had grown so large that it prevented him from walking. The man’s daughter used a relic of Gemma to make the sign of the cross over her father’s tumor and pray for his healing. By the next day, the tumor had disappeared and the skin on the man’s leg had healed back to its normal state.

Born :                   March 12, 1878 in Camigliano, Lucca, Tuscany, Italy

Died:                    April 11, 1903 age 25 in Camigliano, Lucca, Tuscany, Italy

Beatified:            May 14, 1933 by Pope Pius XI

Canonized:         May 2, 1940 by Pope Pius XII

Feast Day:          April 11, May 16 (Passionists)

Patron Saint:    Against Tuberculosis; Apothecaries; Druggists; Loss of Parents; Paratroopers and Parachutists; Pharmacists; Students

Source:

Reflection 

One of the most striking aspects of Saint Gemma Galgani’s life is her experience of stigmata, the wounds of Christ appearing on her body. This phenomenon, while extraordinary, highlights her profound union with Christ and her willingness to share in his suffering for the redemption of humanity. Her acceptance of suffering with grace and humility serves as a powerful example of embracing one’s crosses and finding meaning in adversity.

While most of us will not experience any stigmatas, what can you do today to deepen your prayer life and embrace the transformative power of God’s love in your life?

Prayers

Saint Gemma Galgani,

You who shared in His suffering through the gift of the stigmata,

You, who remained steadfast in faith amidst life’s trials and tribulations, teach us to trust in God’s providence and to find joy in the midst of suffering.

You who had a fervent love for prayer and a profound union with the Divine, inspire us to deepen our own prayer life and to seek communion with God in all things.

Saint Gemma Galgani, pray for us and for all who invoke your aid. Amen.

 

Prayer to Saint Gemma Galgani

Saint Gemma Galgani,
Behold me at Your most holy feet,
O dear Jesus, to manifest to you my gratitude for the continual favors
which You have bestowed upon me, and still wish to bestow upon me.
As many times as I have invoked You,
O Jesus, You have made me content;
I have often had recourse to You and You have always consoled me.
How shall I express myself to You, dear Jesus?
I thank you! Yet one more grace I desire of you,
O my God, if it would be pleasing to You (here mention your request).
If you were not omnipotent, I would not make this request.
O Jesus, have pity on me. May your most holy will be done in all things

 

Saint Links 

Aleteia – Why St. Gemma Galgani laughed in the face of the devil

AnaStpaul – Saint of the Day – 11 April – St Gemma Galgani (1878-1903)

All Saints & Martyrs – Saint Maria Gemma Umberta Galgani – Mystic

Catholic Exchange – St. Gemma Galgani & Her Friendship With Her Guardian Angel by Odile Haumonté

Catholic Ireland – Apr 11 – St Gemma Galgani (1878-1903) stigmatist & mystic

Catholic Online – St. Gemma Galgani

CatholicSaints.Info – Saints of the Day – Gemma Galgani – by Katherine I Rabenstein

Learn Religions – Who Was Saint Gemma Galgani?

Newman Ministry – Saint Gemma Galgani

Reason2BCatholic – Saints Alive! | St. Gemma Galgani

Saint Gemma Galgani: The Patron Saint of Paratroopers and Parachutists

Sanctoral – Saint Gemma Galgani

The Autobiography of Saint Gemma Galgani

The Passionists of Holy Cross Province – Saint Gemma Galgani

Tradition in Action – St. Gemma Galgani – April 11 by Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

Video Link

St. Gemma Galgani – YouTube (Catholic Online)

St. Gemma Galgani, April 11 – YouTube (A D Paul)