April 2007 - Volume 11, Issue 9

Saint Of The Month

St. Gemma Galgani - April 11

Photo of Saint GalganiGemma was born on March 12, 1878 as the fifth child of pharmacist Enrico Galgani and his wife Aurelia. When she was eight, her mother died of tuberculosis. The girl found solace in taking the Holy Communion in 1887, which required a special consent from the bishop at that time. Since then, Bishop of Lucca, Giovanni Volpi was Gemma's spiritual guide and one of the confidants of her unusual experiences.

In the girls' school that she attended from 1889-1893, Gemma was a talented student. She was even expected to go to college, which was a rare case for women in the 19th century. But her father was afraid that studies might affect her health.

In 1896 she had to undergo a painful surgery due to tuberculosis of the spine, a life-threatening condition. In addition, health problems brought her father to bankruptcy and to death in 1897. So Gemma became an orphan at the age of 19.

She was ill and had no property. She lived with relatives who did not understand her suffering and often humiliated and ridiculed her. She would bear it with patience because she had passionate love for Crucified Jesus. She wanted to experience that love as a nun. However, she was not accepted to a nunnery due to her poor health and a lack of dowry. Still, she led a nun's life filled with penance. Her health continued to deteriorate and on June 8, 1899 her suffering increased further. She received the stigmata. Although in great pain, she was happy to be so close to her beloved Savior. In 1900, Fr. Germano, a Passionist, became her spiritual guide who appreciated the significance of her mystic experiences.

Gemma died on Holy Saturday, April 11, 1903, and was canonized on May 2, 1940

You granted St. Gemma Galgani
with the mystical grace of carrying
the signed of Passion of your Son,
grant that through living in accordance with the Gospel
we can imitate Jesus who in unity with You
lives and reigns for ages and ages. Amen.

From Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives