Spirituality for Today – February 2012 – Volume 16, Issue 7

Saint of the Month
St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, February 27

An image of Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of SorrowsSaint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

He was born on March 1, 1838 in Assisi. His Christian name was Francesco. His father was a high-ranking official in the Papal States. His mother had poor health and died when he was only four. Although his father fulfilled his family obligations very well, helped by the older daughter Maria Louisa, he could not fill the void created in the small boy's heart by his mother's departure.

Francesco went to a secondary school run by Jesuits. He was an outstanding student. He was expected to pursue a brilliant career, just like his father. His affection for social life and entertainment seemed to confirm the opinion that he was the serve God and the Church as a layperson, and not as a cleric like his two brothers. But Francesco had his own secrets.

When he was severely ill at the age of 12, he pledged to God that he would devote his life to Him. When he was 17, he went to the Jesuit province superior, asking to be accepted into the Society of Jesus. The request was rejected due to his young age and his father's unsupportive attitude. He eventually joined an order in 1856, not the Jesuits, but the Passionists who followed a much stricter rule. There, he received the name Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows. In this way, he wanted to offer himself for his family.

Accustomed to life in comfort, Gabriel was patiently bearing the strict monastic life and related sacrifice. He made every effort to be an example of service. In the period of tension and social revolutions he proved that love of God and neighbor erased any divisions. Exhausted by the hardships of monastic life and by illness, he died of tuberculosis on February 27, 1862, not achieving the priesthood he was dreaming of.

Pope Pius X counted him among the blessed in 1908. He was canonized in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV.

Jesus, you call pure and righteous people to imitate You;
let us, through St. Gabriel, feel compassion for your Passion
and sorrow for your Mother so that we can enjoy our share in the glory of your Resurrection.
You live and reign for ever and ever. Amen.

From Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives