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Gemma Galgani is one of the Church’s mystics. She was born in Camigliano, Italy on March 12, 1878 of devout parents. The fifth child and eldest daughter in a family of eight, she was given the name “Gemma” meaning “gem”. The family later moved to Lucca where Enrico Galgani practiced as a pharmacist.

Young St Gemma GalganiGemma’s beloved mother was the first to show her the way of Christian piety. “It was Mamma,” Gemma was to say, “who made me desire to go to heaven”. But tuberculosis took Aurelia Galgani when Gemma was only seven. This great grief was softened by Gemma’s first mystical communication which assured the little girl that her mother was in Heaven.

Gemma began to attend school with the Sisters of St. Zita and was considered bright. She longed to receive Holy Communion and so begged and pleaded that she was granted the favor at age nine, then an early age for first communicants. “I feel a fire burning here” was her comment as she pointed to her heart.

At home, Gemma worked diligently to fill her mother’s shoes. She loved the poor, giving them what she could. She also taught religion to children, and visited the sick in hospitals.

By age nineteen, Gemma was doubly orphaned by the death of her father, and had also lost two brothers and a little sister.

All the while she made great strides in her spiritual life, her desire to suffer with Jesus for the good of souls increasing.

Gemma came down with a spinal meningitis that almost took her life, but was healed through the intercession of St. Gabriel Possenti of the Passionist Order who appeared to her and to whom she became greatly attached.

Refused entry into a Passionist convent, partially because of her health, Gemma submitted to God’s will.

From the time of her healing she began to experience mystical graces that eventually led to her receiving the stigmata of Christ.  At this time she and other family members were living with an aunt, and as her ecstasies became more frequent, she had little privacy or understanding.

Through the influence of the Passionists, she was introduced to the exceptionally devout Giannini family, who ultimately adopted her as a daughter. The Gianninis became the “reliquary” that enshrined the “gem” so her sanctity could develop to the fullest.

Two other great friends were to accompany Gemma during her life: her confessor Fr. Germanus, who guided her wisely and securely, and her Guardian Angel, whom she saw often, and who instructed and admonished her, delivered letters and messages to Fr. Germanus for her, and who even brought her coffee in bed during her illnesses.

On Pentecost Sunday in 1902, Gemma was stricken with a mysterious illness which led to her death on Holy Saturday in 1903. She was twenty-five.  Gemma was canonized by Pope Pius XII in 1940.

 


 

 St. Gemma and her Guardian Angel

Saint Gemma Galgani enjoyed the grace of the constant sight of her guardian angel.  

Gemma’s confessor and biographer provides us with details of her familiarity with her guardian angel.
“Gemma,” he writes, “saw him with her eyes, touched him with her hand as if he were a being of this world, remained talking with him as one friend with another. ‘Jesus has not left me alone,’ she said. ‘He makes my guardian angel stay with me always….’

“‘If I am sometimes culpable, dear Angel, don’t be angry with me. I want to be grateful to thee,’ she said to him.

“And the angel answered: ‘Yes, I shall be thy guide and inseparable companion. Dost thou not know who it is that gave me charge of thee? It is the merciful Jesus.’

“Unable to restrain her emotion at this, the angelic girl stood rapt in ecstasy with her angel. The angel sometimes let her see him raised in the air with outspread wings, his hands extended over her or joined in an attitude of prayer. At other times, he knelt beside her.

St Gemma Galgani-Oval image“I myself,” continues her confessor, “have often attended Gemma’s meditations with her angel.… I noted that every time she raised her eyes to look at the angel, listen to him, or speak to him, even aside from the time of meditation and prayer, she lost the use of her senses. At those moments one could prick, burn, or shake her without her feeling it.

“Her angel guardian was to Gemma a second Jesus, so to speak. She made known to him her own wants and those of others. In her sufferings she wanted him always by her side. She entrusted him to lay several matters before the throne of God, before the Divine Mother and her patron saints, giving him closed and sealed letters to them with a request to bring her the answers promptly. Those letters, as a matter of fact, disappeared.”

She also kept the angel busy with many letters to people in this world, often to her confessor.

“It was thus,” he writes, “that she kept the heavenly messenger continually on the move, and he most gladly favored her. Even without being called, he hastened to her in every need and danger. He restrained the power and malicious ruses of the devil, who was always just as vigilant in his efforts to do her harm. Instances are not wanting of this blessed guardian’s constant watchfulness. Once when Gemma was at table with her family, one of those present did not hesitate to blaspheme the Holy Name of God. Upon hearing this, she fainted in horror and, falling, would have dashed her head against the floor had her angel not hastened to her aid. He took her hand, supported her, and with a single word restored her.

“The most important mission of Gemma’s angel was in what concerned her spiritual advancement. While he served on one side as her watchful protector, on the other she found in him a perfect master of Christian perfection.

“The holy guardian knew how to show severity when necessary. One day she told me of this in the following words: ‘My angel is a bit severe, but I am glad for it. During the past few days he called me to order as many as three or four times a day.’

“Seeing the great charity lavished on her, Gemma loved her angel immensely, and his name was always on her lips as well as in her heart. ‘Dear Angel,’ she would say, ‘I so love you!’

“‘And why?’ he would ask.

“‘Because you teach me to be good, to remain humble, and to please Jesus.’

“Another time, Gemma wrote: ‘I was in bed, suffering greatly, when I suddenly became absorbed in prayer. I folded my hands and, moved with heartfelt sorrow for my countless sins, I made an act of deep contrition. My mind was wholly plunged in this abyss of crime against my God when I beheld my angel standing by my bed. I felt ashamed of being in his presence, but he was more than courteous with me, and said kindly: “Jesus loves thee greatly; love Him greatly in return.” Then he added: “Art thou fond of Jesus’ Mother? Salute her very often, for she values such attention very much and unfailingly returns the greetings offered her; and if thou dost not feel that she does, know that thus she makes a proof of thine unfailing trust.” He blessed me and disappeared.’”

May Saint Gemma’s intimacy with her angel, so simple, spontaneous, and full of profound humility, be an example for us all.

 


Excerpts taken from Fr. Germanus C.P. (her spiritual director), Blessed Gemma Galgani, 1903, pp. 207-216.


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Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for September 30, 2020

Either we must speak as we dress, or dress as we speak. Why...

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September 30

 

Either we must speak as we dress,
or dress as we speak.
Why do we profess one thing and display another?
The tongue talks of chastity, but the whole body reveals impurity.

St. Jerome


My Mother, I will stand with you on OCTOBER 10, 2020

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Jerome

He became seriously ill and had a dream that profoundly impa...

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St. Jerome

St. Jerome is a Father and Doctor of the Church who is best known for his compiling of the Vulgate version of the Catholic Bible, now the standard edition in use.

He was born about the year 347 at Stidon, near Dalmatia, to wealthy Christian parents. Initially educated at home, his parents soon sent him to Rome to further his intense desire for intellectual learning. There he studied and excelled at grammar, Latin and Greek, rhetoric, and philosophy, and lived a deeply materialistic life alongside his fellow students. Jerome was baptized in his late teen years, as was the custom at the time, around the time he finished his schooling.

After spending many years in travel and, notably, discovering and investigating his extreme interest in monasticism, Jerome’s life took a sudden turn. In the spring of 375, he became seriously ill and had a dream that profoundly impacted him, because in it he was accused of being a follower of Cicero – an early Roman philosopher – and not a Christian. Afterwards, Jerome vowed never to read any pagan literature again – not even the classics for pleasure. He separated himself from society and left to become a hermit in the desert so as to atone for his sins and dedicate himself to God. Having no experience of monasticism and no guide to direct him, Jerome suffered greatly and was often quite ill. He was plagued terribly with temptations of the flesh and would impose harsh penances on himself to repress them. While there, he undertook the learning of Hebrew, as an added penance, and was tutored by a Jewish convert. When controversy arose among his fellow monks in the desert concerning the bishopric of Antioch, Jerome left to avoid the tension of the position he found himself in.

Having developed a reputation as a great scholar and ascetic, Jerome was ordained to the priesthood by the persuasion of Bishop Paulinus, on the condition that he be allowed to continue his monastic lifestyle and not be obliged to assume pastoral duties.

In 382, he was appointed as secretary to Pope Damascus, who urged him to undertake a Latin translation of the Bible from its original Greek and Hebrew origins.

After the death of the Holy Pontiff, Jerome left Rome for the Holy Land with a small group of virgins who were led by his close friend, Paula. Under his direction, Paula established a monastery for men in Bethlehem and three cloisters for women. Jerome remained at this monastery until his death around A.D. 420, only leaving occasionally for brief trips. He is the patron saint of librarians and translators.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

In his book, The Secret of the Rosary, St. Louis de Montfort...

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The Rosary, the Devil and the Queen

In his book, The Secret of the Rosary, St. Louis de Montfort relates that Blessed Thomas of St. John was a great devotee of the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As such, he was known for his powerful, moving sermons on the Rosary, which led people to adopt this devotion to their great benefit.

Furiously jealous of the holy man’s success with souls, the devil began to so torture Thomas that he fell sick, and was so ill for so long that the doctors gave up on saving his life.

One night, when the poor man thought he was near death, the devil appeared to him in a hideous form, coward that he is, seeking to frighten Thomas into despair.

But, making an effort, the good priest turned to a beautiful picture of Our Lady near his bed crying out with all his heart and strength:

“Help me, save me, my sweet, sweet Mother!”

No sooner had he pronounced these words, the picture came alive and extending her hand, the heavenly Lady laid it reassuringly on the priest’s arm, saying:

“Do not be afraid, Thomas my son, here I am and I am going to save you. Get up now and go on preaching my Rosary as you did before. I promise to shield and protect you from your enemies.”

No sooner had Our Lady pronounced these words, than the devil fled in a hurry. Getting up, Thomas found that he was perfectly healed. 

Thanking the Blessed Mother with tears of joy, Blessed Thomas again went about preaching the Holy Rosary, now with renewed favor and gumption, and his apostolate and his sermons were enormously successful. 

St. Louis the Montfort concludes this story saying, “Our lady not only blesses those who say her Rosary, but also abundantly rewards those who, by their example, inspire others to say it as well.”

 


 

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In his book, The Secret of the Rosary, St. Louis de Montfort relates that Blessed Thomas of St. John was a great devotee of the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

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