St. Gemma Galgani (Feast: 11 April)
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.
Gemma’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.
DAILY QUOTE for February 23, 2020
SAINT OF THE DAY
Catholics proclaim their Faith in the public square as they go about marked with a black cross.