Monday, September 12, 2011

St Gemma Galgani, the Passion Flower

St Gemma Galgani
"The Gem of Christ"
Saint of the Passion of Jesus
post adapted from written by
Glenn Dallaire 
I wish, oh Jesus, that my voice could reach to the ends of the world, to call all sinners and tell them to enter into Thy Heart....Oh, if only all sinners would come to Thy Heart!... Come! Come sinners, do not be afraid! The sword of Justice cannot reach you Here!"~St Gemma Galgani

Young saints fascinate me. I gravitate to the stories of the innocent who have dedicated their lives to Christ at a young age. Me, at almost 60, is just now getting the hang of it! How could one not admire, 18 year old Blessed Chiara Luce Badano (see my post on her beatification) and what about the Children of Fatima?  I think their sacrifice, their love and devotion is made even more profound because of the contrast in the behavior of many young folk today.  On that note: I'm so proud of all the youth who had visited Madrid, Spain to see Pope Benedict and those in years past who made the pilgrimage during World Youth Day. How special and blessed they all are!

I first heard of St. Gemma through my brother-in-law, David. He visited Italy where his Italian born mother-in-law "introduced" him to this beautiful saint. David had an immediate soft spot for her. Perhaps, it was his own suffering that helped form this bond. You see, David, suffered a debilitating blood disease. He endured excruciating pain for over 11 years and on many occasions spent his vacation bed-ridden in a hotel room. He hated to deny his young wife the pleasure of traveling and enjoying life, so he forced himself to accompany her on various trips. On one of these trips, he lay in a bed, in a strange country, in a strange room and stared endlessly at a photo of St. Gemma, praying to her to intercede for him and others. David was a saint in his own right. He never complained or asked, "Why me?" Rather, he'd say, "Why not, me?" Over and over, he would ask us to pray for someone who was suffering, too. He was sweet and kind with a generous heart. David died peacefully at the age of 46. I have no doubt that St. Gemma greeted him at Heaven's gate.

Having lost her mother at a young age, St. Gemma, had a deep and intense devotion to the Blessed Mother. “If God has taken away my mother,” she would often say, “He has left me His own.”  .

On Thursday, June 8th, the eve of the Feast of the Sacred Heart, when she began, as usual, to make the Holy Hour, she felt a piercing sorrow for her sins such as she had never experienced, and a peculiarly vivid sense of the sufferings of Jesus. Suddenly she was rapt in ecstasy and found herself in presence of her heavenly Mother and her Guardian Angel. The phenomenon was repeated regularly every Thursday evening. Gemma seemed to pass through all the phases of the Passion and bore in her body all the marks of Christ's physical sufferings: not only the wounds in hands, feet, and side, but the punctures of the crown of thorns, the marks of the scourging, the wound on the shoulder caused by the weight of the Cross, all accompanied with the most excruciating pain. Throughout those hours she engaged in loving conversations and colloquies with Jesus in a low voice, often tenderly pleading for mercy for sinners and offering herself as a victim in expiation for their sins.
Gemma’s whole life indeed was one long uninterrupted sacrifice of the most heroic kind. To win souls for Jesus through prayer and suffering was the one passion of her life. A witness stated, “She was much afflicted by the thought of the sins committed in the world and she often offered herself to God on behalf of sinners.”

Life was not easy for Gemma. Like David, she suffered a series of illness from a severe foot infection to spinal tuberculosis. Her poor health prevented her from entering the religious life. But her devotion to Christ never wavered. Though denied entry into the Passionist community, she modeled her life after the nuns she so admired, and led the life of a Passionist Nun outside the cloister. She strictly adhered to the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience.
St. Gemma during
her illness
Toward the end of her life, Gemma, focused much of her prayers on the establishment of a convent for the Passionist Nuns in Lucca.  She even searched Lucca more than once for a suitable site and interested herself in the material funds necessary for the foundation. Two years after Gemma’s death the first little group of Passionist Sisters came to Lucca, and though they met with many obstacles and disappointments, a full community took possession of the new convent in 1908. Her hope to become a Passionist nun was eventually realized after her death. She was known to have said,“I no longer ask to enter a convent . . . . Jesus has the habit of a Passionist nun waiting for me at the gates of Heaven." And "The Passionist nuns would not accept me,” she had said, “but for all that I wish to be one of them, and I shall be with them when I am dead.”

On Good Friday, she entered with outstretched arms into a prolonged ecstasy, nailed, as she said, with Jesus to the Cross. The end came peacefully when with a look of seraphic joy on her face she gave up her pure soul to God an hour after midday on Holy Saturday, April 11th, 1903. Gemma Galgani was beatified by Pope Pius XI on May 14th, 1933, and canonized by Pope Pius XII on Ascension Thursday, May 2nd, 1940. Today the Passionist convent in Lucca continues to flourish. Gemma’s body reposes near the altar in the little chapel and the nuns venerate her as their foundress and the patroness of their work. The feast of St Gemma is April 11th (and also May 16th for those in the Passionist Congregation).       St. Gemma Booklet Offer

"I have loved You, oh Jesus. Grant me to love You even more, so that my thoughts turn only to You, all day, and all night, even while sleeping ... I wish my spirit to talk always with You, my soul to converse always with You." -St Gemma Glagani

Much of the credit for this post goes to Glenn Dallaire, a devout Catholic father and husband. His love and admiration of St. Gemma prompted him to write a most remarkable blog, St. Gemma Galgani. I was just fortunate to find it and share it with the wonderful bloggers who read, The Crooked Halo. His outstanding writing doesn't stop here, so read....Mystics Of The Church, Miracles Of The Saints, St. Paul Of The Cross, & Miracles Of The Church.  I feel so blessed to have discovered this wealth of spiritual information and humbled that Christ led me to Glenn's blogs. Oh,  and I bet David had a hand in this "coincidence", too. Thanks, Davey.
Prayer to St Gemma Asking For Her Intercession

Oh holy Gemma, I am near you, help me to pray. You who know what I and those near me need; look after my urgent needs and my spiritual and material wants. You take care of them! I confide in you and entrust all to your loving care.
Offer up to Jesus that tender and constant care that you bore Him here on earth.
Oh holy Gemma, you who physically suffered all the pains of the Passion of Jesus, I beseech of you the grace to meditate on and live the Passion of Jesus, and the sufferings of Holy Mary. Pray that I will be able to walk in the path of humility, simplicity, love and sacrifice, fulfilling at all times and in all ways, the holy will of God. Let me live united with Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and you, for all eternity. Amen  
St. Gemma, pray for us!
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