St. Gemma Galgani: Mystic, Stigmatist, Virgin, Visionary, and Victim Soul
On April 11, the Church celebrates St. Gemma Galgani, virgin, mystic, stigmatist, visionary, and victim soul. Saint Gemma is the patron saint of: pharmacists, loss of parents, those suffering with back illnesses, back injury or pain, those struggling with temptations and those seeking purity of heart.
Gemma Galgani was born in Lucca, Italy on March 12, 1878, the fourth of eight children. Her mother, who had been a very caring woman, died at the age of thirty – five when Gemma was only seven.
For the next eighteen years the family experienced much grief and misfortune. Gemma looked after her brother who had tuberculosis and who died when he was eighteen. Her father was a prosperous pharmacist but the prolonged illness of others in the family was a drain on his resources and the family was reduced to poverty. To add to this, Gemma’s father developed cancer of the throat and Gemma nursed him with great care until his death.
Gemma had an immense love for the poor, and helped them in any way she could. After her father’s death, the nineteen – year -old Gemma became the mother of her seven brothers and sisters.
At age 20, Gemma, who from an early age had known loss and bereavement, developed a curvature of the spine. Also, meningitis set in and left her deaf. Large abscesses formed on her head, her hair fell off, and her limbs became paralyzed. A doctor examined her and attempted many remedies which all failed. She only grew worse. Her condition was such that she was helpless and dependent on others. By praying a novena to St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother (who was then Venerable Gabriel) she was miraculously cured.
Gemma bore the stigmata, receiving the wounds of Christ on her hands and feet each Thursday evening through Friday afternoon beginning in June 1889 and continuing into 1901. As a visionary, she saw her guardian angel daily, who protected and consoled her, and occasionally scolded her for her faults.
Gemma had a profound prayer life and a deep union with God. She attended Mass twice a day, while receiving communion once. She faithfully said her rosary, and in the evening, went to vespers. She never neglected any of her other duties.
In 1902, Gemma, in good health since her miraculous cure, gave herself to God as a victim soul, offering her suffering for the salvation of souls. Jesus accepted her offer. In January of 1903, Gemma beacme seriously ill and was diagnosed with tuberculosis. She died quietly in the company of her parish priest, on Holy Saturday April 11 at the age of 25. He said, “She died with a smile which remained upon her lips, so that I could not convince myself that she was really dead.” She was canonized by Pope Pius XII on May 2, 1940, just thirty-seven years after her death.
What are Her Famous Miracles?
While numerous miracles have been attributed to Gemma’s intervention in prayer after her death in 1903, the three most famous are those that the Catholic Church investigated during the process of considering Gemma for sainthood.
One miracle involved an elderly woman who had been diagnosed by doctors as terminally ill with stomach cancer. When people placed a relic of Gemma on the woman’s body and prayed for her healing, the woman fell asleep and woke up the next morning cured. Doctors confirmed that the cancer had completely disappeared from her body.
Believers say the second miracle happened when a 10-year-old girl who had cancerous ulcers on her neck and left side of her jaw (which had not been successfully treated with surgery and other medical interventions) placed a photo of Gemma directly on her ulcers and prayed: “Gemma, look at me and have pity on me; please cure me!”. Immediately afterward, doctors reported, the girl was cured of both the ulcers and the cancer.
The third miracle that the Catholic Church investigated before making Gemma a saint involved a farmer who had an ulcerous tumor on his leg that had grown so large that it prevented him from walking. The man’s daughter used a relic of Gemma to make the sign of the cross over her father’s tumor and pray for his healing. By the next day, the tumor had disappeared and the skin on the man’s leg had healed back to its normal state.
Information on miracles obtained from this website.
“If you really want to love Jesus, first learn to suffer, because suffering teaches you to love.”
“Fire! Fire in my heart! This morning it is burning…… Dear Jesus, I love you so much! I shall endeavor always to love You; I shall live to love You; I shall die to love You!” ….Give me wings oh Jesus, so I can fly to Your throne! “
“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!”
Prayer to St Gemma Galgani, invoking 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. (taken from a St. Gemma Holy Card)