Lives of the Saints

Our Models and Protectors

April 11

Saint Gemma Galgani


Saint Gemma Galgani
Saint Gemma Galgani

Saint Gemma Galgani was born at Camigliano in Tuscany, Italy, in 1878. Her mother died when she was seven years old, and from that time on her life was one of continuous suffering. Her afflictions were caused by ill-health, by the poverty into which her family fell, by the scoffing of those who took offense at her practices of devotion, and finally, by the physical attacks of the devil. Through it all, however, she remained at peace and enjoyed constant communion with our Lord, who spoke to her as if He were bodily present. She earnestly desired to be a Passionist nun, but was not accepted because of her physical infirmities.

She was the subject of various extraordinary supernatural phenomena — visions, ecstasies, revelations, supernatural knowledge, conversations with her visible Guardian Angel, prophecy and miracles. Her director verified that letters which she wrote and committed to the care of her good Angel were infallibly delivered. Saint Gemma had periodically occurring stigmata between 1899 and 1901. At one time during her sufferings, she was asked: If Jesus gave you the choice between two alternatives, either going immediately to heaven and having your sufferings disappear, or else remaining here in suffering to procure still more glory for the Lord, which would you choose? She answered: I prefer to remain here rather than going to heaven, when it is a question of suffering for Jesus and His glory. She died on Holy Saturday in 1903 and was canonized in 1940.

Reflection. Often say with Saint Augustine: Write, O most loving Saviour, Thy wounds upon my heart, that I may always read in them Thy pains and Thy love. The afflictions that God sends us are really mercies and blessings; they are the very precious talents which we must increase, augmenting our love and affection for God by the practice of virtue.

Lives of the Saints for Every Day of the Year (Reprint of the work of John Gilmary Shea, with Appendix including recently canonized Saints, Benziger Brothers: New York, 1955. Third Edition, Tan Books and Publishers: Rockford, 1995); Sainte Gemma Galgani, by Sr. Jesualde du St. Esprit, O.C.D. (Apostolate of the Press: Sherbrooke, 1949), p. 296