Neither are the souls of the pious dead separated from the Church which even now is the kingdom of Christ. Otherwise there would be no remembrance of them at the altar of God in the communication of the Body of Christ. -- Saint Augustine of Hippo from “The City of God

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

St Gemma Galgani

Just as France was in political turmiol, Italy did not fair much better, for they too were placed in a difficult position by the Franco/Prussian war. But it was in the year 1870 that France withdrew its garrison from Rome, which left the Holy city exposed and Pope Pius IX in an invidious position, where he described himself a prisoner in the Vatican. This difficulty with the Holy See would not be resolved until the concordant of 1929.

To help establish some form of stability, the government of the day decided to form a Monarchy once Italy had been unified, and recognised as a country in its own right. Hence in 1878 the throne went to King Umberto I.

And it was in the year 1878 that Gemma Galgani was born into a prosperous family in the Lucca area of Italy. The Galgani's Henry and Aurelia were noted as devout Catholics, and a loving family which consisted of eight children.

Both parents of Gemma made sure to instruct all their children as to the tenets of their faith, and it was Aurelia Galgani who especially revered and taught her children a deep love of Christ and Him Crucified.

Sadly Aurelia did not live a long life and died when Gemma was only 8 years old. As one can imagine, little Gemma was devastated to lose the Mother she so loved. But even from this early age, Gemma was experiencing Mystical moments with our Lord.

Henry Galgani decided to send his daughter to a boarding school, in the hope that they would teach her the fine arts of cooking and managing a home, but, also to instruct her in the Faith. Gemma did well in school and proved herself to be an apt pupil and it was because of her religious knowledge and devoutness that Gemma was given permission to receive her first Communion at the early age of 9 years.

But once again the shadow of death loomed over the Galgani family, and in 1897 Gemma's beloved father died, and it was then that the family discovered that due to some corrupt business men, the remaining Galgani children were left penniless.

Through this difficult time Gemma too became very ill, as abscesses formed and she became deaf, she was visited by a religious Sister, who took pity upon her and left her a prayer card. Gemma began praying to Brother Gabriel who had been in the Passionist Order, her prayers were answered and Gemma was miraculously healed.

During this illness, it was discovered that Gemma was receiving Divine help and intercession, she heard our Lord speaking to her and also, Brother Gabriel appeared to her and revealed to her that she too would be his Sister in the same Order. Father Gabriel would later be Canonized by the Church.

But it was on the Feast of the Sacred Heart that Gemma had a most profound experience, and felt such a grief over her own sins this sadness pierced her very soul. It was then that our Lord and Lady appeared before Gemma, where our Lady placed her Mantle over Gemma, whilst our Lord opened the wounds he had suffered, whilst fire poured forth from each wound and Gemma then received the Stigmata.

Upon these occurrences Gemma spoke to Father Cajetan, he gave her permission to take private Vows, and arranged a better style of living arrangement for this very devout young lady. Gemma was to be welcomed in by the prominent Gianini family and it was while staying with the Gianini family that Gemma met Father Germano, a fortuitous meeting.

Father Germano was a well known Scholar of great repute when writing about Mystical theology, he was also at the time he met Gemma, working on the Beatification process of Brother Gabriel.

Gemma had always led a deep prayer life and was the recipient of many extraordinary events including the Stigmata; she also had many encounters with her Angels, Brother Gabriel, Our Lord and Lady. But this holy soul also battled with the demons and the devil himself, as he tried to destroy this Holy girl from spreading the love of Jesus.

The one thing that was truly exceptional about this holy soul was her devout love and obedience to our Lord and Saviour and the Catholic Church. Gemma was a humble soul, who when she was in prayer, requested that our Lord remove the visible stigmata in favour of the invisible, our Lord granted her request. This saved Gemma from being the centre of attention, when what she wanted to do, was for everyone to focus and stay focussed on our Lord and not herself, no wonder Satan fought bitterly with her!

Gemma was fearless when encountering the devil, and though he tried to torment her and discourage her, Gemma instead threw herself more and more and with great Confidence into the arms of our Lord and Lady. It was at this time that Gemma requested in prayer to our Lord to become a victim soul for the salvation of souls, once again Jesus accepted her request.

Gemma became very ill in the year 1902 and during this most distressing of times, her valour and courage was extraordinary. She fought off attacks by the devil as he tempted her to despair, but through all these attacks, through her immense pain and anguish Gemma never once lost nor even questioned her Faith, she simply trusted in our Lords Love, and prayed constantly.

Gemma Galgani died in the year 1903, she was only 25 years old.

St. Gemma Galgani was canonized in 1940 by Pope Pius Xll.

Peace of Christ to you ALL

Copyright © 2005 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.
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