The esteemed Provincial of the Passionists, Fr. Peter Paul of the Immaculate (later Monsignor Moreschini, Archbishop of Camerino) came to Lucca on the 20th of August, 1899. He received hospitality from the Giannini family, benefactors of our Order, and as Gemma but a short time before had come to share their home, he was able then and later on to satisfy himself fully about her stigmata, etc. Here in his words is the account of what happened on the 29th of August and his sentiments on that occasion. He writes-
“Having heard others speaking of this young girl and relating strange things about her, while suspecting that it was a matter of mere feminine delusions, I thought I would make sure of it with my own eyes. I went to her house, it was Tuesday, and saw the child. I felt inspired to ask Our Lord to deign to give me a palpable sign if He were truly the Author of those marvelous things. Then mentally, without speaking of it to anyone, I thought of two things: the sweat of blood and the manifestation of the stigmata.
When it was Vespers time she withdrew quite alone to say her usual prayers before the crucifix. In a few minutes she was in full ecstasy. I entered, and with my own eyes beheld her totally transfigured so that she looked like an angel, although torn by terrible pain. From her face, head and hands there flowed fresh blood, and I suppose it was the same all over her body. That flow of blood lasted for about half an hour, but did not reach the ground, because it dried quickly while flowing. I withdrew, greatly moved, and Gemma, coming out of the ecstasy, being alone with her aunt, said: "The Father has asked for signs from Jesus, and Jesus has told me that He has already given him one of them and will also give him the other. Oh, what do these signs mean? Does he say it?"
"But, Father, would the other sign you have asked for be that of the Stigmata?" I was astounded, and she continued: "I ask this because if it was so, Gemma has them already opened, come and see." I went, and found that blessed creature in ecstasy the same as the first time, with her hands pierced (I say pierced) through and through by a large freshly opened wound from which blood flowed in abundance. The affecting spectacle lasted about five minutes, [and he goes into minute description of it all, which coincides in every respect with that already given by me -Fr. Germanus]. ... With the cessation of the ecstasy the wounds closed, the blood ceased to flow and the torn skin returned at once to its natural state, so perfectly that nothing more was needed but to wash her hands in order to find that every vestige of what had happened was gone. Jesus had heard me, and thanking Him I laid aside every doubt, established in my belief that digitus Dei est hie. ["The finger of God is here."]
On the same occasion he also wrote as follows to Gemma’s Confessor, Monsignor Giovanni Volpi, the Auxiliary Bishop of Lucca:
Rt. Rev. Monsignor: I make it my duty to inform you of what I witnessed in Gemma Galgani on Tuesday the 29th of August, 1899. I saw with my own eyes the wounds on both sides of her hands, and that they were truly torn open. When the ecstasy ended everything healed up, the cicatrices alone remaining. How could such a wound heal thus instantaneously by natural means? My opinion is that it is the work of God, and I still think that you ought to place her for a time in some convent for the reasons I have given you.
-Fr. Peter Paul of the Immaculate Passionist Provincial
In his capacity as Passionist Provinical, Father Peter Paul was able to see Gemma quite often in his visits to Lucca and the surrounding areas. He wrote a second report in 1901 as follows:
“….I saw that drops of blood were oozing from the skin around her head, especially from her temples. After the lapse of twenty minutes, when she had come out of the ecstasy and washed, I saw that there no longer existed the death-like pallor and indication of pain which made her resemble Our Saviour on the Cross. She had returned to her natural color; nay, after the sweat of blood had ceased, her countenance assumed an angelic beauty.
On another occasion [thus he wrote in 1901] it was told me, that not only the stigmata, but the punishment of the scourging, the crowning with thorns and the three hours' agony on the Cross was frequently renewed in the body of this angelic girl, and that she suffered terribly. I therefore proposed to be present at that scene of pain, if God would deign to grant me this favor, as He had done before, and thus see everything with my own eyes.
Gemma, as usually happened, rose from the family table after having taken very little or no supper. After a little while I went with D. Lorenzo Agrimonti to her room and beheld her in ecstasy, already a prey to the cruel martyrdom. I remained in that room for more than two hours and a half, being determined not to leave until I had seen at least the flow of blood with my own eyes. She was having such a violent palpitation that it moved the bed-covering in the part near her heart, while her arms remained motionless and extended. The beat was so strong that it made the bed shake, and I confess that I experienced at the same time feelings of terror and devotion.
After an hour or a little more the palpitation quieted, and she began to shed blood from her head in such abundance that the pillows and sheets were soaked with it. In certain parts of her head particularly in the upper part of her forehead, blood came in such quantity that, while congealing, it became clotted in several places. From the time this flow of blood from her head ceased (it was then half-past eleven) until about three o'clock in the morning, the ecstatic, who previously had made some very slight movements, remained perfectly motionless. Her countenance seemed that of a dead person, and to see her in that state, with such a cadaverous color, her features all drawn and stained with blood, anyone would have thought her dead. All pulsation seemed to have ceased and her breathing was scarcely perceptible. Thus she passed three whole hours and then came out of the ecstasy. I saw her very soon again the same morning. She was then ready to go to church for Holy Communion, and her natural color had returned as though she had not suffered in the least.
I related to Gemma's confessor that which I had seen with my eyes and touched with my hands. We spoke at length of these facts and I told him of the good impressions they had made upon me. He begged of me to continue when an occasion offered itself to examine his penitent, and gave me faculties to hear her Confession.
|"The Blessed Gemma in ecstasy recieves the Stigmata"|
I have been able to notice in her an angelic purity. Not only did she preserve her baptismal innocence but, as far as I could ascertain, she never committed a deliberate defect during her whole life. Her humility was most profound. She was devoid of self-esteem, desiring to be humbled and corrected; and having been despised and mortified without measure, she gave no sign of the least displeasure or resentment. On the contrary, in her countenance she showed that she was more pleased than otherwise. Her obedience was singular and admirable. She never gave any opposition, even to the least hint or desire of others. She obeyed with promptitude, simplicity and joy, no matter what the nature of the command might be. She gave clear proof of this perfect obedience with regard to her prayers. Our Lord had raised her to the highest degrees of contemplation, and when her ordinary confessor bade her keep to the method of prayer for beginners, she obeyed at once, and did herself violence in order to carry his wishes into effect. She underwent this sort of martyrdom for nearly two years.
Her mortification of her senses was continuous and most severe. She took very little food, so that it seemed a miracle how she lived. And if she had not been restrained by obedience she would have deprived herself of that little; for, as she said, she felt satisfied by the Bread of Angels, which she received every morning. With her everything was good, everything was equal. In her attire she never had any ambition and never asked for any special garment. Nor did she ever seek any amusement or recreation, nor complain of cold or heat, as though she were insensible to everything. A love of suffering was with her almost characteristic. No one ever heard her utter a complaint even in the midst of the terrible pains she underwent during her long sickness, or from the violent assaults of the devil. Her constant remembrance of Jesus Crucified stimulated her to suffer always, so that she desired nothing more than suffering, and whatever she suffered seemed little.
This creature had offered herself a victim to the Sacred Heart of Jesus for the conversion of poor sinners, and for this end she willingly offered every suffering. For the same end, and still more through love, she desired continually to suffer with Jesus on the Cross, to live always on the Cross, and to die with Him on the Cross. And in this it would appear that her Divine Spouse satisfied her, because in life and in death she suffered always a cruel martyrdom of body and soul.
What shall I say of her union with God? I can certify that this was unceasing. Even in the midst of the most distracting occupations she was always recollected and in mind and heart united to God. On account of this habitual and profound recollection her voice was never heard. She answered briefly the questions that were asked her and then resumed her silence. Indeed, so intimate was her union with God that she seemed more a celestial being than a creature of earth.
Behold these are, put briefly, the virtues which Gemma practiced always, and which go to show that she was full of the love of God. Hence I hold that the wonderful phenomena which we have admired in her are the work of that God, whom she loved so much and served so well.”
(Signed) Padre Peter Paul of the Immaculate, Passionist
Concerning the testimony above, Venerable Father Germanus C.P. writes-
“The above statement of the distinguished Passionist in praise of the Virgin of Lucca is most important, and adds great value to her Biography, precisely because of the man who has written it. Better recognized as Msgr. Camillo Moreschini, Archbishop of Camerino, he is widely known and esteemed for his learning, zeal and prudence in the guidance of souls and in the Apostolic ministry. The Holy Father Pope St. Pius X, owing to his rare good qualities and after he had been Superior General of the Passionists, employed him in the Apostolic Visitation of some twelve important dioceses and then raised him to the Archbishopric of Camerino. Who does not see the importance of such a man's testimony in such a story as Gemma's? When she had been discredited by a few because of her stigmata, God in His pity and love sent first Father Cajetan, and after him Father Peter Paul, to vindicate her reputation and make known her virtues. Jacta super Dominum curam tuam et Ipse te enutriet-"Cast thy care upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee.”
Testimony of Father Cajetan C.P., Passionist
I the undersigned hereby testify and declare that in July, 1899, I saw certain extraordinary wounds on the hands of the young girl Gemma Galgani. In the inside, that is, in the palms there was seen a raised piece of flesh like the head of a nail, about as large as a half-penny. At the back of each hand there was a somewhat deep laceration that seemed to have been caused by a blunt nail forced through the hand from the opposite side.
I, and those who were with me, had no hesitation in saying that those were Stigmata which could not have come from any natural cause. In fact, we saw her hands on Thursday free from any marks. On Friday morning we found them as we have described. We examined them again on Saturday and found no mark except a small reddish cicatrix.
(Signed) Cajetan of the Child Jesus, Passionist
Testimony of Ms. Cecilia GianniniWriting to Venerable Father Germanus Ms. Giannini states-
“On the first Friday of March, March 1, 1901, I noticed that Gemma was suffering more than usual while in ecstasy. I lifted up her arm and saw great red stripes on it. On applying a handkerchief to them I found it stained with blood. She suffered greatly, and in the ecstasy
I heard her say: "But are they Thy stripes, Jesus?"
This is how they were disposed: two on one arm, from two to three inches long and very deep; two on one leg, round, and about the size of a florin; one near the middle of her breast in the direction of her throat; two very large oblong ones above the knee; one on each knee and elbow, almost laying bare the bone; one nearly round and very deep on each instep, and a long one on each shin. There were others that I could not see so well. At first they were, as I have said, in stripes; then they became deep gashes, and on being asked the reason for this, she answered: "First they were switchings, now they are scourgings."
If you wish to form some idea of it, recall to mind the large Crucifix that we have in the house, before which Gemma was in the habit of praying; she was like that. The same livid marks, the same torn open gashes in the skin and flesh in the same parts of the body, equally long and deep and equally horrifying to behold. Blood came from her wounds in great abundance. When she was standing, it flowed to the ground, and when in bed it not only wet the sheets, but saturated the whole mattress. I measured some streams or pools of this blood, and they were from twenty to twenty-five inches long and about two inches wide.”
(Signed) Cecilia Giannini
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