Source for this information is from the book “A Lover of the Cross –Saint Gemma Galgani" by MONASTERO-SANTUARIO di SANTA GEMMA -1940
Saint Augustine once wrote “Only through the degrees of humility can one reach heaven. God is infinitely perfect, and pride keeps us far from Him, but through humility we are able to approach Him.”
Gemma understood this and her sanctity is demonstrated not by the extraordinary gifts and graces that God generously bestowed on her, but by her heroic practice of virtues- and above all, the virtue of humility.
God chose Gemma as His spouse, uniting her to Him in a mystical and spiritual union and as the bonds between Him and Gemma grew stronger, He granted to her some of the greatest gifts that are rarely bestowed on an earthly creature. All these marvels were a wonder to those who saw them, but how many times Gemma begged God to withdraw them and to give them to some other soul who would know better how to repay them!
To her spiritual director she confided: “If you only saw how horrible my soul is! Jesus has made me see it... Oh, how much I ought to marvel at the infinite mercy of God! Yes, Jesus is indeed my Jesus! He is full of goodness to me, a miserable and most ungrateful sinner. He has wrought again the miracle of my conversion. Through the light that He has deigned to grant me, I have come to know of my baseness.”
Gemma’s great friend, Euphemia Giannini, who later became a Passionist with the name of Mother Gemma says: “Fully gifted as she was, only a tiny bit of pride would have overthrown her great spiritual building. Yet, as if she had known nothing of all this, she always remained at her place, the last one, serene and tranquil. She did not perceive if people either loved her or bore her ill will; if they cared for her or not. Praise and blame left her indifferent. She had known the truth about herself, and she lived according to that truth, and was always very happy of her nothingness. She had learned to know the importance of this virtue and to love it, through a vision she had which she herself told me. Jesus showed her an immense plain covered with trees, in the midst there was a square where a stately tree stood higher than the others, and He said: - These trees are virtues; the highest and stateliest one is humility.
It was this feeling of humility that once prompted her to tell my Aunt Cecilia: - "...You must think that you are doing for a poor man in the street what you are doing for me, otherwise you merit nothing."
*(Eufemia Giannini was Gemma’s favorite of the Giannini children and the confidant of many of her secrets. She was her devoted attendant during the time of Gemma’s last illness and she was present at her death. Eufemia would later become a Passionist nun, taking the name of “Gemma”, and in 1939 she founded the “Passionist Sisters of St Gemma Galgani”, and she became the Mother of the new Community. She died in 1971, and was officially declared “Venerable” by Pope Benedict XVI on March 15th, 2008. Thus, she is now officially “Venerable Gemma Giannini”-editor)
'I have read your letter. Oh my God, have mercy on me! It is true, too true, that pride is in me. Listen, Father. I no sooner read that word pride than the devil seized on it in order to drive me almost to despair. I had already passed a very bad hour, and at last, driven to extremes, I ran to the crucifix and, prostrate on my face, asked pardon many times and implored of Him to let me die there and then at His feet. But this was not granted me. A few moments later tranquility and peace suddenly returned. Poor Jesus! Oh, how often do I not cause Thee pain! Where am I going to end if I continue in this way? But no! I won't be so any more, and I ask your pardon, Father. Don't be angry with me: You shall see; I won't do the same thing again. Your letter said what was true, and I thank you for it on my knees. But why let me trouble you so? Don't you know that I have a thick head and little intelligence? Then forgive me, and I will never again displease you. What pain I must have given Jesus by these proud thoughts!'
Not even she could tell what those thoughts were, but simply she believed what her director had said. Then she continued:
'Father, ask Jesus to forgive me in pity for my poor soul. Instead of being always good, I have managed to get filled with malice and iniquity and pride. Yet Jesus has given me the grace to acknowledge this wicked sin, and now He enables me to correct it. [Then she further adds,] I tremble; I fear that Jesus will punish me because I have offended Him and displeased you. Do you know the punishment I fear, -and I shall deserve it- to be condemned not to love my Jesus any more. No, no! Let Jesus punish me in any other way that He chooses, but not this. Father, if you still find pride in me, don't delay; put an end to me; do all that is possible, but take the pride quickly from me.'
In her youth when she was at the school of the Zitine Sisters, she became proficient at painting, some of her water-colors being so good that they were judged worthy of public exhibition. Because of this her Aunt Elisa tried to persuade her to paint a picture so as to let her father see how capable she was. But she could not be induced to do so, and she gave this as her reason: 'No, because it might afterwards be hung in the drawing-room, and everyone would see what Gemma has done. That is vanity and I do not want it. Besides, you praised me the other day for a trifle I did for you, and I did not like it because I do not wish to be praised.' On another occasion her aunt asked her to give French lessons, but the only answer she received was: 'Truly, I am very ignorant.'
See also this article for more on the humility of Saint Gemma:
“How is it that God who is so great and so worthy of being loved should be offended by me? And who am I to dare so much? ...My poor Jesus!” –St Gemma Galgani