Those who admire the life and virtues of Saint Gemma Galgani are in good company. Five Popes and at least three great Saints, along with two "Venerables" and one "Blessed", among countless holy people have expressed an admiration or devotion to St Gemma, the "Lily of Lucca". Below are some examples.
-St Maximilian Kolbe wrote to his mother on March 1, 1921- "I have recently recieved the 'Life of Gemma Galgani'. I have read it three times already and it enchants me. Reading it does me more good than a series of spiritual exercises. "
It has been recounted in several biographies how St Maximilian would often quote one of Gemma's sayings in particular: "Love without limit." Several biographies also recount how delighted St Maximilian was to be able, "by chance" to have participated in the beatification of St Gemma on May 14, 1933.
-In a letter from Saint Padre Pio to his spiritual director, Padre Benedict, dated May 2, 1921, Pio writes: "....Moreover I am asking you for charity: I would like to read the book "Letters and Ecstasies of the Servant of God, Gemma Galgani", as well as the other one of the same servant of God, "The Holy hour". I am sure that you will agree and meet my desire. Bless me. Padre Pio."
In fact, while Padre Pio's writings were being recently scrutinised in preparation for his canonisation on June 16, 2002, it was discovered that in some of his letters, he copied, word for word, entire tracts of St Gemma's writings into his own letters. This "holy plagiarism" is discussed in the link below. In such a circumstance we can conclude that St Pio felt an affiliation at that time in his spiritual life and mystical experiences with the experiences that Gemma had undergone years before, especially in what concerned the stigmata and the role of "soul victim" of which they both shared.
For more info St Pio's devotion to St Gemma, see:
(The details of Padre Pio's devotion to St. Gemma Galgani can be found in the book "Nella comunione dei santi. Santa Gemma Galgani a San Pio da Pietralcina" by Luca Lucchini. ) -Currently this book is only availible in Italian.
St Gabriel Possenti CP and St Gemma had a very special relationship. Bedridden during a severe illness, Gemma was providentially given a book on the life of St Gabriel (at that time he was a Venerable) and once she began reading the Life she immediately felt a strong devotion to him. She began praying to him and during this time her illness took a turn for the worse and the attending Doctors gave up hope for her, and death was soon expected. However, brother Gabriel appeared to her daily in a series of visions and encouraged her and helped her pray a novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. On several occasions, while looking intently at Gemma, he said "My Sister!", with a heavenly smile playing upon his lips. He also took his Passionist badge and placed it on her chest. On the last day of the Novena, Jesus appeared to Gemma and she was miraculously cured. On another occasion, when she was being attacked by the devil, St Gabriel appeared and gave her his Passionist belt. For more information about St Gabriel Possenti's affection for Gemma, see:
On the Official Diocesian website for Blessed Alberto Marvelli we read-
".....He [Blessed Alberto] always kept in mind Jesus' frightful agony in the Getsemani, as well as his shockingly disfigured face because of the superhuman anguishes of His passion and his crucifixion. It is easy to understand why S. Gemma Galgani, the saint girl so devoted to Jesus agonizing and crucified, might have been so dear to Alberto."
I wrote to the Vice Postulator for the cause of Blessed Alberto Marvelli, Mons. Fausto Lanfranchi, concerning Blessed Alberto's devotion to Saint Gemma, and on July 14, 2009 he kindly replied:
"....In 1941, Alberto wrote on his personal calendar on December 19 a list of books to recommend to the young; books that he had certainly read. On this list is the biography of Gemma Galgani, written by Athos-Carroso. Also, Alberto always kept in his wallet a small image of St. Gemma....."
Another website has this to say about Blessed Alberto devotion to St Gemma:
"Bl. Alberto's spiritual friends included St. Gemma Galgani, for whom he had a tender devotion and drew inspiration for his deep love of the passion of Christ.
Venerable Gemma Giannini (Eufemia Giannini) was Gemma’s favorite of the Giannini children and the confidant of many of her secrets. She was her devoted helper during the time of Gemma’s last illness and she was present at her death. Not long before her death, Eufemia was present during one of Gemma's horrible coughing fits (due to advanced tuberculosis) and during this time while Gemma was coughing up blood and struggling to breathe, she turned to Euphemia and said "See, Eufemia, how Jesus is to be loved!"
Eufemia would later become a Passionist nun, taking the name of “Gemma”, and in 1939 she founded the religious Community of the “Passionist Sisters of St Gemma Galgani”, and she became the Mother of the new Community. She died in 1971, and has been officially declared “Venerable” by Pope Benedict XVI on March 15th, 2008. Thus, she is now officially “Venerable [Mother] Eufemia Gemma Giannini.”
Venerable Father Germanus (Germano) Ruoppolo CP, was a Roman Catholic priest in the Passionist order. He was born in Naples on January 17th,1850, and died on December 11th, 1909. His name in religion was Father Germanus of St. Stanislaus. He was the spiritual director of St Gemma Galgani beginning in September, 1900. After her death he wrote “The Life of St Gemma Galgani”, which is the foremost work on the life of St. Gemma. In early 1909 he also published a book contaning many of Gemma's ecstacies and letters. He was an accomplished and respected Archeologist. He was also the official Postulator for the cause for canonization of the Passionist brother, Saint Gabriel Possenti. Through both Father Germano and Gemma’s writings, one can easily detect the spiritual communion and love between Father Germanus and Gemma. Their souls were united in a bond of love for God. Father Germano bore a spiritual paternal love towards Gemma, and Gemma loved him as a spiritual Father in Christ, at times even calling him affectionately “Mia Papa”. His venerable remains are kept close to Gemma in the Monestary-Sanctuary of St Gemma in Lucca, Italy. Click here for more information of Ven. Father Germanus.
-In the Bob and Penny Lord "Good NewsLetter" for May 2008 they write-
".....For the weekend of April 20, we went to EWTN and the Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama, to visit and celebrate with Mother Angelica, her 85th birthday. We were smart enough to go to Hanceville on Saturday; the day before the big event, so that we would hopefully be able to spend some quality time with Mother, and give her the presents we brought her for her birthday. She has a great love for St. Gemma Galgani, so we brought her a statue of St. Gemma, which we brought back from her Shrine in Italy, as well as a DVD on St. Gemma's life. We also gave Mother our book, Visionaries, Mystics and Stigmatists, which has a chapter on St. Gemma."
Taken from: http://bobandpennylordblog.blogspot.com/2008/05/goodnewsletter-articles-may-2008.html
We can include this part of the article with the following information concerning the extraordinary Portuguese mystic and victim soul, Blessed Alexandrina da Costa and her devotion to St Gemma.
|Photo of Gemma that is in Bl. Alexandrina's bedroom|
"I attach the St. Gemma picture which is in the Alexandrina's bedroom. It is in very bad state, but it is there.
Considering that Blessed Alexandrina was completely bedridden due to a spinal injury, one can only imagine how many times over the years she must have gazed upon this photo of St Gemma and in prayer sought her holy intercession, and we can assume that she took comfort in knowing the life of St Gemma, as it very much mirrored her own life as a victim soul for the love of Jesus and the love of souls.
|Blessed Maria Bolognesi (1924-1980)|
On September 29, 1959, Maria went to the Shrine of St. Gemma Galgani in Lucca to visit her “little saint.” She wrote in her diary:
“When I found myself in front of St. Gemma (her tomb), I let my heart speak to her. I entrusted to her all my sinners, my poor and my sick. I would have never moved away from that face...You Little Gemma (Gemmina) of Jesus, pray that we may always feel holy love growing in us.
What five Popes have said about Saint Gemma
-During her Beatification, while reading the decree for the heroicity of virtues, the Holy Father, Pope Pius XI stated that the little virgin of Lucca had "bore in her flesh the wounds of Christ."
All day long afterwards, in his transcendent happiness, the Passionist Father and Postulator Rev. Egidius, C. P, who has fought so hard for the cause of Gemma, went about asking radiantly of all he met: "Did you hear what the Holy Father said? He said with his own lips that she 'bore in her flesh the Wounds of Christ'!"
And after the above statement, while looking back thirty years into the past, Pope Pius XI after reading the decree that proclaimed heroic the virtue of the holy Maid of Lucca, then said in an allocution to the Cardinals:
"What has happened today is something greater and more remarkable than what ordinarily happens. It has come about in God's own way. He exalts the humble and makes them first in His Kingdom."Then, though he had known her only by sight, the Holy Father added:
"I can see her once more before me, dressed in black, wearing her mantellette, not very tall, light of step, almost silent, with a transfigured face, with sweet and soft large eyes made to see immortal things.
"Comparing her figure, which I keep alive and present in my mind, with her portrait, I find my recollection to be true. That face, luminous and peaceful, remains and will remain in my mind and heart as the face of a saint. Who would have thought at the time, when a heated controversy was waging around this girl, and people alternately sided for and against her - even though her virtue was ever held in high esteem - who would have thought of today's triumph and of the great things Divine Providence reserves for the morrow?"
-Pope Saint Pius X, after reading Venerable Father Germano’s “The Life of St. Gemma Galgani”, had his Cardinal Secretary of State, Cardinal Merry Del Val, write to Father Germano the following-“The Holy Father has charged me to make to make known to you the deep pleasure he derived from reading your book (in which you display a deep knowledge of mystical Theology)* and describe the riches of extraordinary graces that Our Lord poured so abundantly into the soul of that innocent maiden. The August Pontiff trusts that by reading this Life, hearts may become more inflamed with that love of the supernatural which the enemies of the Faith strive to obliterate”.
* The words in parenthesis are in the original letter, but were left out of "The Life of St Gemma Galgani" by Father Germanus out of humility in the editions that he published while he lived.
-Pope Benedict XVI in a speech to young people in Loreto, on September 2, 2007-
"....In following Christ and imitating Mary, we must have the courage of humility; we must
entrust ourselves humbly to the Lord, because only in this way will we be able to become
docile instruments in his hands and allow him to do great things in us. *The Lord worked
great miracles in Mary and in the Saints! I am thinking, for example, of Francis of Assisi and Catherine of Siena, Patrons of Italy. I am thinking also of splendid young people like St Gemma Galgani, St Gabriel of the Sorrowful Virgin, St Louis Gonzaga, St Dominic Savio, St Maria Goretti, born not far from here, and the Blesseds, Piergiorgio Frassati and Alberto Marvelli. And I am also thinking of numerous young men and women who belong to the ranks of the “anonymous” Saints, but who are not anonymous to God. For him, every
individual person is unique, with his or her own name and face. All, and you know it, are
called to be Saints!" (*emphasis by the webmaster)
For more info see: www.passiochristi.org/Documents/Maggio_2008/2008%20St.%20Gemma%20Galgani.pdf
-In His Decretal Letter "Sanctitudinis Culmen" for the Canonisation of Saint Gemma, Pope Pius XII wrote-
"...Gemma gave admirable witness to the religious spirit and was a model of christian perfection. In fact, she practised all the theological and moral virtues on a heroic scale, and we can say that her whole life was spent in the continual exercise of virtue."
-In an address on Sept 23, 1989 to the contemplative Passionist Nuns gathered at the Monestary-Sanctuary of Saint Gemma in Lucca, Italy, Pope John Paul II stated:
"....In her littleness and hiddenness, St. Gemma Galgani lived this work of reconciliation of man with God through participation in Christ's Passion with special intensity: she did not contribute to it by devoting herself to special external activities, but through the total offering of herself.
To all of you present, dear sisters, and not only to the Passionist nuns, I want to offer her today as an example. May she inspire you from heaven to an ever more intense need to offer yourselves for the salvation of humanity."
"Oh Jesus, I see You greater that all the treasures on earth. Yes, my sweetest God, my most lovable Jesus: to my eyes You are greater than the greatest treasures on earth!" -St Gemma Galgani