St Gemma Galgani –Lover of the Cross
Source for this information is from a rare book entitled “A Lover of the Cross –St Gemma Galgani” published in May 1940 by the Passionist Nuns of the Monastero-Santuario di Santa Gemma in Lucca, Italy and also “The Life of St Gemma Galgani” by her spiritual director, Venerable Father Germano Ruoppolo CP
The Miracle of the Crucifix
"In September 1901, while working in the kitchen, Gemma frequently paused out of her great love for Jesus to contemplate the large Crucifix that hung on the kitchen wall of the Giannini home. “The more she looked at it” - says Venerable Father Germano in his biography of St Gemma – “the more her heart beat in her breast". She strongly desired to come to Him and unite with Him, and many a time she attempted to. At last she cried: - ’Let me come to You, for I am thirsting for You!’. - Marvellous to say, as it already happened to St. Francis of Assisi and our holy Father, St. Paul of the Cross, the Corpus on the Cross became alive, and Jesus appeared to her and with His right hand detached from the Cross, with a loving look He beckoned his faithful Bride to come to Him. Immediately, Gemma rushed to Him and reached Him, and while miraculously held aloft in the air, Jesus embraces her and lays her lips on the wound in His Holy Side; Gemma, keeping tight to Him with both arms, drank plentifully out of that divine spring, while remaining with her body as if she rested upon a cloud”.
(Note: The Photograph above is the actual Crucifix that came alive during the miraculous vision related above. It is currently on display along with other articles pertaining to the life of St Gemma at the "Casa Della Stimmate" or "House of the Stigmata" in Lucca, Italy. -Editor).
"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the fountain of the water of life without payment." (Revelation 21:6)
On another occasion Jesus appeared to Gemma with the Cross on His shoulders and said: "Gemma, will you take my Cross? See, this is the present I have prepared for you."
And she replied, "My Jesus, yes, give it me, but give me also the strength to carry it, because my shoulders are weak; at least that I may not fall under it."
And Jesus again: "Would it sadden you if I were to give you to drink of My chalice, even to the last drop?"
And Gemma replied: "Jesus, may Your most Holy Will be done."
(Photograph on the left is a closeup of the actual Crucifix that came alive during the miraculous vision related at the top of this article) .
Her devotion to the Passion and Jesus Crucified
On another occasion, He appeared to Gemma nailed to the Cross, all covered with wounds and bleeding. "At that sight," she said to me [Father Germanus], "I felt such a great sorrow, thinking of the infinite love of Jesus for us, and of the sufferings that He had endured for our salvation, I then fainted and fell. After the lapse of an hour or so I came to myself, and then there arose in my heart such an immense desire to suffer something for Him who had suffered so much for me."
From that day forward Gemma did not seem herself. The sight of Jesus suffering and the thought of the mission entrusted to her by God had, as it were, transformed her into another creature. The thirst to suffer torments of every kind seemed to consume and rend her whole being. To satisfy her, torrents of fire would be needed. Listen to her exclamation: "To suffer, but without any consolation, without any comfort; to suffer for love alone." Her sufferings were but trials in which grace advanced step by step, preparing her for the grand immolation that was to be accomplished on the Calvary of Jesus-her deathbed. Hence she added: "I am very happy. Jesus does not cease to love me; I mean that He does not cease to afflict me more than usual." It was indeed Our Lord Himself who had taught her this sublime doctrine.
"On Saturday evening," she writes to me, "I went to make a visit to the most holy crucifix. There came upon me an ardent longing for suffering, and with all my heart I implored of Jesus to satisfy me. And, since that evening, He has granted me a ceaseless pain in my head, but such a violent pain! And I am almost always crying through fear of not being able to bear it." We can see by these words that she feels that she may not be able to hold out, and yet she does not desist, but continues to pray that her great longing to suffer more and more may be gratified. Nay, she declares that in suffering she finds all her delight. "Yes," she says, "I am happy in every way that Jesus wills, and if Jesus wants the sacrifice of my life, I give it to Him at once. If He wants anything else I am ready. One thing alone is enough for me, to be His victim, in order to atone for my own innumerable sins, and, if possible, for those of the whole world."
From Thursday evening to Friday afternoon each week, as we know, this heroic child went over all Calvary in body and soul, suffering unspeakable agony in company with Jesus Crucified. Whoever could have passed but once through such torments would shudder at the thought of them. Gemma, who again and again passed over that way of sorrow and pain, longed for the day, counted the hours she had to wait until it came, and, in the words of those who were around her, "prepared to suffer as if she were preparing for a banquet."
(Picture on the left is a image of Gemma embracing Jesus as occured in several of her visions) Our Lord took infinite delight in such great generosity and heroism, and by open proofs of tenderness, showed His great joy and happiness at having chosen a spouse so entirely according to His Heart. Thus, on one of many occasions, making His presence felt in her soul, He asked her if she had suffered much in a long trial that she was still undergoing. Gemma's answer: "With Thee, oh Jesus, one suffers so well! What is it to suffer thus for many days, if afterwards You come quickly and console?" And Jesus replied: "Know that when you were suffering, I was always at your side. I beheld your distress and I was gratified by it."
Then to reward her for the courage she had displayed in the conflict, He told her she might draw close and kiss His sacred Wounds. And she, all humility:
"But, oh Jesus, why for so little, do you give me a reward so great?" Then emboldened by her filial confidence she approached her Saviour, and kneeling with her heart all on fire, she kissed one by one those precious Wounds. But when she came to the Wound in His Side she could hold out no longer, and fell in a swoon at the Feet of her Jesus."
"Jesus stood up and proclaimed, "If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, 'Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water'."
Thanks be to Thee, oh God, forever! Thanks be to Jesus for His gifts and for His Cross! -St Gemma Gslgani