Patron Saint of headaches and migraines


A Patron Saint for headache and migraine sufferers

Given all the migraines and headaches that she suffered, Saint Gemma can certainly be considered a patron Saint for those who suffer with headaches, along with St Teresa of Avila and a few others. Gemma suffered with severe headaches for three reasons- firstly because she was diagnosed with spinal meningitis (or possibly spinal tuberculosis), and she developed large tumors along her spine, which lead her to the brink of death in the Spring of 1899, prior to her miraculous cure. Those who are familiar with spinal diseases know that they can cause severe, debilitating migranes.

Additionally, for various reasons the doctors thought she also had a brain tumor. And thirdly because she was given the mystical grace of receiving the crown of thorns. Because of all of these conditions, St Gemma suffered atrocious headaches. And because her spinal disease was continously progressing for the worse, she initially could still walk and began wearing a iron back brace, but soon she became bedridden and almost completely paralised, able only to move her head and arms a bit. During this time she said to Father Andrew Bartolini: "See I am crucified. I cannot move." Initially her Physician, Doctor Del Prete repeatedly lanced the tumors along her spine, and injected them with glycerine, but as she continually grew worse he consulted with other physicians who together decided to cauterize her spine in 12 places.

Here is how she explained it:

"....but the months passed, and I did not get any better. On January 4th (1899), the doctors tried another remedy. The cauterized me in 12 places on the spine. That was enough. I began to grow worse. Besides the usual pains, on January 28 I began to suffer with an unbearable headache.

The doctor whom they called said that it was very dangerous (he called it a brain tumor). They could not operate because I was suffering with extreme weakness. I grew worse from day to day, and on February 2nd they brought me Holy Viaticum. I made my confession and I was waiting to go and be with Jesus. It seemed that it would be soon. The doctors, thinking that I was no longer conscious, said among themselves that I would not live until midnight. Blessed be Jesus!"


Her severe headaches lasted for months, until her miraculous cure on March 3, 1899. Immediately after her cure she said: "When I was alone in the room afterwards I was able to raise myself to a sitting position, though I could not yet stand up. But, I felt very well because I no longer had any more pain in my head."

But this was not the end of her head pain and migraines--now she was to suffer tortuous headaches stemming from a mystical grace- the Crown of Thorns. The severe migraines stemming from her spinal meningitis and brain tumour were only a precursor of the violent headaches and head pain that she was soon to suffer.

The Crown of Thorns -Sufferings of a victim soul

After her miraculous cure God called Saint Gemma to be a "victim soul", that is, she was especially called to suffer in body and spirit for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for sins. In other words, she was called to help Jesus for the salvation of souls. To accomplish this mission, God would give her a share in the innumerable sufferings of Christ, beginning particularly on Thursday evenings until Friday afternoon. It was the Passion renewed, in a lesser degree, in the body and spirit of the young virgin Gemma. In this mission of suffering in union with Jesus for the redemption of sinners she was given the Stigmata, along with the Crown of Thorns. It is this latter, and the atrocious head pain that it caused, which we will now focus on for this article.

Concerning the Crown of Thorns and the accompanying head pain Gemma writes:
Thursday, August 30, 1900
"A little strength, a little courage comes to me when I feel Jesus at the hour when he places the crown of thorns on me and makes me suffer until Friday evening, because this I offer for sinful souls, especially my own. This is how things went yesterday evening, Thursday; I thought Jesus would do like usual that evening: He placed the crown of thorns on my head, the cause of so much pain for my beloved Jesus, and left it there for several hours....How He was afflicted! And the cause: for the many sins committed, and the many ungrateful souls whom He assists, only to receive in return exactly the opposite. Of this ingratitude how much I feel guilty myself! For sure, Jesus must have spoken of me. As usual, that night I cannot sleep because I am united with Jesus, united more closely than usual, and also because my head aches a bit; I kept vigil together with my beloved Angel."

Elsewhere in her diary she writes:
Friday, July 27, 1900
"This Friday I suffered even more, because I had to do some chores and at every moment I thought I would die. Indeed, my aunt had commanded me to fetch water: I felt so exhausted I thought the thorns went into my brain...and a drop of blood began to appear at my temple. I hurriedly cleaned up so she barely noticed it..."

and again:
Thursday, August 2, 1900
"I be­gan my prayers and immediately collected myself. For a while I had been feeling ill. I stayed all alone; when I was suffering Jesus wasn't there and I suffered only in my head. My confessor asked me this morning if I had had the signs, [Stigmata -editor] and I said no. They hurt a lot but not compared to my head."

and again:
Thursday, August 23
"Tonight Jesus placed his crown on my head at about 10:00, after I had been collected for a little while. My suffering, which in no way equals Je­sus', was very strong: even all my teeth hurt; any movement brought a sharp pain; I thought I could not resist but instead I did, everything went well.I offered those little penances for sinners and in particular for my poor soul. I begged Him to return soon…"

Writing to her spiritual director, Father Germanus Gemma says:
"On Saturday evening, 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."

And in a letter to her Confessor, Monsignor Giovanni Volpi, Gemma writes:
"Saturday I went to make a visit to Jesus Crucified. There came to me a strong desire to suffer and with all my heart, I asked it of Jesus. And Jesus that evening made me have a very violent pain in the head, and blood almost came; but I was almost overcome and afraid that I would not be able to endure it. Tonight I suffered all night; I asked Jesus if I might have a little peace; and He gave it to me. I do not know whether Signora Cecelia saw me at this time; since yesterday evening I have been with her at her home, as you know.

If you think it wise, should I ask Jesus to alleviate a little the pain in my head?

Tonight I told Jesus that I really could not bear it any more, and He replied to me: "My daughter neither am I able to endure any longer the evil that is done Me; this is indeed a time of wickedness [it was carnival time] which I am no longer able to tolerate. You with your suffering bear the punishment which My Father has pre­pared for so many poor sinners. Will you not do it will­ingly?" I said yes, but I was afraid of not being able to stand it. He said: "Do not be afraid, I will make you suffer, but I will give you the strength to endure it." Now I am satisfied and even stronger.
I ask for your blessing and pray to Jesus for poor Gemma"


And concerning these pains in the head, what does Ms. Cecilia Giannini, the primary eyewitness to these matters have to say?:

Cecilia Giannini writing to Father Germanus in June, 1900:
“Today is Thursday and this evening she prepared her­self for suffering as one prepares for a feast. I am alone here. If only it were possible for you to be here, there are so many things that you could understand and that you could explain to me who understand so little .... Jesus on Thursday evening gives her His crown of thorns and presses it a little and then there flow little fountains of blood, so that it pours over her face and pillow; and sue suffers thus for an hour. Then Jesus blesses her and the members of the Sacred College and leaves her; how­ever He does not take away the crown. He leaves it until Friday. During the day no blood is seen, except a little when He takes the crown away, which is around three or four o'clock on Friday. During all this time she suffers great pain in the head, but no one knows it but myself. Enough of this: I am afraid I have said too much, but you will form your own judgment.”

And so, given all the headaches and pains that she suffered, we can see that those who suffer with headaches and migraines have a compassionate and understanding heavenly friend in Saint Gemma, for she certainly can sympathise with those who have such sufferings. And those who suffer such pain should recall Jesus words to Gemma:
"Do not be afraid, I will make you suffer, but I will give you the strength to endure it."
Or, in the words of the spiritual classic "The Imitation of Christ":
"Nothing is small that comes from the hand of God. If He sends us affliction or suffering, we should accept it with gratitude; for whatever He permits to happen to us is always for our salvation." -"The Imitation of Christ", Book 2, Chapter 10

So whether our suffering comes from the Permissive will of God, such as in Gemma's meningitis and brain tumor (that is indirectly, just as in most of our illnesses), or the Ordained will of God, that is directly, such as in Gemma's Crown of Thorns, God always gives us the strength to endure it, and even more so when we ask Him in loving prayer.
~St Gemma Galgani, pray for us!
_______________________________

"Jesus is an irresitable and adorable lover. The mercy of Jesus enchants me. How could one not love Jesus will all one's heart and soul?" -St Gemma Galgani

22 comments:

Lee said...

Every evening before i go to sleep, I get a headache. ..Please pray for me St. Gemma Galgani. May I have the strength to suffer with my afflictions with the grace of Jesus Christ.

Anonymous said...

i suffer from severe migraine disorders and intense neuralgia pain. It gives me great hope to know I can pray to St.Gemma for help and endurance.

Tiffany Lape said...

Every day and night for over teen years I have suffered debilitating headaches.the pain clinic is truing, but to no avail.how is it that I should be thank full to God for this..for my salvation? I have lost numerous jobs as Ann RN. Almost has my five year old taken away from me breccias his catholic pre school called the sheriffs who called cps. My lil boy its mad and I think restful of me being sick.is it wrong of me to pray to God to take these away? What can I pray to this saint

Glenn Dallaire said...

Hi Tiffany,
It is nice to meet you. Thanks for your message.

I am sorry to hear of your chronic headaches and also the problems with your son--this is a very difficult cross to carry. However I am glad to hear that Jesus has led you to St Gemma and that you are inspired by her holy life and her great love for Jesus and Mary. As you have read, Gemma had a most extraordinary love for Jesus; her heart was all on fire with the love of Jesus and she expressed her love for Him so well in her writings. For as you have discovered Gemma is a very "lovable" Saint, and those who begin reading her life and writings (diary, autobiography, letters etc) soon become enraptured and are greatly inspired by this "Gem of Jesus", and many have found her to be a very powerful and devoted friend and heavenly advocate--especially those who like you suffer from migranes/headaches, for Gemma too suffered from these greatly during her long illness, so she can certainly sympathise with what you are experiencing.

And yes, you can certainly pray that Jesus may take your headaches away if it would be His holy will to do so. But most of all ask for the grace to accept His will, whatever it may be. I pray that St Gemma may intercede for you and help with your chronic headaches, and may she lead you ever closer to Jesus.

May God bless you and your loved ones,
Glenn Dallaire

Anonymous said...

I am also an RN who is suffering with migraines....started about 2 years ago. But non stop for 6 months and really bad for about a week its been this bad before but never lasted more than 3 days at this level. I've missed work and have 2 very young girls its hard to care for not to mention my husband just fractured his foot and we are already struggling.:'( KW

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous,
I pray that Jesus may heal you through the intercession of St Gemma. In Jesus holy Name, AMEN +
And, may God bless you and your loved ones.
-Glenn Dallaire

Anonymous said...

hello, this is my first time entering this website. my brother has horrible cluster headaches and suffers every morning from them and even sometimes at school and has to leave. please pray for him!

Anonymous said...

hello, where is the novena for headaches?

Glenn Dallaire said...


Hi Anonymous,
I am sorry to hear of your brothers cluster headaches. I pray that St Gemma may intercede before Jesus and obtain healing for him. I ask this in Jesus holy Name, AMEN +

There is no specific prayer to St Gemmma for headaches in particular, but many of the prayers in the Prayers section of this website have a "mention your specific request-intention" as part of the prayer(s).

You can find the Prayers section of this website on the right hand side column towards the bottom.

Best wishes and may God bless you and your loved ones,
Glenn Dallaire

Lisa said...

https://www.facebook.com/groups/cmaware/
This is a support group for people with chronic headaches. It has been very helpful to me.

Ron said...

God is the true healer and he is still healing people in this present day.

Mike C said...

Pray for me please I suffer from migraines its to much to bear please help me Lord

Anonymous said...

Please pray for my daughter who has New Daily Persistent headache for the last 4-5 months, I ask you to pray that Jesus will heal her through the intercession of St.Gemma, our Blessed Mother Mary and Infant Jesus of Prague and St. Jude. God is the great healers and everything is possible with God!!! God Bless All who are ill and in need of healing...Amen

Antonio and Ibis said...

I pray that Jesus heals all of you that suffer with headaches. I beseech St. Gemma to intercede on your behalf to God the Almighty for his mercy and love. i also ask that you pray for my wife, that her daily headaches are not what God intended for her in this lifetime. And that with His love and mercy she too will feel the Miracle of Healing that only Jesus can provide.

Anonymous said...

My family is afflicted with migraines including myself...I ask for prayers for my daughters. Especially my 10 year old who just got outmof the hopsital today with severe nausea /vomitting and pain from her migraines. I hate to see her suffer, please pray for her relief...

Glenn Dallaire said...

I pray that St Gemma may intercede before Jesus for both you and your daughters migrane problem--in His infinite love and mercy may Jesus grant healing for all of you. In Jesus holy Name, AMEN +

And may God bless you and your loved ones,
Glenn Dallaire

Anonymous said...

Hey there, I am a college student and my headache routine is every time come home, it start with like pinching in brain and suddenly it goes like crazy, I been doing every ting I can but it's not working. Please pray for me I am in so much pain as I am going through college.

LB said...

St Gemma pray for me I've been suffering for 2 years with left sided headaches that range from the ear, temple to the front of my head.
I have been on many medications, had to quit my job and I have a 3 year old. I've seem many doctors and spent thousands of dollars and nothing seems to help. I do not know where to turn but to you. Please help heal my pain.

Gemma said...

St Gemma is my patron saint and we share a first name as well as sharing headaches!
I've lately been getting ringing in my ears and daily headaches so I'm going to pray to St Gemma and St Teresa of Avila for help.
Even if this doesn't resolve, I pray I can endure the suffering and offer it up to Jesus.
My prayers are with you all who suffer.
Thank you Glenn for this website and spreading devotion to this wonderful Saint.

Anonymous said...

May I ask prayers in intercession to St Gemma for our son's wife, Melissa please. She suffers from migraine headaches and does so very graciously. We would not know it but our son tells us. They have an 18 month old child and Melissa works, but it is difficult, of course with these headaches.
Thank you all so much!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for hacing this website and spreading hope and God's love. I have had one very long headache with no relief for ovr 15 yrs (ranging from a 6 - 12 on a 1-10 scale) 24/7. I have often thought and prayed that I must endure knowing that so many people are worse off and knowing what Jesus did for us - but I can no longer take it. I pray for relief now. I'm unable to concentrate on anything but this - everthing in my life is suffering due to this constant headache. I pray for St Gemma's intercession for relief from this afflication. thank you and God Bless

Anonymous said...

Please st gemma pray for me im suffering with headaches all the time in the back of my head I need your help.

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