Taken from the rare first edition of Venerable Father Germanus’ book “Life of Gemma Galgani” published in 1913 (just 10 years after Gemma’s holy death) wherein contains at the end of the book an "Appendix of Dissertations" written by Father Germanus Ruoppolo C.P. (Gemma’s spiritual director) that was not in many subsequent editions. In it Father Germanus gives his eyewitness testimony concerning Gemmas ecstasies, stigmata and other parts of her mystical life, some of which is published below—Glenn Dallaire, webmaster
"Gemma’s raptures, ecstasies, and visions were always so calm, so spontaneous, so modest and so edifying, and were consistent in all their [exterior] particulars. On the first intimation from within of what was coming, she immediately withdrew and hastened to hide herself in her own room from the gaze of others. There, kneeling down without any support, she betook herself to prayer, and within a few moments became insensible to all of her surroundings and impressions without changing position, so that in order to ascertain that she was in ecstasy it was necessary to draw near and move her. Her members were insensible to every touch or stimulus; but they were not stiff nor trembling, and could be moved in every way just as those of one who is asleep. At the same she she remained kneeling upright, not leaning to one side or the other, and needing no support from others. And as she entered into that state so she came also came out of it in the same way, without any effort or weariness, without yawning or stretching her arms, without any oppression or dizziness, even without the feeling one experiences on being aroused from sleep. An angelic smile was all that characterized her passage from ecstasy to her normal state, and she returned immediately to her ordinary domestic occupations.
"Sometimes she was suddenly rapt in God while she sat at meals with the others, or while engaged in conversation, or at her table writing letters, and on returning to herself she lowered her eyes without showing the least confusion, and with perfect naturalness she would resume eating, writing or talking…. As the dear child was when she went into ecstasy, so she came out of it; as the first time when she was eighteen years of age, so, in like manner, the last when she was twenty-five. Fair and ruddy in face, slight in figure, self-possessed, joyous and vivacious, never sad or melancholy, always serene and perfectly even-tempered and clear of mind; such were her constant qualities. And although her thoughts and affections were always fixed on God, she was able nevertheless to attend with the greatest punctuality to everything that was given her in charge. At any time in the day, if someone came to speak to her, even while rapt in exalted prayer, she immediately raised her eyes to see who it was, and her first reply was always an angelic smile. She came out of ecstasy quite spontaneously, like one who, having finished reading some book, or reciting some prayer, goes with the same readiness as before to take up her accustomed occupations; so true is this that those who had not seen her previously could not tell that she had just come out of an ecstasy.
"And during the time of her ecstasies, there was no sign of suffocation [or significant change in breathing], no convulsions, flushing or rush of blood. The only extraordinary thing was the intense palpitations of her heart, which was so strong that, if that beating against her ribs was not miraculous in its origin, it would have taken away her life. But what do we see? The ecstasy is no sooner ended than her heart is once again calm, the ribs which were bent outwards to make room [for her enlarged heart], as I shall have to explain later, returns immediately to their natural position without leaving her any remnant of pain or weariness.
Gemma’s enlarged, inflamed heart and outward pressed ribs
"Meanwhile, the Ecstatic remained, seated on her chair, lying on her bed, standing, or kneeling, without giving any sign of inconvenience or other indication of the presence of these violent movements. Her bed and seat shook under her. I, myself, witnessed this while she remained immovable and in an absolutely normal state. And what is still more wonderful, she did not give the least indication of distress or oppression, not even by the quickening of her pulse. She continued to speak with God, as was usual in her ecstasy, and that without any difficulty or sign of fatigue, but with a firm and' strong voice, and her words were all words of fire. Nor could it be otherwise, for that heart not only beat, but was on fire like a burning coal, so that it was impossible Ito put one's hand on that part without feeling it burn. Sometimes, also, that heat was so excessive that it caused a large external wound over the region of the heart, as if it had been the effect of a red-hot iron plate applied to the skin. This wound healed when the ecstasy ceased, but the mark of it remained for weeks. And after all, this agony of her heart on fire that would have forced the most robust and brave into writhings of torture, was not able to draw from Gemma the least exclamation, or make her wince in the least. She told me that, while that fire martyrised her senses, it made the sweetness of Paradise descend into her soul; and, wishing that others as well should taste it, she made anxious signs with her hands to those round her to draw near to the fire that caused it.
"I have said that her heart beat strongly in order to make room, and it was so in reality. "Jesus is too great," she said in ecstasy, "and my heart is too small to contain Him. Then let this heart be dilated, let it grow large that Jesus may dwell there at His ease."
"And that heart in fact was dilated, and so struck at her ribs on that side that it raised and bent three of them in a most wonderful manner. This marvel remained and could be seen in the blessed child for a considerable time. [As her spiritual director] I would not consent to doctors being called to examine it, as any ordinary person could verify the abnormal state of such a well-known part of the body, and distinguish between a bone displaced and enormously curved, from any other excrescence in that part. The persistence, however, of this wonder only happened once. On the other occasions, the raising of the ribs ceased at once with the ecstasy. The same may be said of the excessive beating of the heart, which stopped immediately and returned to its natural state. And, if, as very frequently happened, after a short interval the ecstasy returned, then at once the heart began again to beat and the ribs to rise. This was so manifest that, by keeping one's hand over the heart, one could tell at once, without looking at her face, that the holy child had returned into ecstasy.
"This stigmatized Servant of God was always burning with the fire of Divine Love, and this Love went on increasing in proportion to the lights she received from God in her sublime contemplation's; and at the end of her life this came to such a point as to cause her heart to burst. Yet, in spite of all that, the stigmata not only did NOT increase in frequency and intensity, but they ceased altogether, [contrary to conventional human wisdom and expectations].
The Crown of Thorns
The Sweating of Blood
Then as regards the inflammation just mentioned, no sign of it was ever seen in Gemma's eyes, either before, after, or during the phenomenon. The blood ran from those innocent eyes, not in drops but, as I have said, in streams, saturating her garments, while some yet remained coagulated in the hollows round the eyes and had to be removed in morsels. Notwithstanding all this, the eyeballs and the adjacent membranes remained unhurt, and it sufficed to wipe the parts with a damp cloth to see them appear in their most perfect natural state."
In the end, what was the purpose and reason for all this suffering given to Gemma? It was for the salvation of souls. For it was while in ecstasy that Jesus Himself told her:
“My child, I have need of victims; strong victims, in order to appease the just anger of my Divine Father. I need souls who, by their sufferings, trials and sacrifices, make amends for sinners and for their ingratitude...."
And for her part Gemma lovingly accepted the will of God for her to suffer as a victim soul for the conversion of sinners, an she often renewed her wish to Jesus in words and in writing, for example she once stated: “...Therefore Jesus do not abandon poor sinners. I am ready to do something. You died on the Cross , make me die also on the cross. They [sinners] are all your children... do not abandon them. Jesus, I want to save them all... am I not the one that must suffer for them? Therefore cast Your anger at me. You have so many sinners, but You have so few victims."
-St Gemma Galgani, pray for us!
"She bore in her flesh the wounds of Christ" -Pope Pius XI
"Among these Divine favors [that Gemma received] was the very special one of manifesting in her virginal flesh the living image of Christ and mysteriously sharing in the various sufferings of His passion." -Pope Pius XII [From Pope Pius XII Decretal Letter "Sanctitudinis Culmen" ("The high point of sanctity") given for Gemma's canonisation]