Saint Gemma and the crown of thorns

St Gemma and the Crown of Thorns

"....And to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to beat me, to keep me from being too elated." 2 Corinthians 12:7

God called Saint Gemma to be a soul victim, that is, she was especially called to suffer in body and spirit for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for sins. 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.

These mystical graces were varied; sometimes they occurred simultaneously, other times individually. Some of these mystical graces were the stigmata, which she was given on numerous occasions, other times she would receive scourges on various parts of her body, sometimes throughout her body; at times she would sweat blood through her eyes, ears or throughout; she would have large bruises, abrasions and pain on her shoulder, symbolic of the carrying of the cross. Finally, at other times Jesus would place His crown of thorns onto her head.

With the crown of thorns for example, the members of the Giannini family would notice her suffering, then drops of blood would appear around her head, and as time progressed, the blood would continue to flow more profusely and would run down her cheeks, onto her collar and chest and back. “Each hair” stated and eye witness, “had its drop of blood, and they would trickle even to the floor”.

She wears a crown of thorns”

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. It made me suffer a little but when I say suffering I mean taking plea­sure. It is a pleasure, that suffering. 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 I think my head aches a bit; I kept vigil together with my beloved Angel.

Friday, August 31, 1900
In the morning I ran to receive Holy Communion, but I could not say anything; I just stayed in silence; the pain in my head impeded me. My God, how much I lack in this! Jesus held back nothing on my behalf while I in­stead, in order not to suffer, avoid making even the slightest movement if I can. What would you say, my Jesus, about this laziness and ill will?All morning I did nothing but rest. Day came and effortlessly I flew to Jesus; He lifted the thorns and asked if I had suffered much. "Oh, my Jesus," I exclaimed, "the suffering begins now because you go away. Yesterday and today, I took much pleasure because I felt close to You; but from now on, until You return, it will truly be constant suffering for me." I implored him "Come, my Jesus, come more often: I will be good, I will always obey everyone. Make me happy, Jesus."

My guardian Angel said the previous evening that I was allowed to keep the thorns in my head until 5:00pm in the afternoon on Friday; it was true, because around that time I began to collect myself completely; I hid myself in the Franciscan church and there Jesus came to me again to remove them; I was alone the whole time. How he showed me that he loved me! He encour­aged me anew to suffer and he left me in a sea of consolation.

Thursday, June 26, 1900
Then in the evening, after saying my prayers, I set out to do the usual Holy Hour prayer. Jesus stayed with me throughout; I was in bed*, as usual, because otherwise I would not have been able to remain with my beloved Jesus and suffer with him. (*During this period, Gemma’s confessor Monsignor Volpi, had ordered Gemma to go to bed in the evening, and not linger in her room in prayer) I suffered a lot; He proved anew his love toward me by giving me His crown of thorns until the following day; Jesus loves me most on Friday. That evening He took back the crown, saying He was happy with me and as He caressed me He said: "Daughter, if I add other crosses, do not be afflicted.” I promised, and He left me…
Friday, June 27, 1900
Then I went to the nuns, it was 10:00am and I stayed with them until about 5:00pm. Then I returned home, but Jesus already had removed the crown

Thursday July 19, 1900
This evening at last, after six days of absence of Jesus, since it was Thursday, I began my hour of prayer*, thinking of Jesus on the Cross. Then it hap­pened. I found myself with Him suffering and I felt a great desire to suffer and asked Jesus to give me this grace. He granted it; He approached me, took from His head the crown of thorns and placed it upon mine, and then went aside. I looked at Him silently for I was think­ing; Perhaps He did not love me any more, because He had not pressed the crown down hard upon my head as He had done at other times. Jesus understood and pressed it upon my temples. They were painful but happy moments. I then spent an hour with Jesus. I should have liked to continue with Him thus all night, but Jesus loves obedience very much; He Himself always submits to obedience, so when the hour was up He left me. Generally Jesus took the crown off when He was leaving; this time, however, He left it until about four o'clock the following afternoon.(*Gemma made a holy hour every Thursday evening, since her miraculous cure, something she had promised to do. She made this holy hour every Thursday until her death. –editor)

Friday, July 20, 1900

By four o'clock today I was tired of suffering. I presently found myself with Jesus, Who came beside me and was not sad as on the previous night; He caressed me and lifted the crown from my head. I then felt less pain; but when He put it upon His own head I felt no pain at all. My strength returned and I felt even better than before I began to suffer. ______________________________________

In her Autobiography she writes:“I recall very well one time I was given a gold watch and chain. Ambitious as I was, I could hardly wait to put it on and go out (an indication, dear Father that my imagination was working on me). I did in fact go out with it on and when I returned home and started to take it off I saw an angel (whom I recognized immediately as my Guardian Angel) who said to me very seriously; “Remember that the precious jewelry that adorns the spouse of the Crucified King can only be thorns and the cross.”

I did not even tell my confessor about this. In fact, I now tell it for the first time. These words made me fear as did the angel himself. But a little later, while reflecting on them without understanding them at all, I made this resolution: I resolve for the love of Jesus and to please him, never to wear the watch again and not even to speak of things that savor vanity. At the time I also had a ring on my finger. I took it off immediately and from that day to this I have not worn such things.

Thursday, August 23 1900

Alas, evening comes and the usual coldness, the usual repugnance assails me; fatigue would want to win over me, but with a little effort I never want to neglect to do my duty.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…

Friday, August 24, 1900
…Later Jesus returned to take back His crown but he came very early, saying I had already done a lot; and since I did not want to, because I did not keep it the usual number of hours, He answered that I was still little, and this is more than enough.
1902 -Gemma in Ecstasy says-
“..My Jesus, when my lips near Yours to kiss you, let me feel your gall. When my shoulders rest on yours, let me feel Your scourges. When Your flesh communicates with mine, let me feel your Passion. When my head nears Yours, let me feel Your crown if thorns. When my side touches Yours, let me feel the lance."

Lawyer Giuseppe Giannini of Lucca testified: "On Good Friday [1901] I saw a circle of blood around her head and some drops were flowing from the temples. It was exuding from her skin. I did not touch it. My aunt was drying her with some white cloths that became stained with real red blood. The blood then began flowing again and it was a real bloody sweat.
She was in ecstasy... she was suffering very much. The circle of blood was starting from one side of her forehead to the other. I do not know if it was coming from her hair also. It was a few millimeters wide and it was beginning from the upper part of her forehead and drops were flowing [to the lower area of her face]..."

For more information on Gemma and the crown of thorns see:

…What shall I do to be pleas­ing to You? Do You want me, oh Lord, to change your crown of thorns into a crown of lilies?....” –St Gemma Galgani


Mary said...

Thank you for posting this!

Glenn Dallaire said...

Thank you Fran!

Marg Goodwin said...

Thank God, I found your site. I knew nothing of this sweet saint before this. Finally, a saint who I can identify with. It gives me great joy to know that even though she was a sinner, that Jesus admonished, consoled her and forgave her because she was sorrowful for her sins. I will ask her to help me in all things for the Glory of God and the salvation of all souls. I cannot miss the similarity of the Divine Mercy and Sacred Heart devotions. Certainly, Jesus loves us and desires to save us from the sword of justice if we but come to His Mercy.
Your sister in Christ, Marg

Glenn Dallaire said...

Hi Marg,

It is nice to meet you.

You are very right that probaly one of the greatest things in the life of St Gemma is the mercy, forgiveness and kindness that God contunually showed her. It seems that it was God's loving mercy that prompted her to love Him all the more, and to be willing to make any sacrifice or accept any suffering out of love for Him.

Anyway, thank you for your kind comments and may God bless you and yours,
~St Gemma, pray for us!
Glenn Dallaire

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this website! I love learning about the extraordinary lives of Saints. -Molly

Unknown said...

Hi. I can identify with Gemma and sister Faustina also. It is time to draw nearer to Jesus as HE wants to come.