St Gemma experiences dark night of the soul

Saint Gemma and the dark night of the soul
Jesus says to Gemma: “There are only a few in Heaven of your age that have participated in all the pains of my Passion”.

The source for this information is from the Italian book "La Povera Gemma" written by Padre Enrico Zoffoli C.P., and published in 1957. The book is a 1014 page hagiography on the life of St Gemma. The webmaster would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Mrs. Rita Dunn for translating these pages into English for this website. May God bless her for her efforts.


“….When the sixth hour came there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice: Eloi, Eloi lama sabachthani?” (Mark 15:34).

Crucified with the dying Saviour, Gemma is enveloped in the same darkness that He felt; she is oppressed by His same mysterious abandonment. She had to experience the darts from the infernal forces as well as the wounds opened by love, in the most difficult phase of His immolation.

When a soul offers herself up for sinners, prayer is not enough. She must be willing to fight for them, and to share in their dangers and suffering, feeling what they feel when they lose God. In a way she must endure their blame, their guilt, their faithlessness, their anger and their desperation. The soul thus feels rejected by God and almost damned. At this moment, an even greater Grace is granted without the souls knowledge, that inspires and sustains her, until in her great suffering she merits the salvation of other souls, even for the most obstinate and indifferent souls.

Thus was the condition of Gemma’s soul at the end of her Calvary. Our words are not sufficient to describe the “night of reparation” endured by the Saint. We prefer at this point to listen to a startling prophetic locution that she confides to us in regards to her coming last trials:

“After the Holy Hour, Jesus let me know all that I will suffer in the course of my life. He told me that He would test my virtue ,to see if I really loved Him, and if the offer that I made to Him was sincere. He told me that I will feel my heart becoming like a stone, I will feel arid, afflicted and tempted. All my senses as hungry beasts will rebel against me. He said: you shall be always inclined to evil; your mind will be tormented by earthly pleasures. Your memory will bring to your mind all you would not want. You shall have before you all that is contrary to God. You will not feel anything that comes from God and I will not allow your heart any comfort. The demons with my permission will do all they can to attack your soul; they will incite you to evil thoughts, you will dislike prayer and you will often endure terrors and fears.
No one will believe you and you will suffer scorn and reproof. No one will give you comfort; not even those you look up to. In fact, all will reproach you and you will feel great confusion. What will cause you more grief will be that the Heavens will be like bronze to you [they will be closed to you , -trans.]. Jesus will appear to you as a severe judge. You will pray, but you will feel as if you did not. You will look for Jesus, but you will not find Him.
You will feel that He is rejecting you. When you will try to recollect yourself, you will feel distracted. When you call upon the Blessed Mother and the Saints, no one will pity you. You will feel that everyone has abandoned you. When you will go to confession in order to receive Jesus, you shall not feel anything, and furthermore you will feel aversion for these things. When you will practice devotions, it will be out of necessity, and you will feel as if it was wasted time. You will believe, but without belief, you will hope, but as if you had no hope. You will love Jesus as if you did not love Him, because during this time you will not feel Him. You will hate living and you shall be afraid of death; you will not even be able to cry...
At the end of the Holy Hour, Jesus told me that he would treat me in the same manner that the Heavenly Father treated Him.”

During the fall of 1902, the dark night of the spirit became for her even darker and more frightening. During her prayers and ecstasies, Gemma often pleaded with Jesus to make her die with Him. This prophecy would become true to the last detail. All the extraordinary signs disappeared one after another. In February of 1901 our Lord stated: “Your suffering shall greatly increase and a new life shall begin for you.”

In March of the same year, she receives a new illumination that must be noted as important in the mystic itinerary of the Saint:
“Until now you have tasted the sweetness around your life, but remember that at the end you shall taste gall. Do you see this Cross? This is the Cross that your Father presents to you: this Cross is a book that you will read every day. Promise Me, my daughter, that you will bear this cross with love, and that it will be dearer to you than all the joys of the world.”

As the stigmata disappeared from her body, her suffering increased-
“I passed the day” -she writes Fr. Germano- “suffering sadness for Jesus as He willed it by obedience. I did not suffer external pain....but my dear dad ( Fr. Germano) I suffered in my heart. My heart needs to enlarge; it has not enough space....I wish... but I am so little, Jesus is so infinite....did you know that when I had pain in my head, hands and feet and all over my body, I thought I was suffering, but now I suffer because I can not suffer?”

Fr. B. Lavaud stated that when Gemma did not bear any more the wounds on her body, she participated even more intensely in the suffering of the Crucifixion. She experienced the pains of the dislocation of the bones, and the dreadful distension of all the members; the consummation of all the organs and the burning thirst of the Savior.

Her patience shined even more than her obedience. The outpouring of blood before [in the stigmata and scourgings –ed] gave her a certain amount of relief, but now all comfort was denied her. She would then tell Jesus:
“I would gladly give you blood from every part of my body, but now I can not, so I give you the blood of my heart”.
And Jesus replied to to her: “There are only a few in Heaven of your age that have participated in all the pains of my Passion." [Gemma was only 24 years old at this time -editor]

Her relatives became readily aware of the new phase in her life. Mr. Matteo Giannini stated that: “…the ecstasies came to a complete cessation during the last 8 or 10 months of her life, and she looked as if she was abandoned by our Lord.”
With great sincerity Mrs. Cecilia confirms that: “She was abandoned by everyone, even by her confessor and she was even less cared for by us [Giannini family –ed]. From some words that she would say when suffering interiorly, I realized that she was participating in all the trials of Our Crucified Lord, especially the abandonment. I heard her many times say that she was renouncing everything. She would tell Jesus to remove from her every comfort, and so it was because of this that she had no more signs and no more ecstasies.

Only on Holy Thursday, two days before she died, was she once again in ecstasy. She felt the suffering of the Crucifixion from 9am till 1:30pm. She knew what was coming because when I told her that I was leaving the house, she replied: “No, remain until I am on the Cross!”
I remained in the room with Sister Teresa Barbantini, while all the others were asked to leave. Gemma went into ecstasy and she raised herself on the bed with her arms open and her hands distended. She remained in this position for two or three minutes. It appeared to me that she was suspended above the bed. After her body returned to resting on the bed, I said to her: “Tell us what you saw! If you do not tell me, I have not a clue.” And she replied:“I am at a point in which I do not understand anything!’.

Eye witnesses tell us that when Monsignor Volpi and Fr. R. Andreucci went to see the Saint, they thought that she was delirious. She kept asking for exorcisms and for her confessor but it appears that he was always too busy. Fr. Germano was away in Rome but was worried that his spiritual daughter was being tested by hell and misunderstood by those who could have helped her in this supreme hour of trial. Good Mrs. Cecilia was also very worried and concerned, however Gemma remained truly all alone. She stated-
“Now all I have left to do is to prepare myself for death because I have renounced all and everyone to God”.
“Even Fr. Germano? - asked Ms [Cecilia] Giannini - “Yes even him!” She replied.
She had asked God to take away from her every comfort. Ms. Giannini resigned herself to this decision made by the saint while she participated in witnessing Gemma’s agony and solitude.

p. 979
This example given by the Saint profoundly touched the young Eufemia [Giannini] who kept well informed about all that was happening. Here she offers a new element to our account:
“…In her last days while she was oppressed and under great spiritual aridity, she prepared herself with readings from the book “Preparation for Death” By S. Alfonso and also other pious books.”
“…The words that the saint uttered in her last ecstasy were very moving” said the loyal Eufemia.

Early in the morning of Nov. 18th 1902, Gemma was in pain and became recollected and went into ecstasy, moaning: “I am always coming in search of You, oh my God. I suffer, but I deserve worse ...but if You like, free me...but do only Your Will! I want to do Your Will, because I recognize You as my God.....My God, I deserve worse, worse...!”
“Do not reject me, oh my Jesus. Do not despise me...You will see..with your help I will be able to do all. I am doing all I can on my part but I need Your omnipotent help!”
“It is true that I am suffering great pains, but then you let me have many days of peace...then the pains restart again...but You…You suffered all Your life at every hour, at every moment and at every instant...and I?..”
“I place all under Your Will [oh Lord] but the last one You must do it at all costs... and soon, very soon. Do You not know that I am under order by my confessor to become a Saint? Very soon?... and if You do not do this?...and if You should find in me sin?...Do I possess Your Grace?...Oh Jesus, listen to me. I am speaking to You, Jesus! Are You not listening to what I am saying to You? Oh why are You not coming to visit me? I do not care about the outside, but I care about the inside, the inside! Come, come! If I could be sure to be in Your grace, Oh Lord!...When will I be able to say: I belong completely to my God?... When will I, oh Jesus?...”
“Why do You abandon me, oh Jesus? I am all alone, alone in this world that I call a dark land...”

All temptations are fired at Gemma, and she is overwhelmed: “Oh my God, help me! Do not permit anything else to that ugly enemy [the devil –ed.]. But, if You will it, then give more strength, because otherwise...”
Talking to the Blessed Mother: “Mom, oh my Mom, make me good! Mom, Mom make me pure! This is the thing that I so desire and that I need so much..”.
Talking to Jesus: “Firstly, I desire You in my heart, oh Jesus!...then I want to love You. Then, I desire to see You and to possess You, forever. Oh infinite can You take such pity on me?...Do You know what gives me life? The thought of receiving You in Holy Communion….I wish to receive You, I wish to see You..No, I want to possess You eternally! I wish, my God, for so many graces... I want Your Love.
You ask me love, and I cannot give it to You, if You don’t give it to me. I desire also a little more perseverance….. I wish for a good death and then.....Paradise. This is everything to me! But ..what do I feel.. can I abandon myself to this sweetness?

"What is it Lord that I feel?..”
Six days later (Nov. 24th 1902) Gemma will confide to Ms. Cecilia Giannini in her last ecstasy: “I have offered all and everyone to God, even Father Germano” (as previously stated above).

To her very dear spiritual Father [Father Germanus] she wrote telling him all the anguish of her soul. However she is in a profound and mysterious peace that comes from her union with her agonizing Spouse. Once, as we see in her letter below, she even reprimanded the Father for his silence during this difficult time in a most tactful and gentle way. Gemma, always meek in all her humility says:
[writing to Father Germanus] “...I will be good; I will read often your letters and I will do all I can to gain profit from them. I will be obedient and I will happily do the will of God...—and with so much grace-- [ she now writes ] ...and you, will you be good to me? Truly? Will you write to me every time Jesus wants it? Will you help me?..”

She truly needed his help as she writes in the letter of Jan 15th 1903 :”Oh my dad [ Fr. Germano] I do not know if you have ever been inside a labyrinth. It is a place where there is great noise: every one laughs, there is who talks, who cries and so on. Entering into such a place, one can not make much sense of what is going on, because of the great chaos. This is inside me, dear dad. There is Jesus, who suggests to me holy thoughts, and there is the devil who does all the contrary. Do you understand what I am saying to you, my dad? Do you understand what I can not? Oh, how I wish that before my death I could go into a place of solitude. How many tears I would shed! How many penances I would perform!... But what is the Will of Jesus? Let’s wait together, you and I.”
“ And Jesus? Is it my fault? Oh my God, have mercy on me!...If I did not have faith...good father...Oh yes! I live by faith. My soul receives special help by means of faith. I vent my aspirations and say fervent short prayers as much as I can...this is how I live day by day. Long live Jesus! May He be blessed forever!...”

Devoured by her physical illness, with the coughs and pain in her lungs, she wrote: “I continue to cough up discharge”. Gemma can only write a few lines each day.
[P. 982 upper left corner of the page there is a picture. The tomb in the cemetery of Lucca where previously she was interred. The little monument is near by the Sanctuary of Galgani in the center town. At present it holds the remains of her brother Guido Galgani.]

In the middle of her spiritual storm March 18, 1903 [Gemma writes]: “Believe me, dear dad [Fr. Germano] my life is a tragedy. How can I be at peace in the middle of such adversity? Pity me and answer me. The enemy is working against me... and I? Goodbye dad. I just want to let you know that I am still living”.

That very same morning of March 18th, the saint turns to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and in a loud voice she cries out to Her in such a different style that reflects the depth of her prostration and the frightening pains of being near death: “My dear Mother, my lot is poor, but I continue in the battles of this life...”
Then assaulted by doubt: “Oh my Mom, pray always to Jesus for me. I desire for Jesus to be happy. I very well could be delusional. Dear Mother, I do not feel well. Day be day my life will soon be extinguished. And my spirit?..”

Only God will measure the depth of the bitterness of that fear. He alone was witness of the pain caused by the unstoppable approach of death, while her conscience was leading her to believe that her life had been a failure.
She moans: "Oh my God I am tormented by bad thoughts and Jesus tells me to go to his Mother... and even with these words from Him I loose heart and I cry”. She continues to accuse herself : "I am so very ungrateful to Jesus and the Most Holy Mary. I am so ungrateful to the world, and with my dad[Father Germanus] and with my Mom. How patient they are with me. Oh my God.... and You, oh Lord; what will You do? Will you finally get rid of me? No, No Jesus do not abandon me! I will be good... Dear Mom, of souls I want many of them... after all I cry, I cry aloud to Jesus, and I promise Him love, oh my Mother love for everyone! Dear Mother, I have to remind Jesus of many promises. He hides, He loves me only a little, very little, after all ‘He’ is far away, no, no, no. The ‘nunc dimittis’- I will pray at my last moments”.

She prayed it with low voice the morning of Holy Thursday, 1903, while holding the crucifix she said : “Oh Jesus, if it is Your will take me now! I can not go on!"
Then adds the inseparable Ms. Cecilia... ‘she turned towards the image of the Madonna, and looking at it she said: “Mom, I recommend my soul to you, tell Jesus to be merciful to me...”.

Some forty eight hours later, “the soul victim” bent her head, as if she had fallen asleep. Those present could hardly believe that she was dead. Gemma flew towards eternity, and no human eye could look into the last moments of her offering.
Click here for more info on the holy death of St Gemma

"I have wounded You; I have wounded You greatly ... You say it is a cruelty to wound any creature; oh, what cruelty must be mine, that I have wounded my God?…a God ... a Creator ... a celestial goodness! ... You have granted me so many graces, so many favors; You saved me in a marvelous way, and yet my heart does not melt! ... How can you, my heart, see the only Son of the Eternal Father on the cross and not die?"
St Gemma Galgani


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this so much! I feel drawn to, but also feel almost jealous of St. Gemma. A saint that continually has all sorts of supernatural experiences seems to be totally out of my realm as an "ordinary" person. It is more beautiful for me to read about this then to read the words of love that poured from her when she beheld the glories of heaven.

Glenn Dallaire said...

Hi Anonymous,

Thanks for your kind comment.

Gemma's period of the dark night of the spirit was indeed very difficult for her. On the one hand, much of the time she felt alone and utterly abandoned by God, but then faith and hope would spring forth once again and bring moments of peace amidst the ongoing desolation. Along with this, the devil was freely attacking her, spewing forth all kinds of wicked and evil suggestions and thoughts, trying to bring her to despair or sin.

Such is the interior martyrdom of many of the mystics and saints! In fact, Gemma once said that she wishes that she was a "normal", ordinary person. The life of a mystic is certainly not easy!

Anyway, I am very glad to hear that you enjoyed this article.

May God bless you and yours,

Connie said...

batught complaintGlenn,
Thank you for this. I am taking a Spiritual Theology course on Divine Mercy, Suffering and Conversion and have been reading about other saints experience of Dark Night of the soul. I found this connection to Saint Gemma. This is very revealing I had never concidered Saint Gemma had this expeience, this has helped me so much. The depth of revealing her experience is painful to read but clearly presenting her trials. More and more I find reason to seek Saint Gemma's intercession.
Thank you and God Bless you and Yours. In the Passion of Christ,

Anonymous said...

Every experience that Gemma galgani experienced, I experienced all of them. This started happening after I broke up with my catholic girlfriend. However, I was never a catholic, I never loved God, nor will I ever. God even changed my month and date of birth to that of Saint Gemma's (12th of March). Pleading is one thing that I will never do, nor do I desire to prove anything to him. If these tests are to prove my love to him, then I want to congratulate the devil, because God lost. No one has needed to go through what I went through, I will never preach the word of God my entire life ever again (surprisingly, my real birthday is the same day as st. John of the cross, June 24). Growing up with 4 siblings, all of them used their direct translated names, only I got the name, Peter.

Unknown said...

Dear Peter , I am sorry to hear your Pain and despair.
When you feel ready , i pray that you come to a point of deep forgiveness and peace in your heart and soul.

May once again, the fire of faith burn in your heart, and in its good time also.
Time, in one sense , heals many things, and sometimes faith has to be lost and broken down , in order to be rebuilt as something most solid and beautiful.
Please keep a tiny ray of faith in your heart if you can,
no matter how small , as you never know, you may look back on these times , and realise deeply, that you (like an iron rod) where put into the fire of adversity, so that the higher power of Love , can forge your heart into something most loving, happy and wonderful.
Great Peace, gentleness and love be with you always.
Chris from the Uk 🙏🙏🙏