Loving God with all your heart -Words of St Gemma

Insights into Saint Gemma's extraordinary life and love for God

In an exchange of letters we discover Gemma's heart all on fire with the love of God. In a letter to her spiritual director, Venerable Father Germano Ruoppolo CP, Gemma writes:

Father Germano, August 9, 1900
I have chosen just this hour as being quiet and free.
First of all, I ask your charity in regard to this letter; do not take any account of it, destroy it with all the others; in it are such insistences, such disobediences! But now I am already repentant, I shall not waste any more time excusing myself. I have received from my Confessor every permission in regard to you; I can, rather I must, mani­fest to you every slightest thing. Even interior things, but I don't understand what they are.

Perhaps they are these: how I feel toward my dear Jesus. My spirit is will­ing but my flesh is weak, weak because I am so lazy. What would I not do for Jesus! For anyone who had just one of His glances, it would suffice; what force, what vigor he would feel! I feel that I would do anything for Him to see Him content; the greatest torment would seem to me easy to bear supported by Him, every drop of my blood I would give willingly, and all to satisfy Him, to prevent poor sinners from offending Him. My God, what do I say? I should wish my voice to reach to the uttermost ends of the earth, I should wish to have all sinners under­stand me, I should want to cry out to them: 'Rather than insult Jesus, prefer to be insulted yourselves.'

If you knew, Father, how Jesus is afflicted in certain moments at certain times! Oh, it is not possible to bear the sight of Him longing and, yet, how few are those who suffer with Him? Very few, and Jesus finds Himself almost alone. It is so sad to see Jesus in the midst of sorrows! But how can one see Him in that state and not aid Him?

At certain times a frenzy seizes me, a desire to suffer all the torments of the world which I can seek out for my­self.
About eight days ago, just after I had received Holy Communion, there came to me three resolves; I made them at once to Jesus:

1. If ever, 0 my God, you wish my life as a punishment for my innumerable sins, I offer it to You. I am ready to die at once if it is pleasing to You. I offer you, 0 my God, my life, united to the life of Jesus; my sufferings, united to those of Jesus. I ask only for a perfect sorrow for my sins, and then to go!
2. You have shown me many times, Jesus, that it is Your will that I go into the convent; whenever You wish it, I am ready. I desire it so much -yes, to suffer, to leave You, to do penance for my great sins.
3. Oh Jesus, but if you wish instead that I should remain; may You be blessed. Should You wish that I live here in this world, abandoned, alone, and despised, I am ready. May Your Holy Will be done in all things.

These three resolutions I renew every morning and Jesus is much pleased with them. Indeed, if I forget them He reminds me of them.
I ought to tell you something of my usual "daydreams". Or rather the Confessor has recommended that I tell you about it. Some days ago, one morning, Jesus told me that every time any apparition comes, I was to say these words: "Blessed be Jesus and Mary!" I have used them many times, and many times the demon does not reply, and then I know that it is he and he goes away. If Brother Gabriel comes of himself he says the words before I do; and Jesus does not fail to repeat them after me.
How much time I am left without Brother Gabriel [St Gabriel Possenti CP, whom Gemma had a special devotion to, and who was at that time declared Venerable by the Church -editor]

So many times Jesus promises him to me, but I do not do my duty well and He punishes me . . . I am so weak in virtue and in vices so strong! But Jesus aids me, I wish to become a saint; the Confessor wishes it, every time he sees me he tells me so.
Last evening, with the permission of the Confessor he came. (Confrater Gabriel). You should have seen how he talked and with what force his eyes sparkled, they seemed like two lights . . . He spoke to me of the new convent. A year has gone by and a beginning ought to be made, he said.

Now I must speak of something that is very distasteful to me. Or rather do not believe what I say at all because it is all the work of my imagination. Father, listen; that soul about whom you are worrying, if you knew that soul! Jesus does not wish you to think any more about her. How these words displeased me when Jesus spoke them to me! But besides, I have learned from Brother Gabriel that this soul is full of ill will. Father, I com­mend myself to you; do not believe anything I say about this soul for I must certainly be deceived! Abandoned by you, (for Jesus certainly wishes it) what will happen to her? Before really abandoning her, with all your skill, make another attempt. It could be possible to save her. Be tranquil, Father Germano, everything will go well. Let us confide in God. Be of good heart, and follow this method. I should like to tell you of interior things as my Confessor has suggested but I do not know what they are. The Confessor would be pleased if you would ask me some questions, and then it would perhaps be more easy for me to understand. Do as you wish. If you wish to answer soon, the Confessor will be so pleased. And then if you came to Lucca, I should like it.

Bless me every evening, before going to bed, and bless me now, together with all the members of the Sacred College,
poor Gemma.

In one of the previous letters we get clear evidence that God is starting Gemma on her apostolate for souls. She is unconscious of her power or her agency. She wonders at the words she uses to Father Germano, and even tells him not to pay any attention to them. Father Germano, however, knows well that she is the mouthpiece of God and takes her words coming di­rectly from Him. He does not long delay in coming to see her to verify what has been told him of this ex­traordinary child, and the following communication from him is to Cecelia telling of his coming.

Corneto , September 2, 1900
Cecelia Giannini,
The Lord has heard the prayer of the innocent one.
Next Tuesday evening I shall come on the nine o'clock train to Lucca. Please send your man to show me the way to your house, which at night might not be easy to find. If I should miss the connection at Livorno and Pisa, I shall come on the following train. Only Gemma is to know about it for now.
G. P.

After meeting Gemma for the first time, Father Germano soon came to a vivid realization that God was about to manifest His will in a signal manner, and he makes Gemma's Confessor, Monsignor Volpi aware of his lights.
(Letter from Ven. Father Germanus to Gemma's confessor, Monsignor Giovani Volpi)
Corneto, Tarquinia, November 1, 1900
Most Reverend Excellency,

Knowing how busy you are in your important ministry, I have not dared to trouble you with my letters. In regard to Gemma, Your Excellency may be assured that the finger of God is here. There is in this dear girl the simple ingenuousness of a child, there is implacable hate of the enemy. God is indubitably there in a degree quite exceptional. He will soon take such possession of her soul that there will no longer be any need to fear, as there will be no more doubt concerning her. There can be some small detail which is not divine, and that is suffi­cient to reassure us; and one can very well ignore the minor details. Your Excellency has known and under­stood better than I the present state of this child, since you have had her in your hands so long.

It seems an impertinence for me to speak. I dare only I say that as things stand at present, it seems to me that would be better to proceed with greater ease and tranquility, avoiding in your direction all that could cause oppressiveness and embarrassment to the spirit of the girl.
Soon Your Excellency will see marvelous and unusual things in the creature; the root will be martyrdom of body and of spirit ... She is a victim of sacrifice, whom the Lord has chosen with infinite pleasure. However, it will be well to concentrate your direction from this point view. Do not give attention to the details; there will be much more serious and important matters to consider .... Monsignor, pardon my temerity. Now it is for Your Excellency to correct, rectify and plan.

But what is to be done, Your Excellency will say, to arrange for the future of the soul? I confess that I would not know how to reply to such a query. I am certain that will not be for long. God has high purposes, and I be­lieve that He has already provided; in what manner I do not know nor have I taken any steps in this regard; but I feel in my heart that He will soon dispose of Gemma for His own designs. To Your Excellency will remain the consolation and the merit of having brought to Jesus, and for Jesus, a soul in which he has placed all His pleasure.

Bless me, Monsignor.
The least of your servants,
Germano, Passionist

It would seem that the devil also had a premonition of Gemma's glory to come, for, of one subtle tempta­tion that came to her in a dream, she writes to Father Germano:

My Father,
Why do you not come to my aid when you see that I am in danger? Saturday evening I was sleeping peace­fully, and in a dream I saw a bishop with about fifty little children, all little angels, they seemed to me, with lighted candles in their hands; and all came and stood around my bed and adored me. Frightened I cried: "How many people! Send them away." Signora Cecelia suggested my making the Sign of the Cross, but nothing availed. I felt disturbed, I began to weep, then I cried out: "Father, help me!" Your Angel came, blew strongly upon the candles and everything disappeared. I do not want to offend Jesus. It was a temptation of pride, was it not?

For final purification before the celestial Nup­tials, Jesus filled her understanding with such ob­scurity that it overwhelmed her spirit with utter desolation.

November 2, 1900
My Father,
I wish to recount to you a little of the state of my soul because it is so obscure that I really see nothing more. 0 what are all those past things? All those things that I saw, that I felt, which I can scarcely recall, yet it appears to me that it has been a long dream of two years. My Jesus is at last tired of putting up with my great coldness. Poor Jesus, He is right! What pain, my father! However, I am very well; I can do no less than thank and adore Jesus. But it indeed is true that Jesus withdraws Himself more always. Instead of becoming better, and not committing any more sin, thinking of the way Jesus has punished me, I become worse, improving in nothing.

I go to Holy Communion but it is as if I did not; I pray without fervor; however, I do want to love Jesus but I have so trivial a heart . . .

Now I shall tell you a serious thing: I am no longer capable of thinking of Jesus; that is, I think of Him al­ways, but I do not know in what way. Do you under­stand? I am content within my soul, but many times the tears fall without my knowing why. No one is dear to me now but Jesus. Yet if I call to Jesus, if I search for Him, there is no response. Before He called me; now I call Him. But besides not responding, He sends me away. I begin the assault again, but He withdraws all the more; He does this continually. "

Her sufferings meanwhile were so great that Cecilia became fearful lest she die under them. Confirming how much she suffered at this time we know from what Signora Cecelia wrote to Father Germano:

"...Thursday she began to feel ill for a time; about nine she went to bed because she could not endure any more. The Angel Guardian came to help her because she was helpless of herself. After half an hour Annetta and I went to see her. She was rather pale. I asked her if she felt ill and she answered: "A little, but it is nothing." Meanwhile, ten o'clock approached and all at once I saw blood streaming down from her forehead and all around her head, and much from the eyes. I dried one part with a handkerchief and the other dripped on the pillow. Signor Lorenzo and Annetta likewise observed it. Dur­ing the night she did nothing but call on Jesus and Mary, and said: "I feel You near, come because I love You as much as ever. Try me and You will see. Come, because I love You so much. My Jesus, oh that I could see You once more and then die." *
*At this time Gemma was living in the household of Cecelia's brother Lorenzo. Annetta was the oldest of his ten children.

And many other things of this sort; To repeat them all would be too much, but you understand, don't you? Now we come to Friday. In the morning she received Holy Communion as usual. After dinner she asked if she might lie down. After a little while I went to see her and ob­served that the blood did not come from the head, but only from the eyes; they were clotted with blood. If you had only seen it; it was like Jesus upon the cross. Father, how she suffers! It is frightening. Tonight I thought that she would die; what a night she passed! One time she said: "Father will know why I suffer; I will tell only him." And then in the morning after Communion the fainting fits began and she said: "I am really good for nothing. I cannot even receive Communion properly."
Poor Gemma, dear Gemma, how you love Jesus! ...

At this time Father Germano wrote to Cecelia to assuage her anxiety concerning Gemma's mystical sufferings, but speaks of the difficulty there is in hav­ing her placed in a convent.

(Ven. Father Germanus writing to Cecilia Giannini):
“…I told you in my other letter not to fear for the health of Gemma. The actual state of this dear child is not the result of natural illness, and therefore doctors, medicines, and other remedies are not called for, and would only serve to increase the sufferings of the unfortunate pa­tient. Ah, please do not repeat the mistake of calling in the doctor. What would a doctor understand? He would say, "Hysteria, hysteria" and that is all, and a stupid laugh directed toward those who believe in the super­natural. And this ridicule Catholic doctors know how to make even better than the unbelievers and free masons. Therefore, absolutely no doctors! Tell Monsignor this in my name.

As for you, I repeat, have no fear. The mystical pas­sions which come directly from God kill no one. She herself has said it many times and proved it. After atro­cious sufferings Gemma returns fresh and vigorous as before. And thus it will be now. The painful effects will endure more or less, will prolong themselves for weeks or months, but they will not threaten this dear child's existence. If it were not so, she would already have died many times on the Fridays up to now. Her health might be ruined as has been the case with those badly directed, but when the action is directed by God, it injures no one. Therefore when you see Gemma gasping, do not fear. Also avoid running with restoratives, comforts, etc., which are out of place. Do not deny moral comfort to this poor child; never leave her alone when she is suf­fering, although she does not seek such comfort. In re­gard to her eating so little, do not be surprised. You will see Gemma not eating at all and living solely on Holy Communion without affecting her health. Gemma says that the Signora Giustina is very ill .... The presence of Gemma in the house will be the cause of saving the life of this dear mother.
[This in fact happened as can be read elsewhere on this website -editor]

I understand the urgent need of cloistering this dear child, but if Jesus does not tell how and where, what am I to do? I do not clearly know what Jesus intends. The only way possible at present would be the convent di­rected by Mother Giuseppa; I see no alternative. With the phenomena: the ecstasies, the swooning, the convul­sions, vomiting blood, falling through exhaustion, and similar things, the convent would be turned upside down, and so would the brains of the nuns; they would run for doctors to make observations, and the uproar would start a scandal; and it would end in affecting me for having shown interest in one subject to hysteria.

Ask Gemma to think well about this, and she will ad­mit that I am right. But she may say: 'When I am in the convent, I will be good and have no more ecstasies, I will eat like the others, I will not swoon, I will not have any need of others to press down my heart, etc.' Well, but can we be sure of it? I should like to believe it; but Jesus ought to tell me so. Therefore tell Gemma to ask Jesus to give me orders and directions, with all particu­lars; and I shall be ready to act. . . . It is in vain that Gemma writes and says: 'Soon, it is time, Jesus wishes it, make me happy.' and similar childishness. How much better it would be to pray to Jesus that He speak clearly and show the way, and say: 'Thus, and not otherwise; in this convent, not in that; tomorrow and not Sunday!'
Tell her to say this to Jesus, and I am here ready to take action. I have need of direction and I await it from Jesus alone. Meanwhile let her resign herself to waiting; and realize that Jesus is not at all pleased with these violent feelings that she manifests."

Gemma herself becomes aware of strange opera­tions of the Holy Spirit, and at times is at a loss to know the meaning of it all. At one impulse she cries out to Jesus, "Wait! Wait!" At another she throws herself into the arms of her Beloved to do with her as He wills.

December 1, 1900
My Father,
". . . And now, Father, do what I ask. On this paper you will find a prayer written; be good enough to read it at once, and tell me if you believe that it is the will of God.

Dear Jesus,
Behold me at Your Most Sacred Feet, dear Jesus, to manifest every moment my recognition and my gratitude for the many and continued favors that You have given me, and that You still wish to give me.
However many times I have invoked You, Oh Jesus, You have always made me happy; I have often had recourse to You, and You have always consoled me. How can I express myself to You, dear Jesus? I thank You. But I ask still another grace, Oh my God, if it is pleasing to You. Wait, Jesus, wait; I am your victim, but wait, my life is in Your hands, but wait. May Your Holy Will be done in all things.
Father, I do not know how else to say it, but you and Jesus will understand me, I hope.
I am poor,
Gemma of Jesus

"My spirit is will­ing but my flesh is weak, weak because I am so lazy. What would I not do for Jesus! For anyone who had just one of His glances, it would suffice; what force, what vigor he would feel! I feel that I would do anything for Him to see Him content; the greatest torment would seem to me easy to bear supported by Him, every drop of my blood I would give willingly, and all to satisfy Him, to prevent poor sinners from offending Him. My God, what do I say? I should wish my voice to reach to the uttermost ends of the earth, I should wish to have all sinners under­stand me, I should want to cry out to them: 'Rather than insult Jesus, prefer to be insulted yourselves.' -St Gemma Galgani


Tim said...

Extraordinary. This fills me with silence and something else i cannot find words for.

Thank you for this wonderful article.

fatheranthonyho said...


This is Father Anthony Ho again.
Thanks for your site. I wrote an article on Guardian Angel for The B.C. Catholic weekly newspaper. The article is for the issue of today (Sept. 28). Your site was very helpful for my writing of the article. I invite you to read this article at my blog:


Many thanks! God bless!