SAINT GEMMA "THE GEM OF CHRIST" BOOK, by Aloysius McDonough

SAINT GEMMA 
"The Gem of Christ” -PIUS XI.

By: ALOYSIUS McDONOUGH, C.P., D.D.

Passionist Monastery Union City, N. J.
Fourth Edition

The SIGN Press Union City, N. J.

Imprimi Potest: COLMAN BYRNE, C.P., Prae. Prov.

Nihil Obstat: THEOPHANE MAGUIRE, C.P., Censor Deputatus

Nihil Obstat: ARTHUR J. SCANLAN, S.T.D., Censor Librorum

Imprimatur: + FRANCIS J. SPELLMAN, D.D., Archbishop of New York.

April 22, 1940.

Published by: The SIGN Press, Union City, N. J.

(Webmaster note: I have concluded that very few copies of this booklet were ever published, as it took almost 25 years for me to come across a copy of this booklet, which I fortunately found for sale on EBAY. Thus, for the sake of its preservation and for the historical record I am posting it in its entirety here for those devoted to Saint Gemma. May it be a source of inspiration and edification for those who read it. +Glenn Dallaire.) 

PREFACE
Our circumstances of birth and death are not of our own choosing. Throughout the span of life, many events also are beyond our control. Apparent helplessness in shaping the course of our earthly fortunes is a continual topic of complaint.
Believing Christians who are honest with themselves admit, however, that the most important matter of all is left entirely in our own hands. The liberty is ours to mould and fashion eternal destiny.
Whether that destiny be one of unending happiness, or of misery without termination, rests with ourselves. To be recognized by God as a friend and welcomed, or to wither under the rejection, "I know you not," depends upon our free choice.

Conscious also of the fact that, friendship with God is too precious to be risked by a thin tie of begrudged service, His saints have strengthened that bond by generous, unstinted devotion. Neither poverty, nor disgrace, nor failure have been obstacles to those truly in love with Him. Kings and beggars, scholars and penitent criminals have alike been haloed with the glory of sanctity.
From sickness and poverty, from disappoint¬ment and misunderstanding, Saint Gemma wove the pattern of a holy life that charmed the Heart of ·Christ Himself-one more proof that not time, or place, or circumstance, but free will and faith determine our eternal destiny. In these days especially, when the shadows of suffering and uncertainty have overcast the lives of wondering millions, surely the example and intercession of this courageous girl will be a consolation and an inspiration.

THEOPHANE MAGUIRE, C.P., Editor of The Sign.

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INTRODUCTION
BIOGRAPHY has a charm all its own, for it is not mere fiction-it tells a true story. Biography etches a mental picture, wherein the tedium of theory is relieved by applications to real life. We who read the history of a man or a woman, are alert to two things-are the accomplishments of so-and-so worthwhile? Is it feasible that we "do in like manner"?

To follow the history of a saint to full ad­vantage is not merely to discover a person whose influence may be engaged for intercession. We should recognize the saint as one worthy of our emulation. What the saint has achieved, by the same grace of God, we can attain-meritorious holiness on earth, plus eternal recompense in Heaven.

In reading the life story of a saint we are prone to blunder. Only too often we over­emphasize the spectacular events that may high­light a saintly career. Miracles, ecstasy,- and the like, are neither necessary for supernatural stamina, nor within the scope of our planned imitation. The virtues that make a saint what he is are normal to every follower of Christ. But the saint is too ambitious to be mediocre. too heroic to follow Christ only "from afar off." Uncompromising and unstinting cooperation with God's grace is the one denominator, common to all the saints. Canonization is a saints "letter ­of-credit"--earned, however while still a member of the Church Militant. Hence, the inspiration radiated by a saint is human as well as divine. We are not "strangers and foreigners but fellow citizens with the saints."

Aloysius McDonough C.P., D.D.

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SAINT GEMMA
Headlines From Heaven

CITY OF GOD, May 2, 1940-Today is the occasion of a joint fiesta, a red-letter day even in Heaven. Angelic spirits- ­nine legions strong, together with all hu­man souls - men, women, and children celebrate the triumphant Ascension of our Risen Saviour, from Earth to Heaven. We recall that, before leaving the Church Militant to the care of His Vicar, He de­clared: "I shall go, and prepare a place for you, that where I am, you also may be." We realize that we shall need all eternity, to enthuse over the wisdom and the might, the mercy and the love of God. To encourage you, we cannot improve on the assurance of Saint Paul: "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love Him.


On this gala day, we exult also because of the recognition accorded on Earth, to Gemma Galgani-saluted by the Vicar of Christ as the "Gem of Christ," announced infallibly as one of us, worthy of the hero-­worship of admiration and imitation. Ac­cording to the calendars of men, it is now thirty years and seven, since Gemma's ar­rival here. But today, her joy attains a new crescendo, as does our own, and even the joy of Christ our Lord.
More so than most of the Saints in Heaven, Gemma - while on Earth - responded to the injunction of Saint Peter:
"Christ suffered for us, leaving you an example that you should follow His steps." 

Hence, Saint Gemma's glory is of the highest, as well as her share in the gladness of God. Today, Saint Gemma exhorts the members of the Church Militant to be ambitious, commendably-to "seek the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth:" to do so, by "looking on Jesus, Who having joy set before Him, endured the cross, and now sitteth on the right hand of the throne of God." We of the City of God, called Heaven, salute you. "This is the day which the Lord hath made: let us rejoice and be glad thereon! "

"To the City and to the World"
VATICAN CITY, MAY 2, 1940

-Since early morning, the faithful have been converging here by tens of thousands-to Saint Peter's, Cathedral of the World. Amid the dense throng, breathing space is all that remains. No nation is without representation. In Christlike democracy, the rich mingle with the poor, the learned with the unlettered. University students and tutors, monks and nuns-their contrasting garbs a pleasing confusion of color and shade. Soldiers of Italy and Papal Guards. Prelates, mitered bishops, cardinals, and upon the Throne of the Fisher­man-the focal point of all eyes-Pius XII. If attention be diverted, momentarily, it is when eyes flicker to and from the likeness of a new Saint-the "Gem of Christ."
This event, as it marches on to its climax, is one of unearthly appeal. The moment has come. With majestic dignity, the Vicar of Christ announces "to the City and to the World": "For the honor of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, for the increase and glory of the Catholic Faith, by the authority of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and of our own, after mature deliberation, and with the counsel of Our Venerable Brothers, the Cardinals, the Patriarchs, the Archbishops and the Bishops, we decree Blessed Gemma to be a Saint; and we command her to be inscribed in the catalogue of the Saints." .

Close upon the echo of the Pontiff's voice, rises the swell of the ‘Te Deum’. The very walls seem to vibrate under the surge of sound-wave, from mighty-throated organ and from pent-up human hearts. Through the mind of every believer, flashes that act of faith: "Christ hath spoken through Pius!" From her picture, hung high above, Saint Gemma seems to smile upon us-her own quiet smile of unspeakable joy, and earnest benediction. Lingeringly, we gaze after the Pontiff, as he is borne aloft on his Chair, amid the spontaneous abandon of hand-clapping, and the enchanting notes of the silver trumpets. As we disperse, we are reluc­tant to talk, for to think aloud would be to reveal the sacred ambition astir in our minds and hearts-to learn from this girl, who has shown us how to live. It is worth­while-a long, long while!

Blessed Event
At the time of Gemma's birth, the Gal­gani family lived in a tiny village ­Camigliano by name - that nestles among the vineyards at the foot of the Italian Apennines. Henry Galgani, the father, was a pharmacist by profession, and a relative of Blessed John Leonard. Aurelia, the mother, was akin to a noble family, the Landi of Florence. All in all, the Gal­gani children were eight in number, of whom Gemma was the fourth, and the first girl among them. Her parents had been praying that God would bless them with a daughter-a prayer that was answered on the 12th of March, 1878.

"Unless born again of water and the Holy Ghost, she cannot enter into the kingdom of God." With a promptitude instinctive to Catholic families, the newborn child was baptized the very next day. A spirited discussion arose, as to the bap­tismal name of this long-awaited daughter. The father, and an uncle -an army physician - favored the name Gemma. But the mother hesitated, objecting that there was no saint by that name, to whom their child could look as a patroness. Aurelia contended that no matter how appropriate the name, to endorse it would be pagan. She was unaware of the fact that there was a saint by the name of Gemma- a French girl, martyred by her own father, for refusing to marry a heathen. However, the parish priest intervened in a way that now seems prophetical. 
"Let her name be Gemma! Who knows? -this little girl may become a gem of Paradise!" 
And so the infant "gem" was baptized Gemma Mary.

City of the Holy Face
To provide adequate schooling for their children, the parents decided to move to the nearby city of Lucca. Traveling from Leghorn-by-the-Sea, via Pisa, we come to Lucca, a few miles to the northeast, and still within the Province of Tuscany. If acquainted with the "Old World" quarter of Montreal or Quebec, one can visualize in a general way, the characteristic features of Lucca. Within its massive walls, Lucca has the semblance of a miniature world. In military history, this prize of war dates back to 218 B.C. The ghosts of Hannibal and Caesar seem still to haunt there. Among the early bishops of Lucca, was Saint Fridian-an Irish boy-convert from Ulster. During his twenty-eight years as shepherd, Lucca became as fam­ous for churches as it had been for battle­ments.

When about three years of age, Gemma was sent to a private school-a kinder­garten directed by two ladies, the Vallini sisters. From their testimony, we learn not a little about the traits manifested by their pupil. Decidedly, Gemma was a normal tot. True, she did excel her child companions in many ways, but this was to be expected, as the result of precocious ability, plus training. Many a child whose development is taken for granted, is really below par, for want of ideal fostering. In the Galgani family, standards were high. The mother especially, had a well-balanced understanding of what education should be. By word and example, she encour­aged the budding aptitudes of her children, pointing their appetites of soul and body to things that really satisfy. She instilled into their minds and hearts the root­like realization that God is the Source of whatever is truly good and enjoyable. In observing Gemma's progress, it is essential to bear in mind that this lesson was taught and learned, as the very ABC's of sane living.

At the kindergarten, Gemma was one of many schoolmates, including two brothers and a sister. From the character-picture as traced by her tutors, we see that she was from the first intelligent, tenacious of memory, companionable, and unoffensively pious. At the age of five, Gemma could read the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin, with ease, as well as the Office for the Dead. She was cheerful and well liked, but at the same time given to a thoughtfulness unusual at her age. She recognized trifles for what they were, and with premature good sense disdained to pout or quarrel. Her unfailing, peaceful smile was catching. By some she was thought singular, because she showed a preference for keeping prayerful company with her saints and angels. But it is to Gemma's credit that she found such company con­genial. Her normalness is evidenced by her reaction to partiality. Her father was devoted to her as his favorite, and in countless ways manifested his especial fondness. Instead of taking advantage of this, Gemma discerned the unfairness of it, and persuaded her father to modulate his affectionate eloquence.

In Lucca, there is a famous crucifix known as the Holy Face. The image of the Crucified, carved in cedarwood, is remarkably impressive-the facial expression pathetic. The body of the figure is clothed in a royal garment, and a gold crown surmounts the head. Aside from legendary information, the origin of this crucifix is unknown, but it has been in Lucca since the Good Friday of 782 A. D., and from it Lucca has derived its religious name-the City of the Holy Face.

This shrine was one of the earliest fac­tors in Gemma's education of soul. There it was that she listened, and remembered indelibly, as her mother explained Who Christ is, how much He suffered, and why. Realizing in her own young way, what the Passion of Christ meant to her Redeemer and to herself, she never wearied hearing of Him. More often than not, she would coax: "Mamma, tell me more about Him!"

A Splinter From the Cross
Gemma's mother knew that she herself was not long for this world. Slowly but steadily, tuberculosis had been undermin­ing her strength. She had prepared Gemma for her first approach to the Sacrament of Repentance, and she was now anxious to commend her child to the special care of the Holy Spirit, before leaving her mother­less.

On the 26th of May, 1885, Gemma received Confirmation from the Archbishop. She remained in church to attend another Mass by way of thanksgiving, and to pray for her mother. What happened during that Mass, we quote in her own words:
"Suddenly, while hearing Mass as well as I could, and praying for Mamma I heard….”a voice in my heart, saying: 'Will you give Me your mother?'

I replied: 'Yes, but take me too.'

The voice continued: 'No, give Me your mother without reserve: for the time being, you must remain with your father. I will take your mother from you, to Heaven. I will take you to Heaven, later.'
I felt obliged to agree and ran home as soon as Mass was over. I looked at Mamma, and wept, and could not speak a word!"

This was the first manifestation of a mysterious but unmistakable telepathy between God and Gemma's soul. Her mother lingered until September, 1886, but in the meantime-because of the danger of infection - Gemma was sent to the home of her Aunt Helen. When word came of her mother's death, Gemma's only consolation was that edifying act of resignation: "I freely offer my life to God to obtain the grace of seeing again and' rejoicing with, my children in Heaven."

First Communion
During the acute stage of their mother's illness, the children had been sent here and there, to live with relatives. Shortly before Christmas, the father recalled them to Lucca. He was anxious to reunite his family, and also to supervise their education. But it was Gemma who heartened the others to carry on, despite their grief. To quicken their drooping spirits, she would often say: "Why weep? Our mother has gone to Heaven. She now suffers no more, whereas before she suffered so much!" Gemma really believed this, and her tone of conviction was persuasive.

Gemma was sent as a day scholar to an academy conducted by the Oblate Sisters of the Holy Ghost. Their influence in her life was providential. The Superior of the school was a Mother Helen, the Found­ress of the Community--a scholarly and saintly woman named Elena Guerra whose beatification is now pending. In a religious way, she was a second mother to Gemma. In this atmosphere, Gemma was being gradually mould­ed as an instrument in the hands of Providence. No wonder that she found her days at the academy "like living in Paradise."

Gemma was now nine years of age but had not as yet received her first Holy Communion. The custom of early Com­munion was not to be restored until the pontificate of Pius X. However, Gemma was so deeply in love with God that she longed to meet Him in Person, to entertain Him within the ciborium of her own heart. She pleaded this permission, day in and day out, with the importunity of one who appreciates the Real Presence. She en­treated her father, the Sisters, her con­fessor. "Let me receive Jesus, and you will see how good I shall be! 1 cannot live without Him!" At long last, she won the day-thanks to her confessor, Monsi­gnor John Volpi, later the Bishop of Arezzo.
With her father's approval, Gemma then did one of those "extraordinary some­things" unintelligible to men and women of feeble faith. She went to the convent of the Oblate Sisters and remained there for a ten-day retreat, in preparation for the reception of her Eucharistic Lord. Her mind and heart are revealed in the final note written to her father, the evening before her First Communion. "Dear Daddy: It is the eve of my First Com­munion. Tomorrow will be a day of su­preme joy for me. I send you these few lines just to assure you of my great love. 1 also want to ask you to pray for me so that Jesus, when coming tomorrow for the first time into my heart, may find it less unworthy to receive Him and to receive the graces He has set aside for me.

Do forgive me for my many faults, for my disobedience and want of love. This evening you must forget all and send a big blessing. Your loving child - Gemma." Among the resolutions entered by Gemma in her "spiritual ledger," that same evening, we find the following: "1 shall go to Confession and receive Holy Communion each time, as if it were the last. I shall frequently visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, but more frequently when I am in trouble."

Gemma's unearthly happiness of June 17th is recorded in her autobiography:
"That Sunday morning I rose early and ran to church, to receive Jesus for the first time. Finally, all my longings were to be gratified. Then I understood the promise of Jesus: 'He that eateth this Bread, shall live by Me.' It is impossible to describe what. passed between Jesus and myself at that moment-it was inexpressi­ble! Jesus made His presence felt very intensely in my poor soul. I realized then how different are the delights of Heaven from those of earth. I was seized by a desire to make that union with God per­petual. I felt myself more detached from the world, and more drawn to the things of God." Every Catholic has had a sim­ilar, even though short-lived experience. In after-life, when adults attend the First  Communion of their darling children, they realize as at no other time that, happiness is in ratio to sinless innocence.

School Days
In a way that any so-called "businessman" might well envy, Gemma's life was becoming organized. Under the combined influence of grace and human guidance, Gemma blended two devotions and made them her life specialty-devotion to her Crucified Redeemer, still present in the Tabernacle and upon the Mass-altar. This method cannot be improved on, for it is God's very own. To save us from eternal ruin of soul and body, God became Man also, and on Crucifixion Friday atoned for us. But on Holy Thursday, He arranged to stay with us in the Eucharistic way, available always and everywhere. To cooperate with His method of human sal­vation and perfection, is the ideal stratagem. Even as a specialty, this twofold devotion is essential to every child of God. In Gemma's case, it is the divine explanation of her unique career.

Only a few years remained to Gemma, after that of her First Communion, until the shadows of Calvary would overcast her life. During the respite, Gemma continued her schooling, and at the same time did her best to take her mother's place at home. As a schoolgirl, one of the Sisters writes of her: "Gemma was the life of the school, and nothing was done without her. All the pupils longed to have her with them in their games and the like, notwith­standing the fact that she was somewhat shy and reserved. No matter what hap­pened, she always had a sweet gracious smile for everybody." As we might expect, mischief was at times abrew in that school as in all others. It happened now and then that Gemma was permitted to shoulder the blame for the real culprits- an occurrence that betokened Gemma's future when with her Divine Saviour she, too was to be a "scape-goat" for a sinful world. Occasionally, Gemma was misunderstood at school-suspected of being aloof and therefore proud. But preoccupation of mind is not a trait of saints alone-any specialist is given to it. Even now Gemma was one of God's heroines in the making, and interpreting her pre­maturity in the light of after events, we can only think of the words of the Lord God: "My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways." Gemma was but consistent with her faith, in attending Mass daily, in frequenting Holy Communion, in rising at night to pray, in gravitating toward Christ Eucharistically present.

Gemma showed that preoccupation over God and her soul was compatible with other duties, for in her schoolwork she was diligent and among the most successful. Of the many prizes awarded her for excellence in study, none so delighted Gemma as the gold medal she won in 1894, for progress in Christian Doctrine. 

Gemma Child of Grace
Gemma was only seven years old when the question was voiced to her concerning the sacrifice of her mother. At the time of her rapturous First Communion, she was nine. From that year onward to the age of nineteen, her life was comparatively uneventful-the counterpart of an average girl in Europe or America. In one respect, however, Gemma was exceptional and superior. Although dedicated to God by only one vow-that of Baptism-she lived up to it with the ardent fidelity of a professional religious.
As often as feasible, she gave to God her time, and the prayerful attention of her mind and heart. In return, God nourished her soul with the psychological vitamin of His grace, and thus Gemma developed in supernatural wisdom, in intelligent love for God, and in virtuous attitudes toward her fellow creatures. She reacted to persons, places, and things according to the standards revealed by God. This outlook accounts for her Christlike charity to the poor. She did the begging for them, and obtained from her father a daily supply of money and provisions. No matter who was in want, Gemma saw Christ impersonated in the afflicted. Dur­ing these years, Gemma's education of soul was above all, preparatory for the imminent future. Her father planned to send her to college, but Gemma seemed to understand that God would dispose otherwise.

The blasphemous wrongness of human sin, the tragedy thereby entailed for bot? men and their Saviour, became the motif of her thoughts. She longed to sacrifice herself unreservedly, in order to further the salvation of souls, and to comfort the Heart of Christ Crucified. Since "without the shedding of blood there is no remis­sion " Gemma realized that as an auxiliary of Christ, she must suffer in body and soul. But her plans were as yet unde­fined, and all through the years to come it was her Savior Who planned out her co-passion with Himself. Until then, she underwent a refined process of detach­ment from the counterfeit pleasures of earth and of whole-souled attachment to God. Typical of this novitiate-like period is the reproof that Gemma received from her Angel Guardian for flaunting jewelry.

Eclipse
A brother of Gemma-Eugene, by name -had been a student for the priesthood. He gave promise of a brilliant future, and as early as eighteen years of age had been advanced to Minor Orders. However, he became tubercular and was obliged to return home. Until he died, Gemma served as his nurse, day and night. Because of their common interest and purpose in life, they were most congenial souls. To lose Eugene was a trial second only to the loss of her saintly mother.

Exhausted by fatigue and grief, Gemma was forced to stay abed for three months. But her recovery was only partial, and she had finally to discontinue attendance at school. Prompted by a longing for Heaven as "a thing by far the better," Gemma asked God to take her. With the patience and trust of a child of grace, she was resigned to His decision: "Daugh­ter, during your life I shall give you many occasions of greater merit, redoubling your desire for Heaven, and giving you the grace to support with patience your life on earth."

Soon afterward Gemma developed a foot disease that called for painful surgery. During this ordeal Gemma refused an anaesthetic and centering her gaze upon an image of Christ Crucified, she bore the pain without a groan. A few months later Gemma's family was reduced to poverty. Her father had been prosperous but un­wisely generous with those who sought loans and credit. Death and illness in the family were a further drain on his thinning resources. Finally the crash came---every­thing was attached by his creditors. Her father was then stricken with cancer of the throat. Again Gemma became the nurse until her father died in 1897. That day the creditors seized Gemma's all but empty purse and rifled her pockets. Yet Gemma's only regret was that she had nothing to share with the poor.

Proposals
Gemma was now invited to live in a nearby village, with her Aunt Caroline, who was well-to-do. It meant one less to be provided for in Lucca, so Gemma accepted the offer. But she was not content in her new sphere. Longing as she did for convent life, she found shopkeeping and social functions distasteful. Before long providential circumstances eased the way for her return to Lucca. Several years before, a cavalry officer had aspired to marry Gemma. He followed her on the way to school and kept vigil beneath the windows of her home. With an aunt as an ally, she succeeded in routing him. Now she was sought after by a young chemist, and also by the son of a wealthy physician. Gemma was "pretty as a picture," and in every way charmingly attractive. A formal proposal was conveyed to Gemma, through the doctor and her Aunt Caroline. To the disappointment and perplexity of all, she declined it. "I belong to Jesus," she declared, "and all my thoughts and affections are for Him alone." To avoid further complications, she decided to re­turn to Lucca. Already a new affliction had set in - a spinal condition - and Gemma utilized this development as a plea to escape. Outfitted with a convent ward- robe, donated by her aunt, Gemma de­parted.

Apostolate
At Lucca, Gemma received a cold wel­come from the aunt who presided over a now destitute family. Her spinal complaint grew worse, and complications fol­lowed-paralysis and nephritis. Gemma then became deaf and shed all her hair. In this pitiable condition, she lay abed helpless for a year. Her bodily pain was intense and aggravated by an iron brace that kept her almost immovable. Her only sign of distress was one of sympathy for those taxed with her care. The significant feature of Gemma's suffering is the spirit of atonement whereby she trans­muted human anguish and made it fruit­ful of divine mercy. Although Gemma did not realize it fully, her vocation as a co-victim with the God-Man had already begun. Her apostolate was one of expia­tion, of edification and intercession in behalf of unrepentant sinners. What she accomplished for God and for souls is exemplified in the case of a woman, con­verted from a life of sin as thoroughly as the original Magdalene. To facilitate the perseverance of this poor derelict, Gemma sacrificed the allowance sent to her each month by Aunt Caroline.

Introduction to a Saint
Time and again Gemma was subjected to subtle and persistent temptation. On one occasion she felt on the verge of des­pair, and the devil spoke to her mentally:
"If you will but listen to me, I will free you from all your pain and make you happy!" Gemma cried out: "No! No! the soul first, and then the body!" She invoked the help of a Passionist student ­known today as Saint Gabriel-and at once her soul was relieved and at peace. At that time, Gabriel was titled Venerable, and was a candidate for beatification. Gemma had learned of him through a visitor, who loaned her a biography of the young Passionist, and also a relic. Gemma's rescue by this saint-elect was her introduction to the Passionists. Before she had time to finish reading the Life of Venerable Gabriel, she was obliged to re­turn the book. In the midst of her disappointment, Gabriel appeared to Gemma for the first time, consoling her with the words: "Be good, and I shall come again to see you."

During these days Gemma renewed her promise to become a nun if God willed to make that step feasible. To certify the promise, and with the approval of her confessor, she decided on a vow of virginity. This vow she plighted on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, 1898. The night before, Gabriel again appeared to Gemma, and said to her: "Gemma, make your vow, but add nothing to it." Perplexed, Gemma inquired the why of this injunction. Gabriel smiled upon her, but said only: "My sister!" He then de tached from his religious habit the heart­badge worn by the Passionists. Placing it over Gemma's heart, he saluted her again -"My sister! "-and disappeared.
Gemma's Cure

Early in 1899, Gemma's condition seemed hopeless. In twelve places, her spine was cauterized, and again she imi­tated her Crucified Master by refusing a narcotic. On the 2nd of February, she re­ceived Viaticum, and the doctors predicted her death by midnight. Later that month Gemma was urged by her confessor-now Bishop-Auxiliary of Lucca - to make a novena to Blessed Margaret Mary. Gemma began the novena, but in her weariness forgot it twice, and had to start again. What took place during her third effort, we quote from her own account:

"I heard the sound of a rosary, and felt a hand placed on my forehead. A voice be­gan to say the prayers, nine times. The same voice asked me: 'Do you wish to be cured?' I replied: 'It is all the same to me.' The voice continued: 'You will be cured. Pray with faith to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Every evening till the end of the novena, I will come and we shall pray together to the Sacred Heart.' I said: 'And what about Blessed Margaret Mary?' 'Add the Glory be to the Father, three times, in her honor,' was the reply." Gemma continues: "Early on the morning of the First Friday, I received Holy Communion. Jesus said to me: 'Gemma, I shall always be with you, My daughter. I am thy Father,' and - indicating Mary, the Mother of Sorrows-'she will be thy mother. A father's help will never be wanting to whoever puts himself in My hands. Although I have taken away from you every support and consolation on earth, nothing will ever be wanting to you.' Two hours later, I got up." To the astonishment and joy of all Lucca, Gemma was indeed cured! The reaction of everyone was expressed well in the four words of the surgeon: "Gemma-pray for me!"

Vocation? 
Now that Gemma's health was restored, it was taken for granted by all who knew her that she would become a religious without delay. Gemma made haste to bring true her life-dream - a career of prayer and self-sacrifice, preferably in the cloister. All religious communities have essentially the same purpose-the further­ance of God's glory, by means of self-per­fection and charity to others. However, we find as many varieties of religious as there are shades of color in the solar spectrum. Each group has a distinctive characteristic, a sort of personality. A candi­date may be adapted for one type of religious life, and unsuited for another. The solitary of La Trappe or Carmel would be out of element in the field of a missionary. The hospital Sister finds her sphere congenial, while others imitate Christ the Teacher.

In what particular direction was Gemma called? A clear-cut answer to this urgent question was still lacking. Gemma felt disconcerted. During her illness she had been promised admission to a community of Nursing Sisters, provided she were to recover. This opportunity seemed to beckon, but she thought also of the Visi­tation Nuns. Their cloister appealed strongly to Gemma. Nor was she unmind­ful of her cure through the intercession of Blessed Margaret Mary-a Visitandine. To add to her uncertainty, how was she to interpret the salutation of Gabriel the Passionist? Definitely, he had addressed her as "My sister"; significantly, he had bestowed on her the insignia of a Passion­ist. So she took her problem to Bishop Volti, her confessor since childhood. After God, no one knew Gemma's soul as he did.

The Bishop advised Gemma to apply to the Visitation uns for admission. Apparently the decision was made wisely, for Gemma would be at home in the cloister, and the Rule of the Community, while conducive to holiness, was not severe. This latter consideration seemed impor­tant, for despite Gemma's thorough cure, she was not robust. On the recommenda­tion of the Bishop, Gemma was accepted as a postulant, and directed to report for retreat on May 1, 1899.

Rejection
Her joy was boundless. Gemma looked forward to the cloister as an ideal setting in which to respond to the yearnings of her soul. She would be still in this world, but no longer of the world: still on earth but at the threshold of Heaven. During retreat, however, she entertained some doubt as to whether this particular cloister was her appointed place. With increas­ing emphasis, the Lord had intimated to Gemma that He expected her to be peni­tential. For example, one evening during the previous month, Christ Crucified appeared to Gemma and said to her as He pointed to His gaping wounds: "Look, My daughter, and learn how to love! This cross, these thorns, nails, bruises and scars, these wounds, this blood-all are the effects of an infinite love I Behold to what an extent I have loved thee! Do you really desire to love Me? Learn how to suffer first, for suffering will teach you how to love!" Manifestly, Gemma realized that her recent cure implied no emancipation from suffering. 

Though Gemma had no alternative cloister in mind, the decision was made for her by others. Word came that she was refused admission as a novice! The Archbishop and the Mother Superior had their reasons--Gemma was frail, she was too poor to provide a dowry, her piety was singular and she might prove to be an exception rather than an exemplar of the Rule. 

But the ultimate reason was God's own-directing Gemma to remain among the laity.

Interlude
Gemma returned home, willing enough to be rejected, as her poor Saviour had been, but still unaware of His plans for her. At the Visitation convent, some hope had been expressed regarding her re-admission. With that encouragement, Gemma called there almost daily, to in­quire. Finally, she was told that the quest was futile. New hopes were then frustrated-she was rejected also by the Carmelites, the Capuchins, and the Man­tellite Sisters.

For the time being, Gemma busied" her­self with housework and prayer. With a younger sister, she went to church morn­ing and evening. On Sundays, they prayed at the tomb of their parents. Gemma still hoped to find an environment wherein she could devote every conscious mo­ment to God. Since May 20th-the day of her dismissal from the convent-the dominant note of her prayers had been one of earnest petition: "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" She prayed with trusting patience, for of one thing she was certain-God would not disappoint her. That assurance had been communicated to her in so many words: "Take cour­age ... abandon yourself without reserve to Him. Place no obstacle in the way of His designs, and you will see what progress you will make in a short time. Be afraid of nothing, for the Heart of Jesus is a Throne of Mercy, where the most miserable are the best welcomed."

In a way that is astounding, and rare even among the saints, Gemma's prayer was answered on the 8th of June, 1899. It was a Thursday, the vigil of the Feast of the Sacred Heart. Thursday had be­come dear to Gemma, as the day of her weekly Holy Hour. The Feast of the Sacred Heart was the anniversary of her first eucharistic meeting with Christ Cruci­fied. We cannot improve on Gemma's own account of that memorable night. The following is a quotation in part:

"Marks of the Lord Jesus"
"It was evening. I began to feel a great sorrow for my sins, so great indeed, that I had never experienced anything like it before. At the same time I recalled all the torments which Jesus endured for my sal­vation. I found myself in the presence of my heavenly Mother, with my Guard­ian Angel on her right. He bade me re­cite an act of contrition, and when I had finished, my loving Mother addressed me in these words: 'Daughter, in the name of Jesus, let all thy sins be forgiven. Jesus, my Son, loves thee much, and wishes to confer a favor on thee. Canst thou render thyself worthy of it? I will be a Mother to thee-wilt thou show thy­self a true daughter of mine?' She then opened her mantle and covered me with it. The same instant, Jesus appeared with all His wounds open, but instead of blood, flames as it were of fire issued from them. In an instant, those flames touched my hands, feet, and heart. I felt as if I were dying, and had not my heavenly Mother supported me, I would have fallen. When I came to, I found myself kneeling upon the floor. I still felt intense pain in my hands, feet, and heart. As I arose to lie down on my bed, I became aware that blood was flowing from those parts where I felt pain. I covered them as well as I could, and assisted by my Guardian Angel, I succeeded in reaching my bed."

Gemma now knew what her divine Saviour had meant, that very morning, when after Holy Communion, He had said: "Courage, Gemma-I am waiting for thee on Calvary, toward which thou art journeying." During a previous Holy Hour spent in intimate converse with her Lord, Gemma had been asked: "Dost thou desire this cross? Behold, this is the gift I have prepared for thee!" Gemma's answer had been: "Oh my Jesus, do give it to me, but give me also the strength to bear it, for my shoulders are weak. But, my Jesus, if I suffer, is that a sign that I love Thee?" And Gemma was assured that the clearest sign He could give to a soul dear to Him, was to lead that soul on the road to Calvary.

The words of the Apostle had become literally true of Gemma: "In my body I bear the marks of the Lord Jesus." When Friday dawned, Gemma was in a quan­dary. She could not conceal her wounds successfully, but felt shy about revealing them. Her humility was such that she took it for granted others must be marked in a similar way. Cautiously, she made a few inquiries, but in vain. No one understood. Of those early hours, she writes:

"In the morning, I found it difficult to go to Holy Communion. I put on a pair of gloves to hide my hands. I could not remain standing, and felt every moment that I should die. Those pains did not leave me until 3 o'clock on Friday after­noon." Upon her return from Mass and Holy Communion, Gemma decided to con­fide in. her aunt. Opening h~r cloak, and extending her hands, she said: "Aunt­see what Jesus has done to me!"

Sacred Passion in Miniature
This marvel of the five bleeding wounds was to continue every week, from June 8, 1899, until February 12, 1901. The wounds reappeared each Thursday eve­ning about 8 o'clock and bled until about 3 o'clock on Friday afternoon. We em­body here a compressed description of Gemma's appearance on those days, as attested by Father Germanus, the Pas­sionist, who was soon to become her spiritual director.

At the usual time, Gemma became recol­lected-a condition that soon developed into ecstasy. Then red marks appeared on the palm and back of each hand. Under 

the skin, the flesh opened gradually until finally the skin burst, and gaping wounds were visible. As a rule, the punctures were very deep, seeming to extend from palm to back. The cavities were filled with blood, at times flowing, at times congealing. Her hands closed convulsively, due to the violence of pain. The palms manifested a swelling about an inch in diameter-fleshy, hard, and like the head of a nail. The wounds in the feet were large, and livid at the edges. Most often, the wounds developed within a few minutes, though sometimes in an instant. Gemma would tremble from head to foot with anguish. The opening in her side measured about two inches by a quarter-inch, and was crescent in shape. Blood discharged from the wounds in such quantity as to flow to the ground, when not absorbed by bandage. Gemma's garments became saturated, as well as layers of linen that she applied. This flow of blood would subside at intervals, only to begin again. The disappearance of the wounds was equally remarkable. At the appointed time, the blood ceased to flow; the flesh and skin began to heal, and by Saturday or Sunday at the latest, the only remaining trace was a slight scar. 
Wounds such as these have come to be called "stigmata," and the per son so marked is known as a "stigmatist," or "stigmatic." The author has been privileged to stand by the bedside of another stigmatist - Theresa Neumann, by name 

Theresa was born a year before Gemma's stigmata began, and this woman of Kon¬nersreuth, in Germany, has had the "wounds of Christ" since Lent of 1926. In essential features, the two cases seem to be identical. The sufferings of the stigmatist are second only to the Passion of Christ Himself. These chosen souls are faithful copies of the Original- of the Divine Stigmatist, Christ Crucified. 

Human, Satanic, or Divine? 
Among the followers of Christ, there have been over three hundred cases of genuine stigmata. This phenomenon is found among Catholics exclusively. The first on record is Saint Francis of Assisi. In secondary details, there has been considerable variation in the wounds received by stigmatics-some were marked only in hands, feet, and side; others, with the thorn punctures of the head, and with the furrows of the scourging as well. 

In contrast to the attitude of the Church toward stigmatism, there are two other reactions-excessive credulity and extreme incredulity. Some are inclined to regard all apparent wonders as genuine, and to insist that any genuine marvel is necessarily of supernatural origin-attributable solely to divine intervention. Their enthusiasm might be dampened, were they to study with an open mind, the records of fraudulent cases. 

On the other hand, the pseudo-scientist is so infected by irreligious skepticism as to be intellectually dishonest and unre­liable. In Maryland, there is an information bureau for medical data pertinent to such cases as that of Gemma. Some of the reports on file bespeak a more laugh­able absurdity and worse extremism than that of the over-credulous. In any scientific investigation of miracles and the like, we must bear in mind two facts. The God Who made this world is capable of direct action among His creatures, for no created agent is independent of the Creator. Then, too, miracles on earth have always appealed to divine wisdom as an effective means of heavenly propaganda. Hence, to say the least, the miraculous is possible, and not without sufficient reason. Mir­acles are both feasible and appropriate.

No judge hastens more slowly than the Church in pronouncing on the rare mar­vel of stigmatism. Diabolical agency must be reckoned with as a possible source of counterfeit stigmata. Other causes to be considered are, hypnosis and hysteria. Kindred to stigmata is the phenomenon of bloody sweat-uncommon, but not necessarily an outcome of divine intervention.

Miracles accepted by the Church as incontestably divine, and as a supernatural voucher for the sanctity of those to be canonized or beatified, do not consist of stigmata. In connection with her recognition of heroic sanctity, the Church s only concern is to determine that the stigmatist is beyond suspicion of fraud, hysteria, and the like.

However, in a case like that of Gemma, we have reasonable certainty that the stigmata were genuine and of divine origin. Besides the scientific elimination of all suspicious factors, it is a matter of record that while her wounds never healed naturally, neither did they fester. When attempts were made to treat the wounds, they became worse instead of better. Her stigmata ceased when, in compliance with a command of her confessor, she petitioned God to so intervene. Because of the interaction of body and soul, some contend that Gemma's psychological state would account for her bodily condition. But even though Gemma's soul was an intermediate factor, it would be intermediate between her stigmatized body and God­ Who alone can sanctify a soul. The best solvent for skepticism would be to attend the ecclesiastical court of inquiry, and listen in to the scholarly refutation of the Church's own "devil's advocate."

Designs of God
To realize God's purpose in the forma­tion of a stigmatic saint, is not only of captivating interest, but sobering as well.' Gemma suffered the bodily pain of cruci­fixion, coupled with anguish of soul. Yet her innocence was well nigh flawless. Man­ifestly, she suffered as she did, not because of her own personal misdeeds, but to merit for others the grace of repentance.

In her willingness to thus co-operate with our divine Saviour, Gemma was unwavering, even eager. Her attitude toward suffering was not that of a neurotic, but of one educated to the curative value of penance for souls contaminated by sin. Expiation accomplishes two things. Nega­tively it pays our debt to divine justice. Positively, it reconciles us to God. Hence, atonement might be pronounced as at­onement, for thereby a prodigal not only ceases to wander from his father's house­, he is assured of a welcome home. At­onement converts the sinner into a saint. To merit this grace for souls Gemma suffered for them, with the "Man of Sorrows”. And in so arranging, He had us in mind and in His Heart.

Strange indeed are the ways of God ­to permit an innocent saint to suffer peni­tentiallly. But stranger still, that sinners go their way unrepentant. Gemma's self-­sacrifice was expensive, but fruitful: of her divine Master, Caiphas had said: "It is expedient that one man die for the people:" So too, with Christ Gemma suffered “to expiate the sins of many."

If it seems unreasonable that Gemma be “commandeered” as a scapegoat for sinful men and women, then it is unreason­able to the nth degree that "He was wounded for our iniquities," that "the chastisement of our peace was upon Him," that a God-Man atone for men. Like Saint Paul the Apostle, Gemma could ex­claim: "I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up those things that are want­ing of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for His body-which is the Church." That is to say-Gemma was called to "make up arrears" for impenitent souls, as yet unconformed to Christ the "Medi­ator of God and men." “But the sensual man perceiveth not these things that are of the spirit of God, for it is foolishness to him and he cannot understand."

Part and parcel of the designs of God, in pro­viding us with Gemma the stigmatic saint, has been to impress upon us of today that, Christ crucified, though "unto Jews a stumbling-block, and unto Gentiles fool­ishness," is still "unto them that are called, the power of God and the wisdom of God." This is the burden of Gemma's message to a suicidal world. Her infallible canoni­zation by the Vicar of Christ Crucified is our assurance that her way-the way of the Cross-leads to Heaven.

Daughter of the Passion
Gemma's reception of the stigmata on June 8th, was a climax to previous weeks of apparition, vision, and ecstasy. She had maintained secrecy as to these won­ders, except for the unavoidable confidence divulged to her aunt. Even her confessor ­Bishop Volpi was unaware of recent developments. Gemma considered herself so unworthy of divine favors that she was deeply embarrassed. With no difficulty, she could be frank in declaring her faults, but the prospect of self-commendation made her tongue-tied. At the same time, she felt urgently the need of advice.

From the day of the first apparition, Gemma had been admonished by her Angel Guardian to reveal everything to her confessor. Finally, the tone of her Angel became one of reproof: "It is very wrong of you to hide these things from your confessor. Remember-and I am speaking to you about it for the last time -if you keep silent again about this mat­ter, I shall not let you see me again."

Providentially, a solution of her prob­lem had been arranged. It was the eve of the twentieth century and Leo XIII had enjoined that missions be conducted throughout all Italy. The Passionist Fathers were assigned to Lucca and preached their mission in the cathedral. Toward the end of June Gemma went to the mission church and to her surprise and joy saw missionaries clad in the uniform of Venerable Gabriel. Of this turn of events, Gemma writes: ·"We had come to the last day of the holy mission. All the people were gathered in the church for the general Communion. I was taking part with the others and Jesus, Who was pleased, made Himself clearly felt in my soul, and asked: 'Gemma, do you like that habit with which the priest is clothed?' And He indicated a Passionist in my vicinity. It was not necessary for me to answer Jesus in words, for my heart was speaking with its palpitations. 'Would you also like to be clothed in a habit like that?' Jesus added. He continued: 'Yes, you will be a daughter of My Passion, and a favorite daughter. One of these children of mine will be a father to you. Go and make everything known to him.'"

Confirmatory Signs
Thus encouraged, Gemma went to the confessional of one of the missionaries. But she felt such a constriction of the throat that she was unable to speak. She then tried the confessional of Father Cajetan and was able to tell him, with perfect 'ease, the story of her life. The missioner was impressed, but wisely post­poned any expression of his opinion. He promised to confer with her again upon his return to Lucca,but enjoined that in the meantime she reveal all to her regular confessor. Father Cajetan arranged with Gemma that he speak for her to the Bishop, whom they interviewed together. The Bishop received them cordially, approved of the missionary's directions, and recommended -rather dryly- that Gemma make an additional vow-of candor with her confessor.


A month later, another Passionist came to Lucca. As we shall explain presently, Gemma had, by this time, taken up resi­dence in the home of the Giannini fam­ily. It was here that the first meeting took place between Gemma and Father Peter Paul Moreschini - then Provincial Superior and later Archbishop of Camer­ino. Distinguished for holiness, learning, and prudence, this priest had served the Pope as Apostolic Visitor to many dioceses.

At first he was not well impressed by Gemma and he made no effort to conceal his reaction. Her petition to be received as a Passionist Nun, or as a Lay Sister, he rejected. But from that moment his precautionary attitude melted, for Gemma manifested neither upset nor resentment, despite his indifference. However, Father Peter Paul submitted her to further test: 
"Ask Jesus to give me two indications that I have in mind at this moment." Her counsellor had in mind that he be permitted to see with his own eyes the stigmata and the sweat of blood. Gemma prayed accordingly, and that very afternoon, while recollected to the point of ecstasy, she had a copious perspiration of blood. Word was sent to Father Peter Paul and he observed it for himself. At the end of the ecstasy Gemma said to "Aunt Cecilia" Giannini: "The Father has asked two signs from Jesus, and Jesus has told me that He has given him one and will give him the other." . Toward evening the stigmata developed in the palms of the hands. Father Peter Paul was again summoned. It is noteworthy that this sign from Heaven was given on a Wednesday full day before the usual weekly recurrence. 

Affliction of Soul 
In conformity with her Redeemer, Who suffered in Soul as well as in Body, Gemma was afflicted also in mind and heart. This phase of her suffering had been foretold, as she records: "Jesus made me understand that I would have to suffer during the rest of my life, that He would soon test me to see if I truly loved Him; that I should experience aridity of spirit, and be afflicted and be tempted. He told me that my fidelity would be shown when I felt myself inclined to evil, when the pleasures of the world would appear worthwhile, and memory recall to mind what I did not desire; when it would seem that I had lost all relish for the things of God." 

She continues, quoting our Lord directly: "With My permission, the demons will make continual efforts to overcome your soul. They will put evil thoughts into your mind, and give you a great distaste for prayer. You will suffer outrages and injuries; no one will believe in you any longer. You will receive no comfort from anyone, not even from your superiors. What will pain you most will be that Heaven will seem deaf to your pleadings. You will desire to be recollected and instead you will be distracted. When you receive Holy Communion, or go to Confession, you will feel no fervor: these things will be wearisome to you. You will go through your customary exercises of devotion, as it were, through mere routine, and you will think it time lost. You will believe and hope and love, but as if you did not, because you will be without feeling." Without doubt, Gemma was to be a living martyr, a soul of heroic fidelity. We might say that she was "stigmatized" in soul as well as in body.

Of the misunderstandings that Gemma was subject to, no small per cent occurred in her own home. She did her utmost to conceal whatever might occasion com­ment, but to little avail. Within the house and by outsiders, she was spied on and even ridiculed. Gemma found it hard to understand such fickleness, in that only a short time before all concerned had been so grateful to God for her miraculous cure. How keenly Gemma felt the intrusion on sacred privacy we can gather from a let­ter to her confessor: "N-- knows every­thing about me. This morning she and my brother were making fun. From eleven this morning until three this afternoon, I have not been left alone. She says she wants to see everything-she is like a little imp. My aunts look on and smile. She even brought her schoolmates to the house, saying: 'Let's go see Gemma in ecstasy!' Yesterday she shouted like that outside the front door for everyone to hear."

Soured, as some members of the family were, by their destitution, they became ad­dicted to quarreling and would vent their feelings in blasphemy. One evening a brother of Gemma felt thwarted because he was in want of theater money. Gemma tried to, silence his curses with a word of consolation, but the brother struck her so forcibly as to blacken her eye. On another occasion she heard such a torrent of blasphemous language that she broke out from head to foot in a perspiration of blood. Her aunt took sides with her nephew rather than with Gemma. Of this episode, Gemma wrote to her confessor:
"One of my aunts followed me to my room, very angry, and seized me by the throat. 'You must tell me where all that blood comes from-if not, I shall beat you until you do.' She said it was time to give up all this tomfoolery. I told her: 'The blasphemies of your nephew are the cause of it-when I hear it I see Jesus suffering and I suffer with Him.' And I cried bitterly." In all probability, the attitude of Gemma's family was due to a want of discernment, and to a fear that she had been bewitched.

Sanctuary
Gemma was soon to enjoy a new home- ­an ideal sanctuary in which to undergo her reenactment of the Sacred Passion. In Lucca, there was a family by the name of Giannini - conspicuous both as ideal citizens and as Catholics. They had pro­vided a guest house for the Passionist Fathers who had occasion to sojourn in Lucca. This accommodation was a min­iature monastery - comprising rooms, a refectory and chapel. It was natural, then, upon his return to Lucca, that Father Cajetan arrange to confer with Gemma at the Giannini residence. This conference brought about Gemma's introduction to the family's Aunt Cecilia. This lady was to become her constant companion during the years to come. At the suggestion of Father Cajetan, and with the approval of Bishop Volpi, Gemma was invited to live permanently with this family. 

Despite their attitude toward Gemma, her own relatives were reluctant to part with her, but finally yielded. The Aunt Cecilia, who was to be as a mother to her, was the one who proposed Gemma's adoption by the Giannini family. The welcome accorded to Gemma by that household is reflected in the words of the father: "She will make the twelfth child God has given to me!" 
From September of 1900, Gemma spent her remaining years in this new house. In these surroundings she was able to meditate and pray at will. Accompanied by Cecilia, she went to church morning and evening. At home she volunteered in every way possible to lighten the burdens of the family-by nursing the sick, mending, and helping the children with their lessons. Mrs. Giannini echoed the sentiments of all the family when she testified: 

"As regards the esteem in which she was held in the house, I can say that I never saw her commit the slightest fault. All the others had the same opinion of her. For instance, when I told my oldest boy that I feared I had cancer, he said to me: 'Didn't Gemma tell you that such is not the case? Why don't you believe her?' " 

Suspicion 
Ever since July of 1899 Bishop Volpi had been worried over Gemma because of the possibility of deception. Hysteria might explain her condition, or satanic interference - in either case, without any fault on Gemma's part. He directed Cecilia to consult a doctor, one designated by himself. The physician was not at all reassuring. Gemma was aware of her confessor's anxiety, and it made her unhappy to burden him. Finally, the Bishop decided to bring the doctor to the house for an examination of the "patient." After a period of ecstasy, on the morning of September 8th, a Friday, Gemma wrote a note to the Bishop, urging him to come alone, that the Lord was displeased at his plan to bring a doctor, and should the doctor come there would be nothing for him to see. 

However, the visitors came as arranged. Just before their arrival blood had been flowing from Gemma's forehead and from the stigmatic wounds. In the presence of a numerous group the doctor wiped Gemma's hands and forehead with a damp towel, and as he did so, no trace of a wound was discernible, nor did the flow of blood continue! Gemma's prophetic letter to her confessor was one explanation, but many of those present interpreted the outcome as a confirmation of the doctor's claim-Gemma was just a patient, and one whose condition had been greatly exaggerated, owing to contagious excitement. Gemma noticed their change of attitude toward her, and felt it keenly during the days that followed. But she recognized the atmosphere of suspicion as the cross of misunderstanding - a trial already foretold. 

Apropos of this trial, Gemma wrote to her confessor: "If you were to see how many have changed their attitude toward me since that day! One thinks that I am a somnambulist, others that I am ill others again that it is I myself who scratch the marks in my hands and feet. Jesus told me that He has permitted all these things to happen, but He has reassured me that by means of the Father, He will convince my confessor." (Gemma's reference to "the Father," indicated Father Germanus a Passionist, whom she had yet to meet.) In another letter, she wrote to the Bishop: 

"Had you been alone that day, Jesus would have convinced you. He has said to me: 'Do you remember My telling you, that a day would come when no one would believe you? That day has come. You are much more acceptable to Me when you are despised than when everyone regarded you as a saint!' So let them think it is hysteria, as the doctor says. You will be convinced."

Later on that month Father Cajetan visited Gemma and repeated the doctor's test. He reported to the Bishop: "There were actual wounds in her hands-I say actual wounds because they were deep and although we washed them three or four times, they did not disappear." Before long, confidence in Gemma was restored among her adopted family. In fact, toward evening on the day of the doctor's visit, Cecilia saw for herself the reappearance not only of blood but of the wounds also. 

Father Germanus
Bishop Volti, churchman though he was, persisted in being skeptical. His incredulity proved, however, to be providential. In any such case, the final convictions of a one-time skeptic are unswerving: furthermore, his ultra-conservatism was the occasion of an important development in Gemma's life. She tells us about it in her autobiography.

"I made a special prayer to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and suddenly I found I was before Jesus, but He was not alone. Near Him was a man with white hair, somewhat stout, and from his habit, I knew he was a Passionist priest. I looked at him and Jesus said to me: 'Daughter, do you know him?' I answered that I did not. He continued: 'That priest will be your director, and it is he who will recognize in you the work of My infinite mercy.' " 

With the assent of the Bishop, Gemma wrote to Father Germanus. But it would take more than the letters of an unknown girl to win the serious attention of so experienced a person as he. Father Germanus was a man of wide and deep learning, highly respected by secular professional men, and by the Holy Father. Finally, at the behest of the Provincial Superior, and of the Bishop, Father Germanus went to Lucca. The following is an excerpt from his own account of what he witnessed, his first Thursday evening at the Giannini residence: 

"Her adopted mother came to call me. I found the maiden in ecstasy. The subject of the ecstasy was the conversion of a sinner, in the form of a struggle between her and Divine Justice to obtain this conversion. I confess that I never beheld anything more affecting. Gemma was sitting on her bed, turned toward a part of the room where our Lord appeared to her. She was not agitated but earnest and resolute, like one in a struggle who is determined to win at all costs. Gemma said: 'As Thou art here, Jesus, I renew my supplications for my sinner.' And she named him. Our Lord seemed disposed to deal with this man as a just Judge, unmoved by her entreaties. But Gemma was not deterred. 'Oh Jesus', save him! Do not say that to me! In Thy mouth-Thou Who art Mercy itself-that word abandon sounds badly: Thou hast shed Thy Blood for him as well as for me. He will become good and will not fall again. I offer myself a victim for all, but particularly for him.' 

"At this point, to prove to Gemma what reason He had for remaining firm, our Lord began to show her, with the most minute circumstance, the evil deeds of that sinner. The poor girl showed her dismay; she sighed deeply, as if she had lost hope. But of a sudden another motive flashed to her mind. 'Jesus, I present to Thee another advocate for my sinner it is Thine own Mother who asks Thee to forgive-canst Thou say "No" to Thy Mother?' The victory was gamed; the whole scene changed aspect, and with a look of indescribable joy, Gemma exclaimed: 'He is saved! Jesus, Thou hast conquered! ' Gemma's ecstasy then ceased."

Father Germanus had hardly retired to his room when a man was announced to him as desirous of confession. He was Gemma's sinner! He knelt, and in tears confessed the sins enumerated in the ecstasy. Father Germanus. was deeply impressed. As he expressed It: The devil is able to drag sinners to perdition, but not to convert them!" 

Passion Flower 
Father Germanus was an expert theologian and psychologist. His skill is evidenced by the scientific thoroughness of his reports on Gemma, and by his success as Promoter of Saint Gabriel's canonization. During Gemma's last three years on earth, he guided her by word and by letter. He made an exhaustive study of every point involved in the verification of her sanctity. The scope of his investigation included problems both physical and psychological, the action of sanctifying grace in Gemma's soul as manifested by virtues; the exalted, mystical quality of her prayer; and such rare gifts of grace as ecstasy, prophecy, and the like. 

Throughout the course of his guardianship, Father Germanus had ample opportunity to observe Gemma. Her share in the Passion of Christ was so extensive that the Crucified Himself said to her: 
"My daughter, there are few in Heaven to whom it has been given to share so largely in My sufferings." In addition to the five wounds already described, Gemma received many others. Her brow and head were punctured as by thorns, and the area was such as to indicate a thorny cap rather than a wreath. When this occurred, blood oozed from her head and from her eyes. 

The pain that accompanied these hemorrhages was, of course, intense and humanly unbearable. In February of 1901, at the command of her director, she prayed that the stigmata cease. The usual wounds did come to an end, but Gemma was told by our Lord that, despite the cessation of all external signs, she would continue to experience internal pain. Before the actual termination of the usual stigmata, others began - the welts and furrows of the scourging, and a deep gash in her shoulder such as would develop from a shouldered cross. 

Gemma was afflicted also in mind and heart. Her participation in the mental anguish of Gethsemane brought on a perspiration of blood and tears of blood. Though sheltered at home, Gemma was annoyed - even insulted when she ventured out of doors. Young ruffians went so far as to spit in her face. By one of her own gender-a visitor at the house- she was taunted: "You worthless consumptive and tiresome nuisance, when will you die and cease to soil this house with your presence?" Since through the envy of the devil sin entered into the world, it is not surprising that Gemma-as a co-victim with our Saviour-was molested by devils. Craftily-by alluring temptations, by apparitions that resembled our Lord Himself-Gemma was waylaid. Crudely, she was beaten and struck to the floor. Her letters to Father Germanus were intercepted and forgeries substituted, in diabolical attempts to discredit her. 

It would take volumes to describe properly the sublime, refined contemplation of God and His mysteries enjoyed by Gemma. She did not acquire this insight -it was imparted by God, Who also gifted her with those miraculous phenomena of soul and body, such as ecstasy and stigmata. We lack the space even to list those wonders. 

Passionist Nuns 
"Oh that my heart could live and beat and sigh for Jesus only! May the holy Kingdom of His love be spread over the whole earth, that all may love Him!" This aspiration is a formula that well expresses Gemma's life-long ambition. As she herself declared, a career as a Passionist Nun was her ideal, as the means of attaining her heavenly purpose. These Nuns were established by Saint Paul of the Cross the Founder of the Passionist Fathers- an auxiliary to his Community of missionary priests. In the solitude of their cloister the Nuns dedicate their lives to intercession plus atonement, in behalf of a sinful and indifferent world. 

Gemma now applied for admission to the Community, but owing to falsified reports that had been circulated about her the Mother Superior refused. Father Germanus' influence was of no avail. Gemma resigned herself to this disappointment as something temporary, but persevered in her pleading with God and with her superiors on earth. In an endeavor to console Gemma, her brother Anthony made a remark laden with significance: "Never mind -if you want to be a saint, you can be one even outside a convent." 

Gemma's hope of becoming a Passionist Nun was revived, on hearing of plans for a new convent, in Lucca. At this time she wrote to Father Germanus: "It struck me that I ought to ask Venerable Gabriel about the matter. And so I did. 'Shall I become a Passionist?' He replied: 'Yes, you will be a Passionist.' 'But where Corneto?' He said: 'Why do you want to go so far away?' And having blessed me he disappeared." Without delay, Gemma exerted herself to the utmost to further the new project. With Aunt Cecilia she quested for funds, inspected available property, and wrote to persons of influence to enlist their endorsement and co-operation. 

Meanwhile, Gemma received a communication, urgent in its tone, from our Lord, Himself. 
"My child. You will have to communicate important things to your director. I need souls who will console Me. I need victims, but brave victims, who will atone for the neglect of sinners and the ungrateful. My Father is preparing a great chastisement for the human race. Many times I have restrained His just anger by presenting to Him the Daughters of My Passion. My child, write immediately to the Father and tell him to go to Rome, and make known My desire to the Holy 
Father. I assure you that if the desire of My Heart is granted, and a foundation of the Passionist Nuns is made at Lucca, I shall offer them to My Father and His anger will be appeased. Tell him it is the last warning I shall give to all." 

Gemma’s Convent 
Subsequently, Gemma was visited several times by Gabriel, who exhorted her to contend with the many obstacles already intruded by the devil, and to enkindle a courageous confidence in the hearts of all concerned. Before long it was made known to Gemma clearly that this crusade would be successful only at the sacrifice of her cherished ambition-she must die an unprofessed Passionist, and thus merit the Success of the foundation. Once Gemma was certain of God's will in the matter, she was thoroughly content. "I no longer ask to enter the convent, since a better convent awaits me." 

To Aunt Cecilia she said: 
"Jesus has the habit of a Passionist Nun waiting for me at the gates of Paradise." And to her mother's sister: "Alive, they do not want me, but after my death they will be glad to have me!" 
Leo XIII and Gemma died during the same year-1903. A year later, Pius X granted the petition of Father Germanus, and the assurances conveyed by Gemma were verified to the letter. On a Friday of March, 1905, the new convent was opened. Before God and men, the foundation is regarded as Gemma's own. Benedict XV has said of her: "If not by habit and profession, undoubtedly by desire and affection, Gemma is rightly numbered among the religious children of Saint Paul of the Cross." And in 1923, Gemma's body was transferred to -its fitting shrine-at the Passionist Convent. 

"Even Unto Death" 
Having made her act of renunciation, Gemma continued to promote the under¬taking so dear to the Heart of Christ Crucified. She was eager to hasten its success, even at her own expense: "Let me die, so that the Passionist Convent may be established." Soon after Pentecost of 1902, Gemma became seriously ill. Twice she recovered, as a result of heavenly intervention, but in September she was stricken with a malady that was to prove fatal. Her suffering was so intense that her body became skeleton-like in its emaciation. Father Germanus was sent for and Gemma received the Last Sacraments. However, she was to linger until April of 1903-a postponement of her death that she revealed to her director. He had been ordered to return to Rome on urgent business, and Gemma said to him: "If you desire, Father, you may go away. I am not going to die just now. I shall certainly die of this sickness, but not just yet." Father Germanus departed, having blest Gemma for the last time. 

They were never to meet again in this life, but he had Gemma's assurance that she would see to it they met in heaven.The doctors could not agree in their diagnosis of Gemma's illness. Suspicion of tuberculosis predominated among them, and even Father Germanus had endorsed the suggestion that Gemma be isolated. Despite the danger of infection among their family, the Gianninis were loathe that Gemma be exiled. It was not until three months later that a nearby room was rented, to which Gemma was transferred. The solicitude of the family was echoed in the words of Aunt Cecilia: "If she must die, we will take care of her till the last!" During this prolonged trial, Gemma's edification was that of a martyr-she did not ask for so much as a drop of water, by way of relief. In fact, there is but one comparison to make, in any attempt to de­scribe Gemma's passion "even unto death." 

In body and in soul, her affliction was a facsimile of that of the God-Man as He drooped upon the crossbeams, on Cruci­fixion Friday. On Wednesday of Holy Week, Gemma received Viaticum and early on Holy Saturday morning, Extreme Unc­tion. By noon of that day-the 11th of April-she had followed Christ Crucified to the tomb of death-as the church bells began to sound the triumphant notes of Easter joy. Gemma's body was clothed in a somber robe, with the emblem of a Pas­sionist Nun over her heart. Instinctively, no one thought of praying for her, but hundreds came praying to her.

A Degree and a Title
"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints." Her reputation for remarkable sanctity was soon ratified by divine approval. Her influence in Heaven became more and more manifest on earth, as appeals to Gemma were granted by the Lord of health and holiness. Miracu­lous cures were wrought, sinners were res­cued from the brink of eternal ruin. Gemma's fame - at first local - spread throughout Europe, and within ten years had become world-wide.

By 1933, thirty years had elapsed since the death of Gemma. During those three decades, a most searching inquiry was conducted to determine beyond a shadow of doubt that Gemma was deserving of official recognition as a saint. Her letters were studied as well as her autobiography; unimpeachable witnesses were summoned to testify under oath; all of these findings and many others were compared from the viewpoint of consistency. A more ex­haustive investigation is unknown in any court of inquiry on earth. But mere hu­man diligence is not sufficient. Nothing less than a sign from Heaven-not one miracle, but four are insisted upon as a divine certification.

The Church Militant is an army mil­lions strong. No man or woman of the "rank and file" is unimportant. Each and every follower of Christ, provided he be in the state of grace, is holy-healthy of soul and pleasing to God. But one who is awarded a degree in sanctity, must be a hero among his fellows - reliable as a model for imitation. Were the Church to make a mistake in any such case, souls would be thereby misled in faith and morals. Hence, the final decision by the Vicar of Christ, known as canonization, is infallible. There is a preliminary decision, known as beatification, whereby a departed soul is declared to be among the Blessed in Heaven. 

The beatification decree, while solemn, official, and reliable, is not in­tended as infallible; it simply permits the veneration of the one declared Blessed. The canonization decree, however, is di­vinely reliable and commands our venera­tion of the one now awarded the "doctorate in sanctity," with the title of Saint. Prior to beatification, the Church awaits two miracles as divine corroboration of her findings. Among the many miracles attrib­uted to Gemma's intercession the two requisite were duly proven. Gemma was beatified by Pius XI on May 14 1933. Two additional miracles, occurring after beatification, are exacted prior to canoni­zation. These providential concessions have been granted so rapidly in Gemma's case that she is inscribed in the Catalogue of the Saints only thirty-seven years after death. In this Year of Our Lord 1940 Gemma is but sixty-two years of age- contemporary of millions now in the prime of life on earth.

Model and Patron
It is of supreme importance, in any reference to Gemma's miracles, to realize God's own purpose in granting them. Her miracles - whether wrought in her own body and soul during life, or in behalf of others since her 'death-are intended to direct our attention to her virtues. Gemma became a saint, because with the generosity and fidelity of a hero, she lived virtuously. She patterned her thoughts and words her actions and sufferings according to Christ, Who is "the way, the truth, and the life." And in this one respect, each of us without exception can imitate Gemma. It would be a serious mistake and discouraging to regarding Gemma as a saint who lacks practical appeal. To copy the spirit of Saint Gemma need not ambition marvels like the stigmata, nor need we fear them. We need only organize our lives in such a way that the crucifix surmounting the Mass-altar will be for us, as it was for her, the focal point of this world. Circumstances in life differ with individuals, but the weight of our crosses will never balance that of Gemma's. Body and soul, we, too, can "do all things in Him Who strengthens us."

"Nothing succeeds like success." With­in twenty-five years of striving, Gemma merited an eternity of recompense. By the same faith that enlightened her mind, we know God and realize our destiny; by means of the hope that stimulated her heart, we can persevere. The God we serve is the God served by Gemma, from sheer love. We can extend our charity to others-even "to His least brethren," as our young Saint did, for His sake. With­out apologizing to anyone for being pious, we can "render to God the things that are God's," as Gemma did, by fidelity to our Baptismal Vow. We have urgent reason to be humble, for the warning applies to us as well as to "the Gem of Christ"­ 

"Without Me, you can do nothing." By the Spirit Who is God, Gemma was gifted with unearthly prudence: we have been sacramentally confirmed by the same Holy Ghost. Though allergic to temptation from the world, the flesh, and the devil, our self-control is stabilized, for God as­sures us as well as Gemma: "My grace is sufficient for thee!" We need never turn cowardly, for in common with Gemma, we enjoy as a heritage the courage of mar­tyrs. We can pray to God as often as we wish-in the spontaneous, uncompli­cated way that Gemma did. Provided we imitate her, by developing the virtues with which we are graced, the day is bound to come when we too can exult: "He that is mighty hath done great things to me!"

The introduction of a new saint is al­ways timely. In endorsing the veneration of a saint, by miraculous approval, God manifests His desire to emphasize anew the spirit exemplified in a saintly life. Gemma's career is a living refutation of that modern vogue which is proving itself so disastrous-a spirit of insane selfishness, a spirit of indifference to all issues that extend beyond earth and time, and that seeks anesthesia from its disappointment in the intoxication of pleasure.
In Heaven, canonized saints are in the minority; it is God's will that some few be singled out in this way, to encourage us to join the majority-the uncanonized saints of Heaven, and of earth. Gemma has proven to a demonstration that it is feasible to become a saint within the sphere of our Catholic laity. And the secret of her success-despite the handi­caps and distractions of that sphere-was the maintenance of a cloistered heart.

As a patron, Gemma has proven that she is both competent and well disposed. The favors obtained through her interces­sion are beyond count. Despite her penitential spirit, she was ever solicitous for the relief and comfort of others. From life-long experience, she understands suf­fering. Hence it is fitting to regard her as an especial patron of the afflicted. Typical of Gemma's fidelity in charity is a conversion she obtained, seventeen years after her death-that of a renegade who lay sick and destitute in Brazil. His con­version was considered a miracle of grace by those who knew him only too well. The man was Gemma's own brother, Hector.

We who admire Saint Gemma, congratulate her, and to add further to her heavenly joy, we appeal for at least one favor-the grace to catch her spirit, to "seek first the Kingdom of God," to do so by living true to Christ Crucified, that we may deserve, in company with Saint Gemma, to enjoy Him "face to face" throughout a flawless eternity.

Prayer to Jesus Crucified
Sweet Jesus! for how many ages hast Thou hung upon Thy cross, and still men pass Thee by and regard Thee not, except to pierce anew Thy Sacred Heart. How often have I passed Thee by, heedless of Thy great sorrow, Thy many wounds, Thy infinite love! How often have I stood before Thee, not to comfort and console Thee, but to add to Thy sorrow, to deepen Thy wounds, to scorn Thy love! Thou hast stretched forth Thy hands to comfort me, to raise me up, and I have taken those hands that might have struck me into hell and have bent them back on the cross and nailed them there, rigid and helpless. Yet I have but succeeded in engraving my name in Thy palms forever! Thou hast loved me with an infinite love, and I have taken advantage of that love to sin the more against Thee; yet my ingratitude has but pierced Thy Sacred Heart and forth upon me has flowed Thy Precious Blood. Oh sweet Jesus, let Thy blood be upon me, not for a curse, but for a blessing. Lamb of God Who takest away the sins of the world have mercy on me.

Prayer Composed by Saint Gemma
 Behold me, dear Jesus, at Thy most sacred feet, to profess my gratitude for the many and continued favors, which Thou hast bestowed upon me and art still willing to grant me. As often as I called upon Thee, Oh Jesus, You have heard me; I have recourse to Thee frequently and You always console me. How can I ever fully express to Thee my sentiments? I thank Thee! But there is one more favor that I desire, oh my God, if it be pleasing to Thee (make your petitions here). If You were not Omnipotent I would not dare to make this request. Oh Jesus, have pity on me. May Thy most holy will be accomplished in all things.

Prayer From the Mass in Honor of Saint Gemma
Oh God Who hast granted to the holy virgin Gemma, through the assiduous remembrance of the Passion of Thy Son, that her heart be aglow with love; grant to us, through her intercession that, meditating devoutly on the mysteries of Thy Holy Cross, we may merit to attain abundant fruit therefrom. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

1 comment:

Andyleeson said...

What a wonderful little book.Your dedicated website to "The Gem of Christ" St Gemma Galgani,has without doubt played a part in my conversion.Praised be Jesus Christ in His Angels and His Saints.

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