Biography of Saint Gemma Galgani -Part 2

BLESSED GEMMA GALGANI (1878-1903) Part 2 of 2 , by FATHER AMEDEO, C.P. , Translated from the Italian by FATHER OSMUND THORPE, C.P., 1935, Published by Burns, Oates, and Washbourne, London.

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Blessed Gemma Galgani (Part 2 of 2)



Father Gaetano had kept his word. He had told Gemma that he would think over the mysterious things she had communicated and give his opinion of them later on. And he now pronounced his verdict. Moreover, in order to make it easier for Gemma to tell Monsignor Volpi about these things, he came to an understanding with her that he himself should first speak to him about them. Monsignor Volpi welcomed both Father Gaetano and Gemma kindly, listened to them, approved of the action of the extraordinary confessor, approved also of the vows Gemma had taken, but advised her to add another, that is, one of candor with her confessor. As regards the Stigmata, however, he withheld his decision.

Father Gaetano was not content with having spoken to Monsignor Volpi. He wished to see the Stigmata for himself, and to leave a written declaration of what he had seen. As a matter of fact he did leave such a declaration. For this purpose Gemma was taken to the Giannini home by her friend Palmira Valentini and by her little sister Julia. In their presence Father Gaetano told Gemma that he desired to see the Stigmata. She obeyed and Father Gaetano was thus able to examine at his ease the backs and the palms of her hands. Besides, he told Palmira to examine, in her own home, the wound in the side, but she was unable to do this because Gemma would not permit it. After the failure of this attempt at examination and while she was still at Palmira's home, Gemma retired to pray before an image of the Heart of Jesus and fell into an ecstasy. Her sister Julia called her, and receiving no answer burst into tears. Gemma's face was flushed, and her wounds were even more noticeable than in the morning. Later on she came to herself. The Stigmata continued to be visible all that evening.


Another son of St. Paul of the Cross now comes upon the scene, Father Peter Paul Moreschini, who was later Archbishop of Camerino, where he died a holy death in 1919. It was on August 29, 1899, at the Gianninis' that he first heard of Gemma. Father Peter Paul was then the Provincial of the Roman-Tuscan Province of the Passionists.

Cecilia Giannini, although herself convinced that the phenomena associated with Gemma were from God, nevertheless felt she had need of advice in the matter, especially since Monsignor Volpi's hesitation. She therefore spoke to Father Peter Paul. He, however, was not impressed. He considered that Gemma was under a delusion and that Signora Giannini had been carried away by enthusiasm. He had not yet met Gemma. Even when she was introduced to him, it seemed, as he himself confessed, that he had before him merely a stupid girl.

When they were left alone Gemma asked him if he would use his influence to have her received, even as a lay-sister, among the Passionist Nuns at Corneto. He received this request coldly; more, he rejected it with scorn. Gemma rejoiced in this humiliation, and showed that she was not in the least disturbed. This deeply impressed Father Peter Paul, who began to think that she was far from stupid as he had thought. He therefore said to her: , If you want me to interest myself in getting you received by the Passionists, it is necessary that I should first find out whether God really calls you to that life. Tell Jesus to give me two signs that I have asked from Him at this moment.' Gemma prayed. The two signs asked interiorly by Father Peter Paul were that he should see the Stigmata and the sweat of blood.' [Life of Gemma Galgani, by Venerable Father Germano, C.P.]

Those phenomena, as the reader well knows, took place every week from Thursday to Friday. Although it was only Wednesday, God was pleased to answer Gemma's prayer. In the afternoon Gemma went to make the Holy Hour before the big Crucifix in the house. After a little while she went into ecstasy and began to sweat blood copiously. Aunt Cecilia, who was watching, immediately called Father Peter Paul, who could then easily see with his own eyes the phenomenon in the Servant of God. He afterwards withdrew, his heart a prey to a deep emotion. When she recovered, Gemma said to Aunt Cecilia: '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.'

At about five o'clock that same evening two very red marks appeared on the back and on the palm of Gemma's hands, and after five minutes she was again rapt in ecstasy, and the Stigmata were seen impressed on her hands.

Signora Cecilia then called Father Peter Paul, whom she had asked a little while before, that is at the first appearance of the red marks, whether this was not the second sign he had solicited. He, however, had given no answer. Accompanied by the priest, Laurence Agrimonti, he entered the room where Gemma was, and thus assisted at this second phenomenon. 'This is what I saw at that moment,' he wrote afterwards. 'Although her body was deprived of every movement it was most flexible. Her face was like that of a corpse, her hands as it were contracted in the fingers and the middle of the hand, so that on the palms as well as on the backs of the hands I saw actual wounds of this size.' And here Father Peter Paul drew an oval figure about eighteen millimeters in length, and ten in width at the widest point.

Thus a remarkable man was won to Gemma's cause. After being Vice-General of the Passionists, the Apostolic Visitor to at least twelve dioceses in Italy, Pius X, recognizing his holiness, learning, and prudence, appointed him Archbishop of Camerino. He saw Gemma on several other occasions, particularly during the last months of that same year and in 1900 and 1901. He began to study the holy life of the girl more than her supernatural gifts, and was so edified that later on when he was called upon to give evidence in the Processes for the Beatification, his long deposition was a splendid panegyric. But between his first visit and these others, certain things occurred of which we must treat here.


On the following day Father Peter Paul spoke about the matter to Monsignor Volpi, and five days later sent him from Florence an account of what he had seen in Gemma. He wrote:

'I saw with my own eyes the wounds on both sides of her hands and that they were truly torn open. At the end of the ecstasy everything healed up, leaving the scars alone remaining. How could such a wound heal thus instantaneously by natural means? I do not venture to say that it is the work of God but I am inclined to think that it is, for this girl is most humble, obedient, innocent, and a lover, in a particular way, of suffering. All the same I still think that you ought to place her for a short time in a Convent for the reasons I have given you.'

This new attestation united to that of Father Gaetano, far from freeing Monsignor Volpi from the doubts he had in regard to the mysterious phenomena which had manifested themselves in his holy penitent, perplexed him all the more. He felt it to be a very delicate position. He knew Gemma's humility and sincerity better than anyone else. But could she not be the victim of a diabolical illusion? And yet how could Satan rule over such a soul?

Monsignor Volpi, however, must not be blamed for this hesitation. If he had acted precipitately in such an important matter, he would have been lacking in prudence. He himself had seen the Stigmata in Gemma. This fact is mentioned in the Processes by Palmira Valentini :

‘One day Gemma came to my home and I saw that she had the Stigmata. Monsignor Volpi, who was also my spiritual director, had told me that when Gemma had the Stigmata I was to bring her to him. . . . I did not like to go into the presence of Monsignor with Gemma, but he said: " You also come along." And then in my presence also he saw Gemma's Stigmata. They were clearly visible as on other occasions. With an ingenuous simplicity which is more than rare Gemma showed him the Stigmata. Monsignor Volpi, however, said nothing except these words: " Gemma, do not let your hands be seen; keep them covered ; you understand, the children would only laugh at you."‘

Aunt Cecilia had to speak to him frequently after this, in order to get advice as to the way she ought to act with regard to Gemma. According to Cecilia, Monsignor told her to speak to a certain doctor whom he named. She did so. The doctor listened in silence, but gave her no other answer or satisfaction than saying that persons suffering from hysteria could easily manifest those things.

To say that Monsignor Volpi alone was unhappy because of this state of affairs would be a mistake. Because her confessor was in doubt, Gemma was also worried, fearful, as she was, to deceive or be deceived. She felt she owed a great deal to Monsignor Volpi, who since she was a little child had helped her in all her spiritual difficulties, and there-fore the fact that he suffered because of her could not fail to make her suffer also. On his side, without knowing it, he was the cause of great sorrow to Gemma. For he had commanded her to ask God to take away every external manifestation of these extraordinary things, and to lead her henceforth along the common path. This was exactly what Gemma herself desired, and God heard her prayer and granted her request. But God is not obliged to obey His creatures, and after a short time these singular manifestations reappeared. Gemma, mindful of the command she had received, endeavored to reject them. It was a struggle which only a soul on fire with the love of God can really understand. This martyrdom was increased when she heard Monsignor say that if God would not make things clear, he would never believe in her imaginings. 'I have asked Jesus,' she wrote to him, 'to let you understand things, if He is really the cause of these happenings, and to take them away because I don't want them if the devil is the cause. Were my imagination to blame, I would not allow these things to happen any more.' And she prayed to Jesus: ‘If it be You, 0 Jesus, who cause these things, in Thy mercy, make it known. Otherwise we cannot go on thus, neither I, nor my confessor, nor those who know about these things.' [Lettere ed estasi]


To resolve his perplexity Monsignor Volpi decided to submit the phenomena to a scientific investigation. He therefore told Cecilia Giannini that on the following Friday, September 8, the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, he would bring a doctor along with him to examine Gemma. This was the same doctor to whom Cecilia Giannini had already spoken. Cecilia did not tell anyone about Monsignor's intentions.

As the reader will remember, the Giannini family was then living in the country. Nevertheless Chevalier Matthew and a few of the family were in Lucca that day.

At ten o'clock in the morning Gemma was in ecstasy. When it was over, Gemma took a pen and wrote a few lines to Monsignor, telling him that if he wished to come he should come alone, but that he must not bring anyone with him, that Jesus was not pleased and would let him see nothing. She gave the letter open to Aunt Cecilia, who read it, carefully remembering its contents, and then closed it.

Monsignor pursued his intention, and at about two o'clock in the afternoon arrived at the Gianninis' with the doctor in whom he placed such confidence. It must be admitted that this doctor was a very worthy and religious man, and Gemma herself heard Jesus say so when she was in ecstasy. The sentiments of the two visitors were entirely different, however. Monsignor, in doubt, was in search of the truth; the doctor, on the other hand, was hoping to restore the Bishop's peace of mind by proving that it was a case of hysteria. As for Cecilia Giannini, she was so certain of the holy girl that she did not fear any investigation.

An hour before, Gemma had retired into her room and had fallen into ecstasy. Blood was flowing from near her forehead and from the open Stigmata in her hands. Cecilia Giannini, the Chevalier Matthew, his wife Justina, and several others belonging to the family, saw her in this state. Cecilia ran joyfully to tell Monsignor. 'Come, come,' she said, ' now is the very best time.' In the presence of all, the doctor took a towel, dipped it in water and wiped Gemma's hands and forehead. The red-colored stains disappeared, the blood ceased, and not a scar could be seen. Profound disillusionment for all!

As was natural, the doctor rejoiced over his victory. Gemma, on the other hand, all absorbed in the contemplation of the Passion, was asking Jesus for a greater and greater share in His sufferings; and He was preparing for her there and then a chalice of suffering, full to the brim and bitter.

When she came to herself, both Monsignor and the doctor had gone. She had not seen them, but she noticed that a big change had taken place in the attitude of those around her. What a disillusionment for the charitable, pious and generous Giannini family! They thought they had a saint under their roof, and she turns out to be only a sick girl, some-what mad, a deceiver! But no, it could not be so! She was not anything like that. A soul like hers, so sincere, so ingenuous, would be incapable of it! Even a doubt was inadmissible.

To deepen her sorrow, the Lord allowed His servant to see the changed thoughts of those about her. Towards the end of the ecstasy He had revealed to her that the doctor had come and had seen nothing, and that a great cross was awaiting her. What was she to do, hedged in as she was by these unfavorable circumstances? Gemma knew that she was in the hands of God. What then had she to fear? So without anxiety, calmly, she awaited the tempest.

At about four o'clock in the afternoon of that same day, Aunt Cecilia, who herself felt the need of some distraction from these oppressive thoughts, suggested to Gemma that they should go out to Benediction somewhere. Gemma, as usual most obedient, answered: 'Whatever you like.' The following is Cecilia's deposition on what happened on this occasion:

'When we reached the Guinigi tower, Gemma said to me: "Take me to Jesus for a little while?" And I asked her: "Would you like to go to a church?" And I took her to the Church of St. Simon and St. Jude which was not much frequented and where we sat in a corner near one another. For about an hour Gemma, immovable, rigid, with her hands stretched out over her knees, remained gazing at the Tabernacle. I was watching her all the time, with the idea in my mind that if the Stigmata came, I could make certain whether she caused them herself. Then she awakened out of her ecstasy, and said to me: "I should like to tell you something, but I am very much ashamed." . I encouraged her to speak. She said the same thing again, but when I insisted that she should tell me, she raised her hands and letting me see the palms, said: "Look ... "And I really saw blood on the palms, and on the backs of the hands a little wound with drops of fresh blood. Then I thought that I should like Monsignor Volpi to see her in this state, but I had not the courage to bring her to him. myself. However, as we were leaving the church we met Palmira Valentini. . . . I asked her to take Gemma to Monsignor, who was at that time in the Church of the Guardian Angels, where he was giving a retreat to some children in preparation for their first Communion, and to tell him that Gemma wanted to speak to him alone….Gemma spoke alone to Monsignor Volpi, related everything to him and showed him the Stigmata. Monsignor tried to wipe away with a handkerchief the blood which was oozing from the wounds in the hands. Gemma herself told me this.'

Monsignor Volpi, however, declared that Palmira Valentini brought Gemma, not to the Church of the Guardian Angels, but to the management office of the Matthew Cividali Schools which had been founded by him. 'I remember,' he said, ' that when showing me her hands, she was very much confused, and understanding her embarrassment, I did not make a close examination and sent her away. I confess that I had the impression that the fact was not natural, considering that on the following day, as I had been assured, the wound had entirely disappeared.' [The discrepancy is not important, because these places are very near one another]

A little while after Gemma wrote to Monsignor Volpi:

‘Forgive me if I trouble you this morning. If you were to see how many have changed their attitude towards me since that day! It seems to me that I can almost see the thoughts that are passing in the minds of others. Yesterday evening Jesus let me know that many people are thinking evil of me. One thinks that I am a somnambulist, others think 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, and that He will permit even worse things. Nevertheless He has assured me that by means of the Father He will convince my confessor, but that He will permit the other persons to continue in the same frame of mind." [Lettere ed estasi, pp. 109-110]

In another letter she deals with the attempt to examine the phenomena:

‘If you had been alone Jesus would indeed have convinced you. Today when I began to make the exercise of the Three Hours' Agony I understood what had happened to me. Yesterday evening Jesus let me know that you would come, but I did not want you to come because I was ashamed. In the end I conquered myself. At first I felt great repugnance; then Jesus said to me: "Do you not remember that I told you some time ago that a day would come when no one would believe you. That day has come! Oh, how much more acceptable you are to me when you are despised than when everyone regarded you as a saint !" Jesus then told me that there was another person with you, a doctor, and that he saw nothing .... To-day Jesus desired that I should make a sacrifice, and I have willingly done so; let them think that it is hysteria, as the doctor says it is; because they call it that, Jesus loves me all the more. However, He said that in comparison with what I must yet go through this is nothing. Later when Jesus came back He told me that I was to tell you that He would cause the things in such a way that no one would perceive them. Jesus said that He is satisfied that some persons have seen what has taken place but that for the present He wishes no one else to see those things. You will be convinced.' [Lettere ed estasi, p. 110.]


The sight of the Stigmata that evening, and the letters which he received from Gemma, only increased Monsignor Volpi's perplexity. Had he been too hasty in believing the doctor, even though he was a man for whom he had the greatest esteem, or in trusting to what he himself had seen and heard? Later on when these events were but memories, he wrote: 'To-day after some years of experience I am persuaded that such things are permitted by God in order to give mankind a palpable and external proof of an interior and spiritual action which He sometimes produces in privileged souls.'

That same September Father Gaetano arrived at the Gianninis' to take up Gemma's cause once more. He was much moved by the account of what had taken place. However, he was to see these mysterious phenomena again. As a matter of fact he tried the doctor's test and afterwards gave the following account of it to Monsignor Volpi: 'There were actual wounds in her hands; I say actual wounds because they were deep, and although they were washed three or four times by us they did not disappear.'

Father Peter Paul also was able to witness, even frequently, the marvellous things which God accomplished in His servant, and to describe them to Monsignor Volpi, who then asked him to examine Gemma when an occasion offered, and for this purpose gave him every authority. If the depositions of these two priests had influenced Monsignor in Gemma's favour, some experiments made by a priest altogether opposed to her turned him in the other direction, and so he could come to no decision.

The Gianninis' confidence in Gemma was soon restored. Chevalier Matthew indeed deposed: , In the ecstasy that followed, we did not think of repeating the test made by the doctor; seeing also the other wounds, we were convinced that they were really the work of God, and we unhesitatingly accepted Gemma's explanation of the failure of the doctor's test.'

What was the result of what happened on that September 8? Not what Monsignor Volpi had expected, nor what the doctor expected. But one result was an increase of sorrow and humiliation for Gemma. However, this is what usually accompanies extraordinary gifts from God.

At Lourdes after the sixth apparition, Jacomet, the Chief of Police, determined to put an end to what he called a profit-making .comedy. He so intimidated Bernadette's father, that he forbade his daughter to go near the Grotto. A mysterious impulse, however, led her there the following evening. But the vision did not appear. The freethinkers boasted of their victory. 'The Lady is afraid of the Police,' they said. 'So soon as shrewd old Jacomet took a hand in the matter, she decided to get away from the Rock and change her abode.'

So also in Gemma's case, it seemed that when recourse was had to science, the miracle ceased. But science cannot pretend to explain the super- . natural; it can only ascertain facts. But to ascertain the facts in Gemma's case a doctor was not necessary. All that was needed was two good eyes. All that science could infer from an examination of phenomena that did not remain constant but was reproduced at irregular intervals was that, at the time of inspection, certain manifestations were not present-just that and no more.

Nevertheless, we must admire the designs of Divine Providence in all that happened, for to hide from profane eyes the gifts He had bestowed upon Gemma He deigned to work miracles. Notwithstanding the failure of the test there were things that spoke loud in her favour-her serenity, her charity, her calm peace of soul. The perplexity of Monsignor still remained, but as had been revealed to' Gemma, . God would convince him of the truth.



In the letters quoted at length in the preceding chapter, Gemma declares that she had understood from Jesus that her confessor's mind would be set at rest concerning the mysterious things that happened to her, by means of a priest whom she calls the Father. But who exactly was this priest? She already knew that her director would be a Passionist. This she had understood clearly during the mission in the Cathedral at Lucca. 'You will be a daughter of My Passion and a favorite daughter. One of these children of Mine will be a father to you.' These words, which shaped the course of her life henceforward, she had heard deep down in her heart, and she had no doubt about them. They came from Jesus. 'Jesus,' she wrote, 'made Himself felt very strongly within me.'

During the course of this narrative we have met several Passionists, but none of these was to be the spiritual director of. this privileged soul. Each had his appointed mission in favour of the servant of God, but when this was accomplished each withdrew, rejoicing that such a task had been assigned to him.

Monsignor Volpi still hesitated, and Gemma felt herself alone. But one day, as we have seen, he made his intentions clear to her. If Jesus would not enlighten him he would have to consider that all these mysterious things were her own imaginings. What was she to do? She had recourse to prayer.

'I did not lose time,' she wrote in her Autobiography, ' and that same day I made a special prayer to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. . . . I felt internally recollected and suddenly I was rapt out of my senses. I found I was before Jesus, but He was not alone. Near Him there was a man with white hair, somewhat stout, and from his habit I knew that he was a Passionist priest, and he was praying very earnestly with hands joined. I looked at him, and Jesus said these words to me: " Daughter, do you know him?" I answered-" no "-as was true. "That priest," He continued, "will be your director, and it is he who will recognize in you, a miserable creature, the work of My infinite Mercy."’

In the first letter she wrote to her new spiritual director, she told him of his appointment to that office:

‘A little while back a thought struck me to ask Jesus to let me see you. He did not satisfy me immediately, but after a few days, it seemed to me that while I was praying I saw a Passionist who also was praying before the Blessed Sacrament, and Jesus said to me: " See who Father Germanus is ?" I looked at him, and do you know how I saw him? He was somewhat heavily built, and was on his knees, very steady, with hands joined, and it seemed to me that his hair was more white than black.'

This description corresponded exactly with that of a man whose name she had heard in ecstasy, Father Germanus of St. Stanislaus. At that time she did not know him. Perhaps she had seen his name on the title page of the Life of St. Gabriel she had read. Besides, according to what Father Germanus said afterwards, it seems that he was not yet known to Monsignor Volpi.

Gemma certainly spoke of the matter to Monsignor, for without his consent she would never enter into relations with anybody. This wise prelate, being far from decided in his mind about Gemma, had divided his responsibility, and had sent his holy penitent, now to one confessor, now to another, in the hope of finding help in the direction of this soul that was so dear to him. He did this because his many occupations, and above all his humility, had made him consider that the burden of direction was too heavy for him.

When therefore he heard from Gemma of Father Germanus, he should not have found it difficult to secure information about him, either from the Gianninis or from the Passionists themselves, with one of whom he had already conferred several times. At all events Monsignor agreed in the end to get into touch with Father Germanus, and allowed Gemma to write to him.

Her first letter, a long one consisting of twelve pages, dated January 29, 1900, was written with that sincerity and candor which characterized everything she did. She mentions the permission she had received, her cure through the intercession of St. Gabriel, her vocation, and the future foundation of the Passionist Nuns in Lucca. This letter reached Father Germanus together with another from Cecilia Giannini in which she asked him to give Gemma's letter every consideration. A few days later he received another letter from Gemma in which she said candidly that Jesus had spoken to her: ' My daughter, write to the Father,' this was the message she received, ' and tell him that your confessor is willing to get into touch with him. Let him do so, because this is My desire .... This is My will that your confessor refer everything to the Father henceforward.'

Monsignor Volpi, being in Rome about this time, endeavored to meet Father Germanus, but failed. He therefore wrote to him. Cecilia Giannini was more fortunate, and was able to meet him in Rome and speak to him about Gemma.

At all events the letters of Father Germanus did not at first evince much enthusiasm for Gemma, nor did they reassure Monsignor Volpi. 'On principle, and because of a long experience in the ministry, I find it difficult to give credence to extraordinary things in women,' Father Germanus declared in the Processes, and therefore he advised Monsignor to pay no attention to them and to make his penitent follow the common path. Later on he suggested to him that he should forbid her formally to watch at night, or to practise austerities or to give herself up to contemplative thoughts, and that he should command her to avoid everything out of the ordinary and to occupy herself assiduously in suitable but distracting work. Father Germanus even went so far in his opposition to Gemma as to advise Monsignor to exorcise his penitent.

Realizing that this correspondence was achieving no result, Monsignor Volpi asked the Father Provincial to send Father Germanus to Lucca in order to examine Gemma. In the beginning of September Father Germanus arrived at the Gianninis'. It is easy to see that his sentiments in regard to Gemma were not unlike those which animated the doctor who made his famous experiment a year before. Nevertheless as God had won over Father Peter Paul to Gemma's cause, so also in that same place He would win over Father Germanus.

As soon as she saw him Gemma recognized him and rejoiced, for she immediately recognized him as the one whom she had seen in ecstasy. On his side Father Germanus experienced a sentiment of veneration towards her which he could not explain. They retired to pray before the big family Crucifix, and they both wept, but nothing further happened then. That evening during supper-it was a 'Thursday-Gemma, feeling the ecstasy coming on, got up from table and retired to her room. In a little while she was in ecstasy.


Here we think it best to give Father Germanus's account of what happened by quoting from his biography of Gemma:

‘Her adopted mother [Cecilia Giannini] came to call me. I followed her and found the maiden in ecstasy. The subject of the ecstasy was the conversion of a sinner, and the form was a struggle between her and the Divine Justice to obtain this conversion. I confess that I never beheld anything more affecting. Gemma was sitting on her bed with her eyes, face and all her person turned towards 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. She began by saying: " As You art here, Jesus, I renew my supplications for my sinner. He is Thy child and my brother; save him, Jesus"; and she named him. He was a stranger whom she had known in Lucca, and moved by spiritual impulse she had already warned him a number of times by word of mouth and by letter to listen to the dictates of his conscience and not be contented with the mere reputation of being a good Christian. Jesus, seeming disposed to deal as a just Judge with this man, remained unmoved by her entreaties. But Gemma was not deterred by these refusals and continued: "Why to-day do You not grant my request? For one soul only You have done so much! Why then will You not save this one? Save him, 0 Jesus, save him! ... Be good, Jesus. Do not say that to me. In Thy mouth, You who art Mercy itself, that word, ' abandon,' sounds badly; You must not say it. You have not measured the blood You have shed for sinners, and now do You wish to measure the enormity of our sins? . . . Will You not give in? To whom then shall I turn? You have shed Thy Blood for him as well as for me. Will You save me and not him? I will not rise from here until You save him; promise me that You will save him. I offer myself victim for all, but particularly for him. I promise not to refuse Thee anything. Will You not grant my request? Remember, 0 Jesus, a soul is at stake! A soul, Jesus, that cost Thee so much. He will become good and will not fall again."

‘In answer to all her pleading the Saviour put forward the claims of Divine Justice. She, however, grew still more earnest, and replied: " I am not seeking Thy justice; I am imploring Thy Mercy. My Jesus, go and find this poor sinner; make him repent." And here to prove to Gemma what reason He had for remaining firm, Our Lord began to show her one by one, with the most minute circumstances of time and place, the evil deeds of that sinner, adding that he had filled up their measure. The poor girl showed her dismay; she let her hands fall down and sighed deeply, as if she had lost hope of succeeding. But recovering quickly from the shock, she returned to the attack. "I know, 0 Jesus," she said, "I know it; that he has offended Thee thus grievously; but I have done worse and yet You have shown me Mercy .... What immense Charity, 0 Jesus, have You not lavished upon me! Treat my sinner, I implore of Thee, with those delicacies of infinite Love with which You have treated me. Remember, 0 Jesus, that I want him to be saved. Triumph, triumph! I ask this of Thee; oh, do not refuse me."

In spite of all these efforts, Our Lord remained inflexible, and Gemma, again becoming downhearted and discouraged, remained silent as if she had abandoned the struggle. Then of a sudden another motive flashed to her mind-a motive that seemed invincible against all resistance. Again becoming all animated she spoke thus: " Well, I am a sinner; You Thyself have told me so; that worse than me You couldst not find. Yes, I confess it, I am unworthy that You should listen to me ; yet I present to Thee another advocate for my sinner; it is Thine own Mother who asks Thee to forgive him. Canst You say 'no' to Thy Mother? Surely You canst not say' no' to her. Answer me now, 0 Jesus; say that You have saved my sinner." The victory was gained, the whole scene changed its aspect, the merciful Savior had granted the grace, and Gemma, with a look of indescribable joy, exclaimed: " He is saved, he is saved! Jesus, You have conquered; triumph always thus." Then she came out of her ecstasy.'

Gemma had indeed prayed earnestly for her sinner! But her charity was to have its reward, not only in the triumph of Divine Mercy, but also by the changing of Father Germanus's mind in her favour.

When the ecstasy was over and Father Germanus, a. prey to the deepest emotion, retired to his room, there was a knock at his door. 'Father, a gentleman has called and wishes to see you.' A man entered and weeping threw himself at the priest's feet. 'Father, hear my confession ... ' He was Gemma's sinner. Father Germanus heard his confession, the man accusing himself of all the sins that were mentioned in the ecstasy, except one which he had forgotten and which Father Germanus recalled to his mind, telling him at the same time what had happened. The man willingly gave Father Germanus permission to publish these wonders of the Lord, and after embracing one another they parted. 'The devil is able to drag sinners to perdition,' said Father Germanus in concluding his account of these incidents, ' but not to convert them.' And with these words he declared himself conquered.


But Father Germanus was not so completely conquered that he could rest satisfied with mere wonder and approval. He had come to make an examination, and he determined to do it thoroughly. 'I began my studies with great earnestness,' he said, ' in order to make certain of Gemma's spirit. These studies lasted nearly three years without interruption. Guided by ascetical and mystical Theology and by modern physiological science I put her through a long trial so as to be able to say in the end that I had not neglected any means of ascertaining the truth, and I can say that none of my tests failed. The Bishop, her confessor, in his turn, was satisfied; . he approved of all that I had done, and expressed his desire that I should take up the direction of Gemma.'

As the first words of Jesus to Gemma were verified, so also these other words would be verified: 'It is he who will recognize in you, a miserable creature, the work of My infinite Mercy.' Father Germanus did indeed recognize the work of God, and on September 6, 1900, he wrote to Monsignor these precise words: 'Gemma is a true gem of the Sacred Heart of Jesus; there is not the slightest possible doubt about it. I do not know anything about the past, but to-day she is pure gold.' And on. March 4, 1901, he wrote:

‘With regard to hysteria, inasmuch as Jesus is so good and lovable, do not think of it, for that would be to become absurd. No, no, there is not a trace of it in her. Modern medical men, even Catholic medical men, are as it were set in their ideas on this point. If you desire to judge exactly concerning the external facts connected with Gemma, you must not take one or two separately, but all of them together, and then you will find that there is a marvelous agreement between them, binding them into a perfect uniformity. On the other hand, hysteria has for substantial form, fickleness, inconstancy, light-headedness, futility, eccentricity, irresoluteness, etc., because hysteria is a symptom of insanity; and whoever is mentally unbalanced, is never consistent.'

Here are some further extracts from Father Germanus's letters to Monsignor Volpi, and it is clear from them that from September, 1900, Father Germanus was indeed Gemma's spiritual director.

‘Your Excellency knows and understands better than I do, the present state of this maiden who has been under your care for so long. I t seems to me that I am rash in interfering in the matter at all. But I shall take the liberty of saying that, as things stand at present, it would be better to proceed with greater ease and quietness, avoiding everything that could in any way impede or restrict the operation of her spirit. God will see to the rest. You must, indeed, demand of her absolute obedience and detachment, but when it is clear that she has done her duty, it is better to leave her to the guidance of the Spirit of God.'

In another letter he wrote :

‘God has confided this soul to you and not to others. Do not think of having recourse to doctors, for, though you think that by doing so you will please Jesus, the consequences, as I am able to see them by the light which God gives me, will be most harmful to the spirit of Gemma and to your Excellency. God is working miracles to keep these things hidden. In the midst of a numerous family, these marvels are occurring unnoticed, and shall we broadcast them? . . . Besides, why make these things known? That which is taking place in Gemma, is going on unknown to outsiders; why not leave them hidden as they are? But you say you are doubtful. Can it be possible that you are still doubtful? If so, then go and see with your own eyes. The best way to come to a decision about Gemma is to observe her interior spiritual life. I am not putting the external facts aside, but what will strike everyone is her simplicity, her profound humility, her detachment, her union with God and her trust in Him, her evenness of temperament, her desire of suffering, her forgetfulness of self and her childlike candor in the midst of such extraordinary things.'

'My dear Monsignor, Gemma at present requires just a little direction. Too much preoccupation about, too much worry over her, is out of place. What is wanted is calm, tranquil direction. . . . I believe this is the principle that should guide us: Gemma should be hidden from Gemma, the direction of her spirit should be simple, without any coercion, in such a way that she may never perceive that anyone in the world is interested in her or her gifts.'

It was with the same assurance that he wrote to Gemma's adopted mother:

‘With regard to this dear soul, be easy in your mind; it is now proved that what is happening is the work of God, and He will complete this work in spite of ignorance and all the passions of men and all the rage of the demons. On our part we ought to be patient in bearing contradictions, and prudent in avoiding them when that is possible. In the meantime you can rejoice that God has chosen you to be the guardian of a soul so dear to Him. He will reward you generously.'

Thus this man fulfilled his mission-this man who had been chosen by God to help Gemma along the road to perfection; and we say mission advisedly, because it was such indeed. Gemma herself made this clear in a letter she wrote to Father Germanus in May, 1901.

‘I hasten to give you a message from Jesus. As far as I can see, it is very important, and I hope that you will take it to heart. They are certain words that I cannot understand at all. Nay, even this morning when I asked Jesus to explain them a little to me, He answered: " Let it be your sole care to communicate this message as soon as possible. Do not enquire further." These are the words: "Tell the Father that it is now quite some time since I placed an important work in his hands, in order that he may do his best to bring the work to completion. What this important task, this great work is, he already knows, and he should devote himself wholeheartedly to it. I put everything in his hands. Let him ask for an explanation after Communion, and I shall give it to him."’

The work of which there is question was none other than the sanctification of Gemma's soul. Father Germanus undertook this work with great earnestness and carried it to a happy conclusion. In his biography of Gemma he wrote:

'Pleasant indeed was the task of guiding this favored soul, so detached in mind and heart from everything earthly, and particularly from herself. She was humble, docile, lovable, ready for every sacrifice, full of faith and love of 'God, and at the . same time so natural that you would scarcely have distinguished her from any ordinary young girl. I must not stop here to describe all the rare qualities of my spiritual child. . . . I shall say only this, that to have dealings with her, to labour in helping her to advance in perfection, and to correspond with the impulses of Divine grace, caused me no weariness, but rather intense satisfaction. One could have spoken to her for many hours on heavenly things, oblivious of the passage of time. She spoke little, even to her director, and seemed to find a difficulty in answering the questions I put to her. Nevertheless, what she said was so much to the point, so sensible, so full of unction that it was a pleasure to listen to her.'

Naturally, considering the distance that separated Gemma from Father Germanus, the greater part of this direction was accomplished by letter. But this was another admirable design of Divine Providence, for these letters, at least a number of them, were published together with extracts from her ecstasies 'in one volume, and constitute what the Civilita Cattolica called 'a treasure of heavenly wisdom-a marvelous and captivating volume, full of solid doctrine, the most efficacious asceticism, and the highest mysticism.' [La Civilita Cattolica, 1909, Vol. II, p. 727; La Ciencia Tomista, VI, n. 31, p. 122.]

Gemma was most grateful not only to God for having given her such a helper, but also to Father Germanus himself. She was most devoted to him, treating him with the greatest reverence and respect, and with the ingenuousness of a child called him Babbo, although he, in pursuance of his principle to keep Gemma hidden from Gemma, treated her with just ordinary courtesy. 'Father Germanus told me several times,' said Cecilia Giannini, ' that Gemma had gone to Heaven with her baptismal innocence unsullied. But while she was alive, although he had a great esteem for her, he never let it be seen; on the contrary, he used to scold her.' And Gemma herself wrote to him:

'Infinite thanks for all the care you have taken an d will take of my poor soul. I hope that by now you have come to understand me well and that you will be able to do me some good. Pray to Jesus for me, that He may enlighten you about me and then convert me. Will you ever succeed in converting me? I find it hard to weep at any time, and when your last letter made me think of this, I wept, and I always weep when I think of it. Live, Jesus! If you succeed in saving my soul for me, you will see what I shall do for you in return-what I shall do for you when I go to Heaven. I shall pull you in after me at all costs.' [Un fiore di Passione nella Citta del Volto Santo, p. 172.]

In a note to this letter in Lettere ed estasi, Father Germanus writes: 'In this hope I live. In the midst of the labors of this present life, these words are always a consolation to me.'

On the other hand, Gemma had a great esteem for Father Germanus. According to a witness in the Processes, she used to say that her extraordinary confessor was a saint. Now that she has been declared Blessed these words of hers assume a new importance, and make one think more highly of him who was chosen by God to guide this privileged soul. He died on December 11, 1909, at fifty-nine years of age, leaving behind him a reputation for learning-his many published works provide ample proof of his learning-and an even greater reputation for virtue, a fact which made him beloved not only by his religious brethren but by all who came into contact with him. Before his death he had the great consolation of giving evidence about his spiritual child at the Ordinary Processes held at Lucca, and of seeing his Life of Gemma Galgani received everywhere with enthusiasm, and reach a third edition in two years.

'Against this direction,' Sister Gesualda well remarks, 'Hell itself was let loose, and all the poisonous influence of men was hurled, but what does it matter? From all eternity God has chosen a guide for each soul, and the Will of God will triumph over every obstacle. Father Germanus was the guide chosen by God for Gemma, and in spite of men and devils, such he remained." [1 Lettere ed estasi, p. 75]


Perhaps more than one reader, even before reaching this point in the story of Blessed Gemma, will have asked himself why God should have bestowed His favors upon this humble and confiding soul, in such a manner and in such profusion, that, to borrow the language of Father Schryvers, it would seem as if He feared that there would not be sufficient time to complete here below the work of His love.' “ [L'amico divino, G. Schryvers Marietti, Torino-Roma, 1929, p. 10.]

God is free to give His gifts to whomsoever He desires, to one more and to another less, and no one has the right to demand the reason of His actions, because He is doing no wrong to anyone. Nevertheless, if we search for a reason for this preference we shall find it in these beautiful words of St. Bernard : ' Cum sit candor, delectatur candidis ,that being candor itself, He takes His delight in souls possessing this virtue, and according to the same holy Doctor, candor of soul means a certain simplicity embracing all the virtues, and resulting from childlike faith, firm hope, innocence of life, humility, and a pure and perfect love. [St. Bernard, Super Cantic., Sermo. 71]

Simplicity was the most characteristic virtue of the humble servant of God. It was the spirit, the soul of her every thought, word and action. Like her great contemporary, St. Therese of Lisieux, she understood marvelously well the Gospel warning : ‘Unless you become as little children, you shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.' The Promoter General of the Faith, during the discussion on the heroic nature of her virtues, recognized this resemblance with St. Therese. 'What awakens admiration in the life of Gemma,' he said, ' is (among other things) her truly childlike ingenuousness, similar to that which was seen to shine forth so brightly in St. Therese of the Child Jesus.' And the Car-melite, Sister Gesualda, has shown that the way of Therese of Lisieux and the way of Gemma of Lucca are in substance the same-a way of confidence and of loving abandonment. While St. Therese fulfils her mission of pointing out to souls the 'little way,' Gemma shows us that the' little way' is not incompatible with the most extraordinary favors which God sometimes bestows upon the Saints. Gemma is a child resting in the arms of God, and whilst she lies abandoned upon His Heart in a sweet and peaceful sleep of love He showers His gifts upon her,

Gemma's simplicity appeared in all she did, enhancing all her actions, and making her lovable and dear. She was simple in thought, in her manner of speaking, in her manner of acting .. According to Father Germanus this beautiful quality accompanied her also to the sublime heights of mysticism. She set out upon this journey, a child in spirit as a child in age, and she never changed. She treated with the majesty of God in a childlike way, listened to His ineffable secrets, tasted His sweetness. The ease, the naturalness, the spontaneity with which she acted in the midst of the most extraordinary phenomena, constitutes one of the best proofs of the soundness of her spirit. By choosing here and there from her writings and from the Processes, we shall be able to convey some idea of her simplicity, and also some idea of the other virtues which, according to St. Bernard, proceed from this simplicity, and the perfume of which so delights the Spouse of souls: 'candore et odore virtutum delectatur.'

All witnesses spoke of this simplicity in the servant of God. Monsignor Volpi said:

'Her ingenuousness and simplicity were extraordinary, so much so that I hold she was absolutely incapable of pretending or deceiving, and that if this had not been the case, it would have been easy, considering the circumstances of place and dwelling, to discover any deception. I never noticed in her the least artificiality, and she performed everything so simply and naturally as to manifest all the candor of her soul; and I am convinced that the Servant of God was truly an elect soul and maintained a special, intimate and constant union with God. . . . I never noticed in her anything superstitious or exaggerated in the practice of religion, or in the exercise of piety, nor any ostentation or levity of mind. On the contrary she was very simple, although her demeanor was always devout and recollected.'

Brother Famiano deposed: ' She was like a child. Once she even asked me to accompany her to the mission at S. Concordia, and when I remarked that being a religious it was not the proper thing for me to do, she answered: " a wretched human respect! " , And because, as we have said, she thought that the extraordinary phenomena that happened to her were common to all souls who had consecrated themselves to God, she said one day to the same Brother Famiano that she had seen the Blessed Virgin of Sorrows, and asked him whether he had seen her also. It was the same simplicity which made her, during her stay with the' Mantellate' Nuns, speak of her soul and of the. things which happened to her to any religious she met. When, however, the Mother Superior told Monsignor of this, he commanded Gemma to mention these things to no one except the Mother Superior, and Gemma as usual obeyed. This ingenuous trust in others recalls the question she once asked Sister Julia Sestini, at the time when the Stigmata and the other sorrows of the Passion began. 'She asked me,' said Sister Julia Sestini, 'whether spouses of Jesus could have other signs of the Passion besides the wound in the heart.'

Her dear friend, Palmira Valentini, fully agrees with Brother Famiano and says: 'She was always so simple that she appeared to be a child.' And Signora Carola Puccinelli declared: 'I noticed in this child all the virtues, and simplicity especially.'

This virtue, as we have shown, accompanied her always, even in her supernatural manifestations. When the force of the Divine love within her caused two ribs over her heart to bulge out somewhat, this is how she explained the matter to Aunt Cecilia: , I don't know just what to make of it, but here in this spot a bone has come out.'

‘In speaking,' Mother Gemma Giannini declared, 'she never pretended to know and understand spiritual things better than others.' And this is exactly what Cecilia Giannini deposed: 'She never played the teacher; she spoke on edifying subjects, but without any display of knowledge or ostentation.'

We have mentioned her self-possession, and the absence in her of artificiality. 'When the ecstasy ceased,' says Father Germanus, 'she got up as if nothing had happened, washed her hands of the blood-stains-the blood had flowed copiously pulled down her sleeves so as to cover the large scars, and then believing that no one had noticed her, soon began to talk calmly to members of the household.'

But Gemma's ingenuousness nowhere shines so marvelously as in her writings. She had been to confession, and her confessor had counselled her to live as if she were dead, and this is how she told Father Germanus about it:

'. . . From four o'clock to-day I am dead, Father. My confessor has told me that I must be dead. And do you know why? I was lamenting, now about one thing, now about another. My confessor listened to me for a little while, and then the only obedience he gave me was this: " You ought to live as if you were dead." I must speak no more, nor manifest my desires; I am dead, Father.' [This and other quotations are taken from “Lettere ed estasi”]

A Roman lady, a friend of hers, had asked her to pray to St. Rita of Cascia and St. Frances of Rome for her. This was her answer:

‘In that letter which you sent to me a few days ago, you asked me to pray for you to St. Rita of Cascia and to St. Frances of Rome, but how can I do that when I do not even know them? Do you know what I thought of doing? I have entrusted the matter to Confrater Gabriel by means of a letter addressed to him which I gave to my Guardian Angel, but an answer has not come back yet. . . . I am expecting an answer every day, and when it comes, if I am allowed I shall write to you again immediately.'

The same lady was to pay a visit to the Tomb of St. Gabriel, and Gemma, hearing of it, wrote thus to her:

‘I should like to send a message to Venerable Gabriel. Will you, my sister, carry it to him for me? Say this to him: "Gemma wants you to pray to Jesus very earnestly for her, so that she will be satisfied with everything that happens simply because He wills it to happen. If He wills things to be remedied, let Him remedy them. If He does not, she will then know that He had so ordered things . . ." Put thus, it suffices. Jesus will understand what I mean. Much more so, if our dear Gabriel speaks to Him about it. When you speak to him use the polite " voi " because the Father does not wish the more familiar " tu " to be used.'

Father Germanus had indeed told her to use , voi' in her conversations with the Angels and Saints.

Though at times Father Germanus received letters from her which were taxed because there were no stamps on them, he could not be displeased because they were accompanied by such childlike and ingenuous phrases as these: 'I could write all this because I am alone in the house to-day. As I have no money, I am putting this letter in the box without a stamp. My dear Father, you will pay for it, won't you? Do not be displeased, please, I am very, very poor.'

Later on in this chapter we shall treat of the rare mortification of Gemma; but we wish to mention here the pleasing simplicity with which she asked her spiritual director for permission to beg of Jesus the grace of being deprived of all sense of taste :

‘It is some time since I began to think that Jesus was inspiring me to ask of Him a certain grace. I shall do what you say; but I believe you will see that there will be no harm in permitting me to make the request. I feel sure that you will have many objections to put forward; such as, that I have grown thin, that it is not necessary; but they have no weight. Listen; do you agree that I ask Jesus to grant me the grace never again to experience any taste in any food? Father, this grace is necessary for me. I hope Jesus will tell you to grant it to me. However it be I shall be satisfied. '

Her Guardian Angel asked her for a proof of her love for Jesus, and this is how she sought from Father Germanus an explanation of what this meant: , Yesterday at the end of my meditation, I was making as usual resolutions to love Jesus with all my heart. "Well then," said my Angel, " we shall soon see whether you will prove your resolutions." I told this to my confessor, but even he does not know to what he referred. Please tell me if you know.'

And here is another example of her pleasing simplicity in speaking of sublime things. 'On Friday my confessor asked me some questions about the mystery of the most Holy Trinity. I was very much confused. But how well Jesus knew how to whisper in my ear! We were lost in wonder, humiliating ourselves before the great majesty of God.'

The reasons she gives for the love God bestows upon her make even more manifest her inimitable ingenuousness. She speaks as an orphan child might speak. 'He loves me; He loves me very much. He loves me because I have neither father nor mother; He loves me because I am a poor creature, and, finally, He loves me because I am so wicked, and in His sight the wicked are more welcome than the good.' The reader will easily understand in what sense these last words must be taken.


But this ingenuous child reposing at peace in the arms of her heavenly Father was yet a prey to fear. She was afraid of deceiving or of being deceived. Not that she feared she had given occasion for such deception. She feared because others were afraid. , I doubt because the others doubt,' she said in an ecstasy to Jesus. 'If it be really You, Jesus, do please make Thyself clearly known. . . . We cannot go on this way, neither I nor the confessor.'

To find peace of mind she opened up her difficulties to her director. We shall choose a few extracts here and there. 'Father, I am afraid, very much afraid of losing my soul, because yesterday

I heard a priest who came to see the mother relate that there was a nun who had marks in her hands, her feet, her head and heart, and who used to go into ecstasy, and that it was all a deception. Can it be, Father, that I am a deceiver? If I am a deceiver I shall go to Hell. I should like you to explain to me what a deceiver is, because I do not want to deceive anyone.' And when he was paying a visit to the Tomb of St. Gabriel, she wrote to him: ' Act like this: Go to his tomb, to his body, and order him thus through obedience: " Tell me what I am to do about Gemma?" And then when you come back you will write and tell me what he said, won't you ?' On another occasion in similar circumstances, she wrote: ' The first thing you ought to do, Father, is to place in his hands (St. Gabriel's) the important affair of my salvation; ask him whether I have any hope of being saved, and not. to allow me to be deceived, nor allow my director to be deceived in guiding me in the present manner.'

These fears sometimes caused her extreme torment. She wrote:

'This morning I was awake very early. Suddenly a multitude of thoughts such as these began to assail me : " And if I was deceived ?if all the things that happen to me would but lead me to ruin-if my director was deceived? " And this struggle lasted until, do you know what hour, Father? Until five o'clock. I do not know where Jesus was; He did not speak even half a word to me. In the end He showed a little compassion, and withdrawing my senses somewhat made me hear these words: "My daughter, do not fear. It is I who am working in you. I shall never abandon you; live in peace of mind." Father, ask Jesus whether it was He or another who spoke these words.'

Dear Gemma, your very fears constitute the best argument for the sincerity of your spirit and the authenticity of your virtues!


Here will be quoted in part at least some of the colloquies which Gemma held with Jesus while she was in ecstasy, in order to show with what childlike simplicity she associated with Him :

‘Stay and listen, Jesus. Now I know that it is really You. If it had been my imagination I should not have wanted it any longer; I should want to die. Listen, You have always told me that You wouldst give me any grace whatever, and I have told Thee that I want this grace. Yes, and after this grace I want many other graces. If You grant me this one, You will also grant me the others. Now listen, if You do not grant me what I now ask I will no longer answer when You call me. Art You inclined to call me! If it is You, then do me this favour, will You not? Otherwise, when You call me, I shall not pay attention. I'll be deaf to the calling. If it be You, Jesus, You will not lie; but if it is You, then grant me what I ask. I believe that it is You, but do You not know that there are others who do not think so? I am not upset about it, You know. I am better so. They do not believe that it is You; they think that I am mad. But I am not a bit mad, isn't this so, Jesus? Are things to remain in this way? See to it that they don't torment me any more. But, 0 Jesus, it is for sufferings only that I should ask. However, grant me this favour, and then You will see . how I shall want to please Thee .... '

Perhaps someone will say that such familiarity is excessive. But with the author of the Imitation of Christ, we can call this familiarity between Jesus and the soul inebriated with His love, by no other name than sublime, marvelous, 'familiarities stupenda nimis." [Imitation of Christ, Book I, Chap. I, v. 6.]


The first-fruit of this simplicity was a spirit of obedience truly heroic. We have quoted incidents here and there which showed clearly how Gemma exercised this virtue. We shall now give a few more instances, and by quoting her own words allow her to reveal with inimitable candor her own beautiful heart.

As formerly in her own home, so now in the Giannini household, always and everywhere, she allowed herself to be guided by obedience, just as if she was an automaton. 'She was very simple,' deposed Monsignor Volpi, 'and never discussed what she was told to do, or the advice that was given to her.' And the obedience of this simple soul was so pleasing to God, that He desired it be preserved even during the supernatural manifestations. A mental command only, even a mental desire of her director, of her confessor, of her adopted mother, was enough to recall her from ecstasy. When she was in bed at the voice of obedience she closed her eyes and went to sleep, and then at the voice of obedience awakened again.

From certain inner emotions she sometimes knew the good or the bad state of the people who were near her. Both her confessor and her director told her not to pay attention to these feelings. She wrote to Father Germanus: 'With regard to the matter I wrote to you about, that is, my divining the state of people around me, do not mention it to me again; I no longer think about it. My heart continues to be glad or to be sorrowful, but I pay no attention to it now, and when it happens, I try to distract myself.' Sometimes she knew when letters from Father Germanus were to arrive, or when other persons-as Monsignor Tei, Bishop of Pesaro, deposed-were to come to the house. Father Germanus took occasion from this to mortify her, and she replied: 'I shall make sure never again to do what I have done nor to say what I have said.' And in another letter: 'I have overcome myself. This morning early, before Holy Communion, I had an inspiration, and I knew that one of your letters was to come this morning. I suffered a little from my desire to speak about it, but I repressed myself and remained silent. That is good, is it not ? '

The familiarity shown in her relations with Heaven appeared excessive to Father Germanus, and he instructed her to use 'voi ' instead of 'tu ' in her talks with Jesus and the Angels and Saints. She obeyed, but the habit she had acquired and this interference with her natural simplicity betrayed her, so that she would humble and correct herself even in her ecstasies. Nevertheless, she could write to her director: 'To the Angels I no longer say "tu " ; always "voi " from to-day.' Gemma, however, experienced great difficulty in carrying out this direction, and she complained of it to Jesus, who was pleased to free her from this embarrassment. She wrote to Father Germanus :

'Father, please listen. Babbo, you are no longer in agreement with Jesus even. Several times you have told me that I must not say " tu " to Jesus, and that I was not to treat Him so confidentially. But yesterday morning Jesus said to me: "Look, my child, when I show Myself somewhat cold with people, it is because they have not all that confidence in Me that I desire. Whoever omits to treat Jesus with confidence, wrongs His Goodness which has been shown to us so many times and in so many different ways." Besides, it seems to me, Father, that when we have great confidence in Jesus, we are, as it were, doing Him a sweet violence that will compel Him to pour out His graces upon us. Is this true? '

Father Germanus declared himself conquered by these arguments, and allowed her to express herself as her heart suggested when speaking with Jesus, the Blessed Virgin and the Angels and Saints.

On another occasion Father Germanus told her that she was not to put so much trust in the frequency of the visits of her Guardian Angel. This is how she wrote of one of these visits :

‘I have obeyed, you know, with the Angel You know it already, don't you, that for two days I had short visits from my dear Angel. Oh, Father, what was I to do? He came unexpectedly. On seeing him I was rather troubled; I began to be a bit afraid and said : " If You art sent by God, come, I will receive thee; if You art sent by the Devil, I will spit in thy face." Then he smiled and adored the Majesty of God, afterwards making a salutation to the most Holy Trinity. Father, help me always, I wish to obey; I dread lest through my fault Jesus should have to take away His grace from me.'

With reference to another visit from her Angel she wrote again to Father Germanus:

'Do you know, Father, that on Friday evening, that holy Angel made me uneasy. I did not want him at all, and he wished to say so many things to me. Hardly had he arrived when he said: "God bless thee, 0 soul confided to my care." Imagine, Father! I answered him in this way: "0 holy Angel, please listen. Do not soil your hands with me; go away; go to another soul that knows how to make use of the gifts of God. I do not know how to do so." In short, I made him understand. But he replied: "Of what art You afraid? " "Of disobeying," I answered. He then said: "That will not be the case when your Father sends me." Then I allowed him to speak, but I did not make much of him.'

The Angel, however, was not offended at her disregarding him, because her attitude was inspired by her candor of soul. The Angel took occasion from it to inculcate increased devotion to the exercise of obedience: '0 child, what a different world it would be if everyone was obedient. Tell me, who was the first to be obedient? Thy Mom. Oh, how more perfect than thy obedience was the obedience of Jesus! . . . Do You desire help to practise obedience perfectly and with merit? Be obedient always out of love for Jesus.'

Blessed Gemma did indeed understand the value of obedience, and gathered rich fruits of salvation from it. In the denial of her own will-a denial necessarily implied in the practice of obedience she found all her happiness. She wrote to her director: 'What consolation I experience in being always under obedience!' She obeyed as if she had been born to obey, although her natural disposition was to command and dominate others. But she succeeded in conquering nature, and made virtue triumph in her. 'Her obedience was indeed perfect,' it was stated in the Processes, 'without questioning or excuses, prompt and joyful. It reached such a perfection that she suffered torture of body and mind, rather than be wanting in this virtue.'

Here is one more incident which shows Gemma's perfect obedience.

The Gianninis had had a picture of Gemma painted representing her at prayer. After a few days this picture disappeared. A thousand causes were assigned by the family for its disappearance. It was thought that the Devil had taken it because of his hatred of the holy girl. Although she was not even remotely suspected, it was indeed Gemma herself who was to blame. Father Andreuccetti knew of this, having heard it from Gemma herself. The reader will easily guess the reason why she had hidden the picture, but the priest explained that her benefactors had had it painted only as a memorial of her, and that by hiding it she would be the cause of their suspicions and the false conclusions at which they would arrive, and advised her to return it to its place. Clearly, it was hard for her to obey this priest, but she conquered herself and put the picture back where she found it.

In a letter to Father Germanus, who no doubt had been told of the disappearance of the picture, and who was in a better position than anyone to divine her motive, she confessed what she had done:

‘I was questioned (Father, Jesus helped me not to tell a lie), I was questioned in this way: "Gemma," they said, "you did not take it, did you?" "What is the use of your worrying about it ? " I answered. " Leave it where it is. What do you want to do with it? Jesus does things well. If you would obtain any good for your souls from that picture, certainly He would have left it where it was, but with regard to an ugly scandalous figure, and you all know well what she has been, it is better that when the body is dead and gone, all be forgotten." And after she had obeyed she wrote again: 'The famous picture that disappeared for some days, is back in its place.'


Humility is the foundation of all sanctity. To attempt to build the edifice of Christian perfection without first providing this foundation, is absurd. Gemma's humility went hand in hand with her simplicity. In order to give at least a general idea of how she practiced this virtue, we cannot do less than quote a deposition made by Mother Gemma Giannini:

‘I can say that humility was the virtue most esteemed by the Servant of God, because endowed as she was with so many gifts, enlightened by so many supernatural manifestations, admired and loved by all, only a touch of pride was. necessary to destroy the whole spiritual edifice. Nevertheless as if she knew nothing of that, she remained always at her post, .the. most humble post, calm and at peace, and indifferent to all things. She did not perceive whether people liked her or not whether they paid. attention to her or neglected her. She was alike indifferent to praise and blame. She knew the truth and held to it being always happiest when ignored. She learned to know the Importance of this virtue and to love it from a vision she had and which she described to me. Jesus showed her a vast plain studded with trees. In the centre there was a square from which a majestic tree rose above all the others. He said to her: "Those trees are the virtues, but the tallest and the most majestic tree is holy humility."

It was her humility which made her say on one occasion to Aunt Cecilia: "Signora whatever you do for me, do it as if I was a poor person from the streets; otherwise you will gain no reward." Her progress in this virtue was marvelous. The greater and dearer she became in God's eyes, the humbler she became endeavoring to lower herself before all' and seeking to hide and continually humble herself. I who have with her in the intimate family circle, know that she had a poor opinion of herself, that she always sought the humblest duties. I remember that in the last days of her sickness, the Sisters of St. Camillus who were assisting her, wanted to know what was her favorite ejaculatory prayer, and she answered humbly: "My Jesus, mercy." This virtue was manifested by her looks and her modest and recollected demeanor, by her lowered voice, by her every act and word. She was indeed a model, an example and a school of humility for the whole household.'

After this magnificent testimony, the reader will not be astonished when we say that Blessed Gemma was truly athirst for humiliations. 'If through the mercy of God,' she wrote to Father Germanus, ' I have experienced happy moments, they were when I saw myself despised and humiliated.' And she prayed: 'May Jesus be glorified in the little humiliations He sends me! '

A prelate once visited Gemma, having heard her described as a soul possessing rare virtue. Guessing why he had come, she began to fondle a cat, and knowing that he thereupon despised her, she rejoiced that her stratagem had succeeded. The Prioress of the' Mantellate' Nuns, Sister M. Agnes, coming upon her one day in the sacristy, pretended to take her for a sinner. 'What a smell of sins! ' she said. 'I should not like to think, Gemma, that they were yours.' Gemma, believing her, became agitated and began to cry. 'Even Monsignor weeps when he has heard my confession,' she said, ' because he gets the smell of my sins.' At least that was what Gemma believed. Whilst she was still with the 'Mantellate' Nuns, she was asked by Aunt Cecilia, who had heard she could compose verses, to write a poem for one of those religious, who was to be received or professed. At first she promised to do it, but afterwards she said that such things were worldly, and the poem was not written. On another occasion, when she was asked by Aunt Cecilia to have some food, she answered: 'It is not food or drink that I want from you, but that you keep me hidden.'

Father Germanus would have liked her to sign her letters with ' Gemma of Jesus,' and explained to her that by such a signature she would mean: , Gemma who desires to belong entirely to Jesus.'

But it seemed to Gemma audacious to unite her name-the name of a sinner-with the most holy Name. She tried again and again to do so, but did not succeed. She could not induce herself to sign her letters that way, and she remained' Poor Gemma.' If her prayers were solicited, she did not refuse, but answered timidly as if seeking to hide herself: , Yes, I shall pray,' but not another word, because, she said, sometimes pride can lurk in the use of such phrases as ' unworthy,' etc.

To increase this virtue in His servant, God gave her heavenly instructions. Thus once He allowed her to see the beauty of a soul in the state of grace, and the ugliness of a soul in sin.. Of this she wrote afterwards thus: 'One was in the grace of God. How beautiful it was! If you could only have seen it! It was clothed in light, like a sun, and then…but I cannot describe it. But the other was in the power of the Devil. How terrible! I shall not say more than this, that there were beasts all round it. How fearful! How ugly it was!' The vision suggested the making of a resolution: 'With the help of Jesus, I hope never to commit sin again.' This was not an astonishing resolution for one who considered herself' vile and the fruit of sin.' 'That is my name,' she said.

Gemma carried the exercise of the virtue of humility so far that the very word pride filled her with alarm. Father Germanus wrote to warn her to be on her guard against pride, and this is how she answered:

'0 my God, do You have pity on me; do You have pity on Thy ungrateful child! It is true, it is indeed true that pride is in me. Listen, scarcely had I read your letter, and had come to the word pride, when the Devil used it to cast me almost into despair. For about an hour I felt very miserable. The moment came when I could bear no more, and I ran away to cast myself before the Crucifix with my head upon the ground. . I asked His forgiveness repeatedly, and at His holy Feet I asked Him to let me die, but He would not.'

Gemma could climb high up on the mountain of sanctity, because her virtue was solidly founded upon the rock of humility. Her maxims were: ‘I know that whoever desires to mount very high, slips immediately and falls again to the plain. ' ‘Jesus drives away from Him all proud souls. ' 'When Jesus desires to elevate a soul, He first humiliates it greatly.'


Poverty is a sister virtue to humility, and poverty shone so brightly in Gemma that a Franciscan named Father Gentile Pardini did not hesitate to compare her to St. Francis of Assisi. 'Gemma loved and practiced poverty like St. Francis,' he said. 'To see her made one think of a little shepherdess who had not a care in the world.' The words, , a little shepherdess,' was no doubt an allusion to the way she dressed. 'She could not have gone more poorly dressed,' deposed Sister Julia of St. Joseph. 'Everyone knew her by her poor and modest little mantle,' said Don Andrew Bartoloni. 'When she had grown up,' her brother Guido declared, ' she always preferred to dress like a nun.' 'Even as a child,' said her teacher in catechism, Isabel Bastiani, 'she was indifferent to what she wore, and never once did I hear her talk about clothes. I never saw in Gemma the little natural defects which one finds in children. As regards this, she appeared to be a grown woman and not a child; she was as one sees her now in the little picture of her, with her hair parted in the middle, and tied behind her head with a piece of ribbon. . . . And she wished it to be combed in that way. Whenever Aunt Cecilia asked her to let her hair come down over her forehead, she would answer: " I like to have my hair this way.'" And thus she continued to behave. The Gianninis would have been only too pleased to get her whatever she wanted, but she wanted nothing but her poverty.

Witnesses have described for us the singular manner in which Gemma dressed, but let Don Robert Andreuccetti speak for all: 'She loved poverty, not making a virtue of necessity, but out of pure love of virtue. She never complained, and always wore the simplest clothes, that is, a dress, a little mantle, and a straw hat; all of these were black. In the dyes of the world she appeared ridiculous, but for all that she never altered her style of dressing.'

We have already quoted the description of her famous mantle, given by one witness. Another witness called her hat' an antiquated school hat.' She never wanted anything new. Sometimes her aunt at Camaiore sent her various articles of dress, but these she exchanged for old garments belonging to the elder girls of the Giannini family. When a new ribbon was bought for her hair, she wore it once out of obedience, but then immediately took it off. Signor Matthew asked Gemma to help his daughter Euphemia to pass an examination in French, saying that if she passed he would give Gemma a new dress. 'I shall do my best to help her pass the examination,' she answered, 'but I do not want the dress.'

It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that some people should have asked the Gianninis why they kept a girl so poorly clothed. 'People used to ask us,' deposed Signora Justina, 'why we were not ashamed to have with us a girl so simply dressed.'

Basil Morelli, the Giannini butler, declared: , People were astonished that Signora Cecilia should maintain and go out with a girl who was so poorly dressed as to make herself ridiculous. I heard this spoken about in a public vehicle.' 'It is not necessary for me to speak about her clothes,' said the lawyer, Joseph Giannini. 'They seemed ridiculous in their form and simplicity, not to say anything of their poverty. I shouldn't have gone out with her.'

At the time when Gemma was dividing her day between the ' Mantellate' Nuns and the Giannini household, her brother Guido married. Gemma was invited to the wedding, but nothing could induce her to go. However, she at length took the advice of the Mother Prioress and went, but in the same clothes as she always wore. The guests were very displeased, and so was the bride, who then met her for the first time. Indeed the bride told her to go away, never to return, and expressed a wish that no one should bring her to the place again, because she was a stupid person. It must be said, however, that later on her opinion of Gemma changed and she conceived a great veneration for her. Guido indeed tells us that his sister stayed at their house at Bagni di S. Giuliano for two months during 1900 or 1901, and that she behaved towards himself and his wife 'with all kindness and attention, never complaining and considering excessive whatever was done for her.' Gemma on this occasion was accompanied by her Aunt Elisa who, in her testimony, does not agree with her nephew, for she says that they remained there only ten days. It was during her stay at this place that Gemma was seen to be wearing gloves while she was at dinner. 'What style! ' her brother remarked. 'Eating your dinner with gloves on !' Gemma asked him to allow her to keep them on, and his wife pleaded for her. But after dinner on some pretext she induced her to take them off, and seeing the Stigmata she ran weeping to call Aunt Elisa.

Gemma gave her sister-in-law as a marriage present a beautifully bound copy of Philothea by St. Francis de Sales, which had been given to her as a catechism prize. A silk parasol, likewise a gift, she presented d to her cousin Rosa Bartelloni. Thus she went on stripping herself of everything earthly, from her earliest years having no other desire than to belong solely and entirely to Jesus.


But God is jealous of the human heart, and demanded one more sacrifice from His Servant. Father Germanus had several times advised Gemma to detach herself completely from everything, without explaining himself further, and so Gemma with her accustomed ingenuousness asked Jesus what this meant: 'I have nothing and don't know from what to detach myself; I have only Thee, my Jesus.' 'But, Father,' she wrote to her spiritual director, , do you know what happened? Jesus said: "Are you not too attached to that tooth belonging to the Venerable Gabriel ? " I was astonished, and I was about to make excuses, saying: "But, Jesus, it is a precious relic." I was almost crying, but Jesus said somewhat seriously: "My child, Jesus has said so, and that is enough.'" And then she remembered that when Sister Mary, the portress of the ' Mantellate' Convent, asked ·her for a loan of "the relic in order to show it to the nuns, she had cried on parting with it; it appeared to her a sign of attachment, and she generously deprived herself of it, giving it to Signora Justina, who considered it doubly dear because of the sacrifice Gemma had made.

Her detachment from all that was not Jesus was truly heroic. Writing to Father Germanus, she said: 'In your Mass to-morrow morning, please ask Jesus to hide me in His Sacred Heart, that I may see nothing, feel nothing, think of nothing, love no one, but Him.' This was her continual prayer, her one aspiration. And everything served to sharpen the intensity of this desire. Aunt Cecilia told her to write to a relation, living far away. She could not help finishing the letter in this way: 'Jesus does not wish me to succeed in anything, because He wishes my mind to be occupied with Him alone.' Later on we shall see to what lengths she carried her detachment from everybody and everything, but here we shall only mention her detachment from her friends.

During her stay with the Gianninis, in the course of the same year, and within a few months of one another, her little sister Julia, and her brother Anthony, died. She was most resigned, so much so that she was able to offer consolation even to Aunt Cecilia, who was filled with great sorrow at the death of Julia especially. The reader will remember the affection Gemma had for this sister of hers, but she was living a life of faith, and what counted more with her were eternal interests. 'But why are you crying? ' she asked her adopted mother. 'Don't you know that she is on her way to Heaven? ' When Anthony died she had a revelation that Julia was .in Heaven. She said joyfully: 'Now I am no longer afraid. How good Jesus is! Before He gave me this new cross, He granted me the consolation of knowing that Julia was in Heaven.'

Gemma led a very secluded life, and even in Lucca she was known by few. She never in any way encouraged public attention, so much so that when after her death the fame of the marvels God was deigning to work through her began to spread abroad, her fellow citizens were very much astonished. They could hardly believe that God had bestowed in such profusion His choicest gifts upon that humble and obscure girl.

Even in her everyday dealings with those around her, she was unassuming, modest and reserved. Joseph, the advocate, deposed that had he not seen her several times in ecstasy, he would never have known the color of her eyes. The greater part of her work in the Giannini household had to do with the little children. She understood innocence and got on well with her charges. She liked to have sweets to give to them to help to make them all the more docile. These sweets she would obtain through Aunt Cecilia from the eldest boy of the family, who was then studying at the University of Pisa. Needless to say, she never tasted those dainties herself.


That which was related in the foregoing paragraph reveals Gemma's spirit of mortification. In mortification Gemma was a heroine. Whoever considers how prone young girls are to vanity will readily admit that she was heroic, not only in her manner of dressing, but also in what Cecilia Giannini says about her: 'Never did I see her look at herself in a mirror.'

We have already seen how Gemma burned with the desire of practicing penance: and more will be said on this subject in the course of this work. Her heart became inflamed at the contemplation of Jesus Crucified. Her one desire was to be like Him. At table she provided herself with a chair somewhat lower than the others so that she would be more hidden. Her place at table was in the corner near Aunt Cecilia, very much in the background. She ate so little that Chevalier Matthew would sometimes say jokingly: 'You had better eat a little, Gemma, or I shall. make you take some medicine to give you an appetite.' She used to answer with one of her sweetest smiles. Annetta deposed: 'She would take her soup with a spoon that had holes in it, so as to let it appear that she was drinking it, and then when she thought she was unobserved, she took her plate to the kitchen, and was reproved by Aunt Cecilia for doing so. We used to say: "Find fault with us, but why mortify Gemma." Now and again Aunt Cecilia commanded her in virtue of holy obedience to eat, and she did so, but she had to vomit it up again.' These last words refer particularly to the complete abstinence from every food which she practiced from Pentecost to June, 1902, during which period she lived entirely on Sacramental Communion.

According to Signora Justina Giannini, Gemma slept very little. Sometimes when she was asked in the morning how she had slept, she answered: , A short hour!' She also knew how to mortify her flesh with tools of her own making. On one occasion Aunt Cecilia found her in a faint on the ground, which was all covered with blood, and near her there was a scourge of iron. This Aunt Cecilia prudently hid under her clothes, so that when Gemma revived, she would think that she had not been observed by anyone. Thus Chevalier Matthew deposed : ' I heard my sister say that she ( Gemma) had a scourge, and that she used to beat herself with it. I can truly say that she fasted always, and it really appeared to me that she could not live in that way without a miracle.' And Brother Famiano declared: 'If she had been allowed to continue she would have shortened her life through mortification. Once she let me see a knotted cord which I under-stood she had worn around her waist. Her confessor had ordered her to take it off because the knots had eaten their way into her flesh. On one occasion she wanted me to exchange a scourge which was of iron for hers which was of cord, which as I noticed was covered with blood-stains.'

But there were those who watched over the Servant of God and who moderated the ardours of her desire for penance. Several times, both her confessor and her director deprived her of her instruments of penance. Father Germanus had done so and thus describes them: 'A belt studded with sixty sharp iron points; a scourge likewise of iron, with five thongs, and a long knotted cord in which she had inserted nails, which she wore tight around her waist.' With regard to this matter Mother Gemma deposed: 'She was obedient to her confessor when he moderated the ardour of her penance, and a thing that made me and all at home marvel was that the exercise of mortification, even though she was in delicate health, never exhausted her or made her incapable of carrying out her duties in the family. She did indeed seem to be sustained by a supernatural strength.'


She who dealt so intimately with the Angels, and who was adorned with so many virtues, could not but be also remarkable for that virtue which is called angelic. This virtue was visible in her exterior, and appeared in a special way in her countenance, so much so that Father Andreuccetti could say: 'Her look was something unique, and I was struck by it to an extraordinary degree, although I cannot describe what it was that struck me or how or why.' And he sums up his impressions of her in one pregnant phrase: 'The only human thing about Gemma was her body.'

The reader already knows something of the way in which she strove all her life to keep this beautiful virtue unsullied in her heart. She cultivated a special devotion to St. Agnes, and to the other saints who were particularly remarkable for their purity. But it was above all to the Blessed Virgin that she entrusted the protection of her treasure, and for this purpose all her life long she never omitted to say three Hail Mary’s every day with her hands under her knees. She was once surprised in this position by her Aunt Elisa and upon her asking for an explanation she replied: 'Grandmother taught me to do it. She said that if I said three Hail Mary’s in that way, the Blessed Virgin would never allow me to commit a sin against purity.'

We have already alluded to her reserve -a reserve certainly suggested by her love of modesty. We shall here quote a deposition of Cecilia Giannini:

‘She washed herself, yes, but only when no one else was in the room. She did not wish to be smart-looking, but she kept herself clean. While she slept in my room, a matter of three years, I never saw her dress or undress; she always did this behind a screen. Even during her last illness when she had to be visited by a doctor, she asked me not to look at her. With the doctor she was very bashful, and only allowed his attentions because she was told to do so, and then only in so far as was absolutely necessary. She could not have been more modest .... Before her death, and once perhaps during that same illness, I noticed that she had washed her feet, so as to prevent others from seeing them.'

Her love for the angelic virtue was so great that to defend it she performed acts which placed her by the side of the greatest heroes of Christian hagiography, once actually jumping into the icy waters of an open cistern in the garden in order to free herself from a violent temptation.

The exercise of this virtue made her most dear to the eyes of God; she herself was told so by her Guardian Angel. The fact is related in the Processes for the Beatification.

In one of the many visits of her Guardian Angel, she followed out the suggestions of Father Paul Tei, whose advice she had sought, being in doubt, either through modesty or fear for her chastity, regarding the reality of her heavenly visitor. The Angel smiled, and then-this is her own account of what happened -he knelt down, and with hands joined recited the words the priest says in the holy Mass from the Sanctus to the Elevation (that is, the Angelic Trisagion). Then he said: 'It is because of your great virginal purity that the Lord confers upon you so many graces.'

When Aunt Cecilia once observed that she should be most jealously careful of this virtue, and should strive to keep it unstained, she answered: 'I have nothing else to offer to Jesus.'


Before closing this chapter, perhaps already too long, we invite the reader to cast another look at this child reposing so calmly in the arms of God. She was living a life of Faith, and it seemed to her-so Monsignor Tei attested-that no matter what she asked of God, she would obtain it. And because she was living this life of Faith, everything that concerned Jesus was dear to her. Thus in the Giannini household she desired to have charge of the domestic chapel, and Chevalier Matthew declares that even when they were in the country, the presence of Gemma was perceived from the cleanliness of the altars. When she was with the' Mantellate ' Nuns, on one occasion, according to Sister M. Julia of St. Joseph, she wanted to polish the inside of a ciborium and only desisted when told that that could be done only by priests. She had great respect and veneration for priests, so great indeed that Chevalier Matthew could depose: 'I never knew her to say a word against a priest.' This is a thing rare enough even among pious women.

Her lively faith also led her to have at heart the welfare of religion, and to attend the preaching of the word of God. We are assured by Cecilia Giannini that she took a deep interest in the notices concerning the propagation of the Faith, and prayed earnestly for missioners and for the conversion of infidels. We shall quote a deposition of Mother Gemma Giannini: [who was one of the older Giannini girls during Gemma’s lifetime]

‘I know that the Servant of God had always a great veneration for the word of God, and that she attended with great assiduity the sermons in the Cathedral, especially during Lent, and during missions. She did not read books of devotion much, because she was usually very busy, and being so advanced in the spiritual life she preferred to raise her soul to God and concentrate her thoughts upon Him. When she came to live with us she had only one book of devotion, but afterwards she began to make less and less use of it, as it seemed better to her to give vent to her heart in her own words. In times of aridity, that is, afterwards, towards the end of her life, she used to read, with great fervor, a book containing the Psalms and the Gospels, and also “The Preparation for Death”, by St. Alphonsus Liguori.'

‘I am full of misery,' she used to say, ' but with Jesus I can do all things.' She hoped abundantly in the Mercy of God, and her great love for Jesus allowed no room for the slightest doubt of His Goodness, nor could anything prevent her from casting herself full of trust into the arms of God, there to rest upon His Heart. 'Thy Mercy, 0 Lord,' she used to say, ' is the anchor of all my hopes. I realize that the Mercy of God is greater than my ingratitude.' 'How good Jesus always is!' she continued. 'I desire never to leave Jesus. I want to offer Him all I have; I want to offer Him myself. But what do I possess? Nothing, except my sins, my miseries, my great self-love. And this is the gift that I make to Jesus. But He will have compassion on my misery. He will give me strength; He will give me grace.'

This beautiful humility was united to a filial confidence, enabling her to say: 'I have found something I can give to Thee, 0 Jesus, my own nothingness.' 'I fall and fall and fall again, but Jesus is with me.' 'Sometimes it seems to me that Jesus can no longer forgive me. And then I shrug my shoulders, and think no more about sin.' , When I remember my sins I am ashamed to seek and expect Heaven after having refused it so many times. But as soon as I look at my Jesus Crucified, I cannot do less, even with my many sins, than long for it ardently.'

And what had Gemma to fear, knowing that she was so loved by Jesus, and that she loved Him so much in return? 'I have found a Jesus,' she used to say, ' Who so captivates my heart that it cannot but long for Him.' Jesus opened the doors of the future and showed her the sorrows that awaited her. 'You tell me,' she answered, ' that You art preparing for me a future full of suffering. But the future is in the hands of God, and therefore I am not terrified. You have so much, but I have nothing wherewith to repay Thee.' 'I have such confidence in Thee, ° Jesus, that even if I should see the gates of Hell open and myself on the edge of the abyss, I should not despair. And even if I should see both Heaven and Hell leagued against me, I should not give up hope of Mercy, because I should still trust in Thee.'

Gemma so endeavored to instill these sentiments in others that Father Gentile Pardini could declare , Gemma was an apostle, and sought to excite others to practise the virtues she possessed herself, especially the virtue of Christian hope .... '

It was from this abandonment that came Gemma's imperturbable equanimity in the face of every happening. She was in the arms of her Father, what then had she to fear? 'Even in her anxieties,' continued Father Pardini, ' and in the midst of the most terrible assaults of the Devil, she remained so resigned, so calm, so content, that she seemed always to be like a child at play.' From this abandonment also came her intense desire to fulfill always and in all things the adorable Will of God. 'Her motto,' said a witness in the Processes, 'was to fulfill the Will of God always and in everything.'

Since therefore the heart of Gemma was so well disposed and adorned with the flowers and the fruits of such beautiful virtues, God was enabled to bestow upon her His best gifts. The soil was well prepared to receive them and to make them fructify for her own welfare and the welfare of souls and for the glory of God.



God loves souls; the Devil hates them, and hates them the more venomously the more they are favored by Heaven. That Gemma was very dear to God is clear to anyone who has read these pages thus far, and the hatred of the Devil for this soul that caused him so much confusion, will not surprise the reader. The account of the way the powers of evil attacked this ingenuous and innocent child will seem almost legendary, but the facts have been vouched for by persons worthy of belief. That these facts and the apparitions to be referred to, were anything but imaginary, is clear from the observable effects they produced in Gemma.

The enemy of souls began his attack upon her very early. Perhaps from her first steps along the road to sanctity the Devil guessed the shameful defeats he would suffer through her, and decided to lose no time. Before she went to live with the Gianninis and while she was still in her own home, she was already accustomed to terrifying apparitions of the spirit of evil, and had experienced in her virginal body those altogether undesirable effects which often accompany his presence.

‘They (the demonic apparitions) were waiting for her in her room in the evening,' deposed Cecilia Giannini, referring to the time when Gemma still slept at home, 'in the form of dogs, of cats, of men, black monkeys like those one sees in a menagerie. Gemma suffered a great deal, and even spoke to her confessor about them, and he, having asked me through Gemma to come to see him, told me to find out how these things were happening.' Sometimes on her return she met two of these strange men, who made her swing round violently, and then beat her with ropes. But what did these blows matter to one so eager for suffering, even when they were struck with satanic hatred? 'I ought to scourge myself,' she used to say to them. 'You can do it for me.' Things came to such a pass that the Evil One took the form of a person known to her, who used to work in her father's pharmacy, a good boy with whom Gemma had never spoken; She occupied a room next to that of her Aunt's who testified that he never had entered their house.

During her serious illness, a certain Signora Rossi used to bring her sweets, a practice of hers when visiting the sick. The sweets were placed in a chest of drawers, but when they were again taken out they were found to be so spoiled that they were unfit for use. Aunt Elisa asked Gemma whether the children had been at the drawers, but she answered: 'No one has been near them; it is the Devil himself who has done that.' Thus the malign spirit sought to destroy the few comforts which the charity of others procured for in her sickness.

Subsequently these persecutions became so real that her aunts who slept near and were subject to disturbances, thought of giving her a room more remote from them. Thus Gemma wrote to Monsignor Volpi:

‘Aunt Elisa got out of bed because she said she heard me crying, and I told her I had cried. I was almost in despair. I besought her to return to bed and not to wake the others. But she began to argue with me and with herself, and then went away. This morning, however, she told me that she would give me that dark room you know of, to sleep in. " There you will be at your ease," she said, " and besides I do not want to miss my night's sleep!" ‘

One day the Prioress of the 'Mantellate' Nuns, Sister Agnes, saw Gemma holding up her left elbow with her right hand. She was obviously in pain and confessed to her: 'I am in great pain here.' On being asked what had happened, she replied: 'I have done nothing. Chiappino' -that is what she called the Devil- 'has given me a blow here on the arm.'

Still more serious was the following incident which is attested to by the same Sister Agnes to whom, on the advice of Monsignor Volpi, Gemma confided the secrets of her soul. We shall quote her exact words :

‘She had many anxieties, especially because of the Devil. He tried to terrify her, appeared to her and struck her blows. She told me once that one evening on returning home and entering her own room, she saw Monsignor Volpi sitting there in his Episcopal robes. Filled with terror she ran to cast herself on her knees before a picture of our Blessed Lady of Sorrows. Whilst she was thus praying, this apparition in the likeness of Monsignor Volpi, took out a knotty stick and beat her unmercifully, so that he made her spit blood. After that he disappeared and everything was peaceful once more, but nevertheless she remained all that night in prayer before the Blessed Virgin.'

The following incident was attested to by Marianna Bianchini:

‘One day when she was living, as far as I know, in the Via del Biscione and used to frequent the Church of St. Peter Somaldi, she told me that the Devil often tried to prevent her from receiving Holy Communion. She said that the Devil in the guise of a coarse looking man would push her and even throw her down on the ground in the mud, in order to compel her to return home, and that she used to go back and change and then return to the church to receive Holy Communion. Sometimes she met him at the door of the Church of St. Peter, in the appearance as usual of a coarse-looking man, and he said to her: "Do not go to receive Communion; you will commit a sacrilege. Last night you were guilty of wicked things!" Gemma usually paid no attention to him, but she confessed to me that on one occasion she did listen to him and did not receive Holy Communion although she went to the church to hear Mass. On leaving the church she found the man there at the door, and he was pleased with her and rejoiced because she had listened to him at last. Then Gemma realized that she had been tricked by the Evil One, and returning immediately to the church she received Holy Communion. She confided to me that on turning back with the firm resolution to go to Communion, she said to the man: "Oh, I understand!" And by that she meant to say: "So you are the Devil! Well, I am going to receive Holy Communion to spite you."’

Gemma's reception of Holy Communion must have been very displeasing to the enemy of souls, and that is why he endeavored in other ways to prevent her from receiving It. Sister Julia Sestini attested, that one day Gemma asked her whether she would have courage enough to receive Holy Communion when the Devil stood by the side of the priest with weapons in his hands. Sister Julia answered that it would be a beautiful thing to die thus with Jesus in one's heart. Gemma confessed that she had received the same answer from her confessor, and then confided to her friend that when receiving Communion she very often saw the Devil by the side of the priest, threatening her with death.


The Devil never laid down his arms in this attack upon Gemma. The very fact that he was unable to conquer her in anything, only deepened his hatred. It was not only to keep her away from Holy Communion that he persecuted her. His assaults were directed against all the virtues. One would think, as Father Germanus remarks, that the Devil would have had something more important to do in his kingdom of darkness. Certainly nothing seemed to please him more than to torment this innocent child, always employing new means of assailing her with temptations, and disturbing her with his persecutions.

The violence of these attacks increased when she went to live permanently with the Gianninis. Because her soul was every day. becoming more absorbed in God, Satan had recourse to every stratagem to hinder her flights towards the supernatural. We mention here some of the vexations to which she was subjected by the Devil -vexations attested to in the Processes. Afterwards we shall return to her own writings. Her ingenuousness and singular can dour of soul being admitted, there is no reason to doubt the veracity of her own confessions, especially when they were obtained from her through the command of obedience. I t took a lot to make Gemma speak of them herself: 'You would need tongs to get a word out of her,' said Cecilia Giannini, referring to these confidences. , Often I grew tired of putting questions, as in the end it was difficult to get her to speak. It would seem that it took her an hour to say something about the matter. These facts, moreover, to which we have referred are not unusual in Christian hagiography.

Because Gemma confided in her so much, Aunt Cecilia often had proof of these facts. Sometimes she saw the bed shake under Gemma, who was trembling from head to foot, and she knew then that she was being beaten by the infernal enemy. Cecilia sought to help her by the use of holy water. One day these attacks occurred while she was in ecstasy. Cecilia placed the scapular of the Seven Dolours over her shoulders and immediately she was freed. 'Now, now, vent your rage upon me if you can! ' she was heard to say to the demons. And then she remembered that Monsignor had forbidden her to speak to the demon, and wishing to confess it as a disobedience she told it to Aunt Cecilia. Aunt Cecilia was standing by and so could hear her say that . the Devil had beaten her so much that she believed -these are her own words- that her lungs would collapse. Then she saw the Devil retire to a corner under the window, and it was at this moment that she spoke the words referred to above. Aunt Cecilia told her that it was the Blessed Virgin who liberated her, and Gemma thereupon asked for the scapulars and wore them ever afterwards, even to the grave. [Summarium Proc. super virtutibus, pp. 506-510, for the attacks described in this paragraph.]

These vexations -we still quote from Aunt Cecilia --did not cease as long as she lived. In the beginning they occurred at intervals, but continuously towards .the end of her life. It made one shudder to witness her sufferings. When she knelt down to pray, the Devil fell upon her from behind. When she went to bed, Aunt Cecilia, who slept in the next room, heard the usual noises and the usual blows, and running to her very often found her either dragged ,under the bed or stretched out on her face, now in one place, now in another, and heard her all the while beseeching Jesus: 'Do not let that ugly beast come near me!' However, one thing particularly remarked by all who witnessed these frightful scenes was her great modesty. For example, never would she allow her feet to be seen, but kept them tucked up under her dress, which she did not take off on going to bed, contenting herself with removing her corset because she had been ordered by her adopted mother to do so. In particular the Devil must have feared and hated Gemma's prayers, for he used every means of preventing her from saying them, disturbing her, striking her, and knocking her down. Aunt Cecilia deposed that she saw her while at prayer fall backwards, ' with her legs from the knees down tucked under her.'

But there is more still. There was a period lasting about a month when, according to Monsignor Moreschini, Gemma seemed to be really obsessed. This is what he says:

‘Scarcely had she begun to pray when, as I observed myself on two occasions within four days, the Devil assaulted her, and obtaining dominion over her senses made her behave like one obsessed. She was thrown down upon the earth; she repulsed whoever offered her any object of devotion; she spat upon the Crucifix and upon the picture of the Blessed Virgin, and I remember that one day she caught hold of the rosary from my cincture and broke it into bits. However, I must say this, that at such times neither I nor any of those who saw her, ever perceived in her even the least act against good morals. She never uttered words except, as I learned from Signora Cecilia, to say: "Go away, go away! " when the latter drew near to her. When I offered her any sacred object, she used the same words to me. I exorcised her, but without result the first time, since although she became calm after half an hour, the assaults were renewed. The second time I used the exorcisms she remained calm, and then I gave her a relic of the Holy Cross to put on and ordered her to ask Jesus to free her from those attacks of the Devil. From that moment she was left entirely free.'

Gemma wanted to keep this relic, and Monsignor Moreschini consenting, she put it round her neck and kept it there always. After her death it was given to her friend, Euphemia, who afterwards became Mother Gemma.

One must not be surprised on reading of this incident. 'Possession is not an absolute evil,' says Saudreau, summing up the teaching of theologians and mystics. 'Sin alone is a true evil. Possession is, for the afflicted one, a terrible suffering, but a suffering that can be for the greater good of a soul which will be glad and thank God for it throughout all eternity. More frequently it is a trial and not a chastisement. God at times permits the most innocent and holiest persons to undergo this severe trial. [I fatti straordinari della vita spirituale, 1908, pp, 353-354]


But perhaps the apparitions which afflicted Gemma most were those in which the unclean spirit took filthy and shameless forms in order to try and obscure the candor of her soul. It was because of one of these assaults that, as previously mentioned, she plunged, in the middle of winter, into a cistern of icy water. It was a famous bath, as she herself called it afterwards, which certainly would have caused her death if she had not been rescued by an invisible hand.

And it was not only satanic jealousy of the rapid strides Gemma was making along the road to sanctity that was the cause of the persecutions she had to undergo. This hate was increased still more on account of her zeal for the salvation of souls. Since nothing ever made her desist from an apostolate in which, as we shall see, her particular mission consisted, the Devil intensified his attacks. Jesus warned His Servant and she told Father Germanus about it thus: 'After Communion two days ago, Jesus said: "My child, the demon is preparing to make violent war upon you." And these words He made me hear every moment in my heart.-" Pray." -Who will be the victor, the Devil or my soul? Oh, how this thought afflicts me! How will this war be decided?' On this warning there followed a threat: 'War, war, upon your soul!' These words resounded in her ears for several days. Father Germanus was also included in this threat, and shortly afterwards the first attack was made.

Upon undertaking the direction of Gemma's soul, Father Germanus had commanded her to write down the history of her past life, on the pretext of knowing her sins better, but in reality to obtain an account of the marvels which God had secretly worked in her soul. To overcome her objections, this was to be called a general confession. Even here she experienced great repugnance, because she thought that Father Germanus would be scandalized on coming to know her sins, and would pay no more attention to her soul. But again obedience won the day.

Gemma set to work and wrote about a hundred pages, in which she artfully did her best to hide the abundant gifts which God had showered upon her, by the confession .of sins with which she declared she had spoiled them. However, contrary to her wishes, she succeeded in writing an admirable autobiography. This humble but glorious confession excited the rage of the Devil. As he had sought to prevent its being written, so he tried to put obstacles in the course of the work, appearing to her in visible form and saying: ' Well done, well done, write away. I t is all my work. Where can you hide yourself now?' But Gemma continued and finished her task.

But the Devil would not give up the struggle and endeavored to get rid of the pages that were such a cause of confusion to him. The general confession, or we should say, the autobiography, was given, by Father Germanus's directions, to Aunt Cecilia, who then waited for a favorable opportunity of sending it to him. But one day the manuscript which she had put under lock and key disappeared and could not be found. The Devil himself had taken it, as he made known to Gemma. She wrote to Father Germanus:

‘One night-I do not remember what night it was-I was sleeping peacefully when the Devil came with a temptation somewhat bad. I fought for more than an hour or so; I prayed, made Signs of the Cross, etc. One invocation only to the Immaculate Conception freed me altogether, but he, being furious, wanted to have his revenge. He would have liked to strike me, but as this had been forbidden him since that time the Father Provincial chased him away, he could not do it. He cried out: "War upon your Father; your manuscript is in my hands!” And he went away.’ [Lettere ed estasi, p. 25]

To compel the restoration of the manuscript to its place Father Germanus had recourse to exorcisms, and it was returned; but in what a state! All the pages were smoke-stained and singed, just as if they had been held at a fire. The writing, however, was still legible, and so Gemma had not to do it a second time. The manuscript, such as it came from the hands of the Devil, is now preserved by the Postulator General of the Passionists, and is an eloquent monument of the powerless rage of the angel of darkness against the humility of the Servant of God.

In continuation of the letter quoted above, Gemma said: 'An hour or so after I had been to confession, the Devil said: "As long as you are doing it for yourself do what you like, but be sure and do nothing to help sinners or you will pay me dearly for it." Father, tell me something. How will all this end? The Devil is using every means at his disposal, and is thinking of others.'

And the Evil One did indeed use every means in his power, but all his efforts were in vain. He tried to cause trouble between Monsignor Volpi and Father Germanus by letters which, if they were not actually written by him, must, from the poison they contained, have been written at his dictation or under his inspiration. To bring discredit on the Servant of God he took from a desk the letters Gemma had received from her director-letters she kept religiously and read and re-read for her spiritual profit, and scattered them about on the floor;' where they were found the next morning. Naturally Gemma was suspected, and she thereupon wrote immediately to Father Germanus:

‘Father, Father, Jesus is still exposed upon the altar. Run to Him and ask Him who it was that scattered my letters (yours) all over the floor. I am suspected, but it seems to me I did not do it. . . . They all know about it because it was thought that there were thieves in the house and they were all called. Do you understand me, Father? All your letters were found thrown about the room. Jesus will explain everything to you. I have told my confessor, and he said it was the Devil. Who knows what the Devil will do next, Father; but if you think it right, let the household know.' [Lettere ed estasi, p. 34]

She had guessed the reason of these paltry stratagems of the angel of darkness. 'Yes, yes,' she wrote, 'the monster will redouble his efforts to deprive me of help, because he sees that this help is for me a great blessing. But if even this should happen, Jesus at any rate will come just as often to my heart.' With this in view, the malign spirit first of all tried to shake her trust in her confessor, actually taking his appearance and sitting in his place in the confessional. On one occasion the Servant of God recognized him when he spoke, his words being so different from those she was accus-tomed to hear from the pious Monsignor Volpi, and she fled away -horrified. At another time his insinuations were so subtle that she was almost on the point of believing him, and Father Germanus attests that it took him a long time to restore her peace of mind.

Against Father Germanus the Devil's efforts were unceasing. Gemma was sometimes about to yield. She mentions this herself in a letter: 'I had indeed lost all my confidence in the Father. My enemy, that Devil who is full of limitless deceit, was making me see so clearly that the Father wanted me to lose my soul that I had believed him well enough. But Jesus has enlightened me.' 'The enemy does not neglect to visit me from time to time,' she wrote with her accustomed candor to her director. 'He would like to take away again the peace of mind you gave me. But Jesus has helped me and he has not been able to do anything. It is enough that I make an act, or say a prayer, or that I begin to meditate, to make that ugly thing begin his attacks, saying : " What does he care about you? He is neglecting his duty; he is a chatterbox . . .'" 'And would you know how many temptations he suggests about you! How he tries to make me believe that you are mad, that you are a soothsayer, etc. At other times he makes these words resound in my ears: "Oh yes, trust yourself to him, to that fool of a charlatan ! That has made you believe in him ?" . . .'

What was the impression made on Father Germanus by these anything but desirable compliments? He certainly remembered the words spoken to Gemma by the Devil: 'War, war upon thy Father, and upon your souls,' and her remark: ' It seems as if the beast is more furious with you than with me.' 'And I can say,' he added some years later in his biography of Gemma, 'that the Devil knew well how to keep his word.'

We cannot resist quoting here several extracts from her correspondence. While letting us into her confidence with regard to the efforts of the Devil to injure her soul, they also reveal the sufferings she endured during this trial.'

She wrote to her director :

‘A new attack was made yesterday soon after I had been to confession. Listen, Father! The confessor said that he believed it was better to discontinue those small penances he had allowed me to practise for some time past. To tell the truth, I did not like doing this at all. But as the confessor had often told me that the thing that pleased Jesus most was obedience (and it seems that I am beginning to understand this a little) I assured him that I was content to do whatever he desired. If you knew how the confessor tires himself out trying to make me good, and in particular, obedient! But my head is made of wood, and my body, when there is question of obedience, how slothful it is! At any rate, when I arrived home after confession I took away everything and I was therefore very much at peace. However, it did not last long. As soon as I had a moment to myself, for it was the time of my prayer, I knelt down and began to say the Rosary of the Five Wounds of Jesus. At the fourth Wound I saw before me a figure like Jesus, freshly scourged allover, with his heart laid open and bleeding. I finished the Rosary, and then I said in a loud voice:

"Blessed be Jesus and Mary!" He did not answer me. I repeated it and he said: "Blessed, blessed," but he did not pronounce the names of Jesus and Mary. I understood who it was, and made the Sign of the Cross. He continued, however, to stay with heart open and bleeding, and he began by saying: " Is it thus, my child, . that You repay me? Look at me; see how much I have suffered for thee. And now You canst not give me the consolation of those penances. After all, they did not amount to much, and You canst very well continue them as before." "No, no," I replied, " I wish to obey; and if I do what You desire, I disobey."‘

And so on this occasion also the astute enemy had to withdraw in confusion. For Jesus had come to her and had given her a sign by which she might know when the Devil was near and speaking to her. 'One morning after Holy Communion,' she herself wrote, ' it seemed to me that Jesus warned me that when I saw anything, I should immediately say those words (that is, Blessed be Jesus and Mary) ; if the words were repeated in return, it was from Jesus, if not, it was from the Devil.' Thus Jesus continued to comfort her. The only fear that troubled Gemma after these assaults and these apparitions was the fear of having offended Jesus. She complained of this to Him. 'I allow these things to happen,' He answered, ' in order that all may know that you are weak and can sin; and then they will know your misery, and you will learn to be humble, truly humble. With all your defects, it only requires a little thing to make you proud ! ' 'But, my Jesus,' Gemma replied, 'at least grant that I may not offend Thee again.' And Jesus then answered: 'Do not follow your own will, and you will be always safe.'

The reader will pardon us if we linger a little longer on this subject of the diabolical assaults which were inflicted upon Gemma. She wrote to her confessor:

‘Monsignor, the Devil has again attacked me Listen! Yesterday Aunt told me to draw a bucket of water. I drew the water, and filled the jugs. I then took the bucket to put it back in its place, and on my way I had to pass an image of the Heart of Jesus. On seeing that image my heart gave three or four violent jumps. I saluted Jesus with these words: " 0 my Jesus, hasten to grant me the grace to be united for ever with Thee. Make me so much Thine that we two can never be separated one from the other." Shortly after I had pronounced these words I received such a heavy blow on my left shoulder that I fell to the ground, but nothing was broken. I do not understand what all this means. But it hurt me very much.'

There was another attack on the following day : , This time there were actually two. I was terrified. I was thinking of Jesus, but I was unable to call upon Him by word of mouth. The Blessed Virgin had said to me just before : "The attack is about to begin, and it will last until you have in your hands an image of Confrater Gabriel." This was true.'

In her next letter to Monsignor Volpi, Gemma mentions another visitation:

‘He said that when you decide to put me in a Convent he will not let me go, and that on the evening before, he will tear me to pieces with pincers. Then he beat me a little. With the help of holy water, and the intercession of St. Paul of the Cross I finally got rid of him. I began to pray a little and I was in the middle of my meditation when he came again. I said to him then: "Go away, filthy beast! Do you not see that instead of making me lose my soul you are helping me to save it?" He ran off quickly very far away. I continued my prayers, and so everything ended well.'

The following temptation was perhaps the worst that could afflict the soul of one who was so full of love for God. Here is her own description of it :

‘At about half-past nine, he (the Devil) left me for a while because I said very fervently:

"Welcome sufferings, welcome the Cross." Hardly had I said these words when he went away. I took the Crucifix between my hands and became a little recollected. Jesus came to give me His Cross. I took it and at that moment He gave me the marks in my hands and feet, with great pain. I wanted to get up and go down on my knees to make the Holy Hour, but just then that beast returned, this time in the form of a young man who whispered into my ear: "What are you doing ? You are indeed stupid to pray to a malefactor, One who desires to be revenged upon you. See what He has done to you, nailed you to a cross just the same as He is! See the harm He does to you! Trample upon Him; spit in His face, tell Him to leave you alone, and that I am going to be your guide." I kissed Jesus to spite the Devil and said : " 0 my Jesus, I thank Thee for all the graces You have given me, and I desire to love Thee with all my heart." And all the while he (the Devil) was whispering in my ear: "How can you love a malefactor condemned to death; a man you do not know? Look at me! I am a fine young man who does no one any harm. That person, however, makes you suffer always; I on the contrary would make you always happy. If you obey me I shall free you from all the pain in your hands and feet. If you pay attention to me I shall make you happy and bring you with me." Having said all these things to me, he left me, and I began to make the Holy Hour, and I made It well. Scarcely had I knelt down when Jesus came and I conversed with Him for a little while. I asked Him where He had been. "I was near you," He answered.’

Against these assaults of the enemy, which became more and more frequent, God gave Gemma one particular help among others in St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Virgin. After one of these attacks, she invoked him. He appeared to her and said: 'If the temptation fills your heart with fear, and your soul is on the point of yielding to the enemy, have recourse to me, and then you can rest assured of victory.' On other occasions he appeared to her, and placing his hand on her head, made her say three times: ' From the snares of the Devil, deliver us, 0 Lord!' And thus she was freed from the temptation.

Even in her ecstasies she was subjected to these diabolical attacks, and the bystanders were often moved to pity and terror as she struggled against the Angel of Darkness.


This bitter and painful struggle lasted throughout the life of the Servant of God. But notwithstanding the astuteness of the enemy she was always victorious. He assailed her in every way. He attacked every virtue. He even appealed to that weakness in women which caused Eve to fall in the earthly paradise, for on one occasion he made it appear that there were about fifty children with candles in their hands around her bed, and that, led by a bishop, they bowed down and honored her. But this time the Devil suffered a complete defeat.

Later on we shall tell of the efforts the Devil made to disturb the last hours of Gemma's earthly life. Here we cannot omit to quote the hymn of thanksgiving she was heard to utter in ecstasy towards the end of her life, as she reflected on the battles she had fought and the victories she had gained.

‘I have begun to consider the great battles which with Thy aid I have won against the demon. They are so many! Is it possible, 0 Lord, that without Thy assistance I could have conquered in such violent conflicts? Who knows how many times my faith would have wavered, if You had not helped me. If You had not come to my aid, my hope and my charity would have grown weak. If You, the eternal Light, had not enlightened my intellect, it would have become obscured! And, 0 Jesus, how many times my love would have become weak, if You had not strengthened it with Thy caresses! And my will-the power of my soul which counts most-this will of mine would have become slothful many times, if You had not come with Thy fire to inflame it. I acknowledge that all my victories were the work of Thy infinite love." [Lettere ed estasi, p. 209.]



The life of Blessed Gemma Galgani is full of the most surprising marvels. To confound the pride of mankind in this age of positivism, God has been pleased to allow Himself to be glorified in the humble Virgin of Lucca. And it is necessary to go far back in the history of Christian holiness to find souls as privileged as she was.

In the preceding pages we have already mentioned some of these marvels. Other extraordinary things have only been touched upon in passing, as it were. And so as not to weary the reader, we have not lingered over useless details.

The raising of a Servant of God to the honours of the altars certainly does not imply the recognition of such supernatural gifts; this is a secure principle, beyond all discussion. Supernatural phenomena have no essential relation to sanctity or to the virtues that constitute sanctity. They are a free gift of God who, in the designs of His Providence, may grant them even to those who merit them least. When the Church glorifies one of her children she presents him or her to us not only for our admiration, but also for our imitation. And because the Christian virtues are the foundation of all sanctity, she is on the look-out for them more than for anything else. As the Church has declared in proclaiming the heroicity of her virtues, this foundation was most solid in Blessed Gemma.

But in proclaiming the heroic nature of her virtues, the Sovereign Pontiff made no pronouncement about the supernatural phenomena. The Decree which gave her the right to be called Venerable was concerned with the virtues practiced by her, and with nothing else. The Holy Father, nevertheless, referred to ' the summits exceedingly high and difficult of ascent,' adding that the virtues of which the Decree speaks were the base upon which were raised these ' summits exceedingly high and difficult of ascent,' and that ' around the foot of these dizzy heights, the familiar plain stretched out smilingly.'

The Decree declared that Blessed Gemma ' lived on the earth with the \body whilst her soul was even then a citizen of Heaven; so great indeed was the ardor of the charity that was drawing this most innocent maiden to God, that she seemed freed from the burden of her body, already a stranger to the passing things of this world.' This is more than enough to give Gemma a place among those fortunate souls whose conversation is in Heaven, and who can say: 'Now I no longer live, but Christ liveth in me.' These words describe the life of the Seraphim before the throne of God-the Seraphim who, according to St. Gregory, burn with an incomparable love. It is not astonishing, therefore, that' freed from the burden of her body,' Gemma should have been rapt into ecstasies.' [L'Osservatore Romano, 1931, November 30-L'Eco di San Gabriele, XX, num. 1]

As we have begun, so we shall continue with confidence to treat of these supernatural gifts ' that were not lacking in the humble Servant of God.'


Very early in life Gemma began to have ecstasies. The reader will remember that when she entered the Giannini family these supernatural manifestations were already familiar to her, and also that if Monsignor Volpi insisted that Cecilia Giannini should keep Gemma with her as far as possible, it was precisely because these manifestations were making things in her own home more difficult every day.

In the Giannini household not much importance was attached at first to these extraordinary happenings. I t was thought that they were the result of some form of illness. As the reader will remember, Chevalier Matthew took her into the family out of charity. The first to realize that Gemma was receiving extraordinary graces was Cecilia Giannini, and there began from that moment the latter's great mission in life-a mission under the direction of Monsignor Volpi and later of Father Germanus, to protect Gemma and to defend the precious gifts God had deigned to bestow upon her.

Following Father Germanus, the witnesses in the Processes declared that Gemma's ecstasies w-ere of several kinds, namely, the small, the great and the extraordinary . We have already spoken of the extraordinary ecstasies. They happened twice a week, on Thursday at about eight o'clock in the evening until about three o'clock on Friday afternoon. They also happened irregularly at other times during the year. They came on here- these periodic ecstasies -mostly during the evening meal. Their approach could be perceived from her profound recollection. Then she unobtrusively got up from her place and retired to her room. In a few minutes she was on her knees with her hands joined, her eyes raised towards Heaven, and completely wrapped out of her senses. When the ecstatic rapture overtaking her made itself felt more strongly she would place herself upon her bed, and then they would find her, as a rule, in a sitting posture, wrapt in ecstasy. These ecstasies lasted ordinarily for an hour, and among the extraordinary things that happened during them was her participation in the sufferings of the Sacred Passion.

The ecstasies called great, did not last as long. On these occasions she was also completely rapt out of her senses. They took place mostly in the morning at Mass, or during visits to the Blessed Sacrament at Forty Hours, or on similar occasions. The return of her senses was spontaneous, and according to the witnesses, it was very pleasant to watch her wake up out of an ecstasy. She seemed like one who on finishing a conversation with one person, turned smilingly to speak to another. Sometimes she covered her eyes with her hands as if repeating to herself the words of St. Ignatius: 'Oh how uninviting the earth is to one whose gaze is fixed on Heaven! '

The little ecstasies were, on the other hand, very frequent, often occurring several times a day, and they happened in an altogether spontaneous and simple manner. Necessarily this meant that she was somewhat rapt out of her senses. The visible world disappeared from her view and she became profoundly recollected. Without any movement whatsoever preceding or accompanying this flight of her spirit, she was in Heaven, and the bystanders could see this from the way she fixed her bright eyes upwards or towards the point of the vision.

Therefore in the ecstasies that were of short duration and, for the most part, noticeable, only the loss of the sense of touch was complete, and consequently she could while in this state write letters, engage in spiritual conferences, and read the breviary. This is attested to by Father Germanus, who wrote:

‘Once we were sitting at table; Gemma at one side with her breviary in her hand, and I at the other. We recited alternately and she read the lessons of the nocturns and answered the responsories and versicles with admirable exactness, turning over the pages regularly. But how could she do this? I confess that I have never been able to understand it. She was in ecstasy and dead to every impression of touch. Though she used her eyes when reading, yet she was quite insensible to the heat of the candle when I held it close to them, as I have done repeatedly. During this devout recital of the Office, she was unable to see or hear anything else; no sooner was it stopped for any reason, than she returned to the use of her senses, to lose them again on resuming the Divine Praises where they had been inter-rupted.' [Life of Gemma Galgani, by Father Germanus, C.P., Chap. XXIV.]

This ecstatic state might occur in Gemma at any place or time, even when she least expected it. As a rule, however, she had a "presentiment of its approach. She then endeavored to distract her attention or at least to withdraw so that others would not perceive it. Cecilia Giannini remembered that Gemma often asked her to sing or talk to her, in order to distract her mind.

And certainly it did not take much to wrap into ecstasy one who could say of herself: 'I have no other thought in my mind but the thought- of Jesus.' She considered herself guilty of the gravest fault if she forgot the presence of God even for a moment. Often she had to do violence to herself to resist the impulses of love she experienced. 'If you knew,' she wrote to Father Germanus, 'how I have to resist myself when I am with people and they speak of Jesus, of Heaven or of similar things.

‘Sometimes I am compelled to hide myself; often I have to ask the person who is speaking to change the subject, otherwise I should run the risk of dying even ... ' Brother Famiano testified that one day when speaking to her about the Good Thief he repeated the words spoken by Jesus: 'This day You shall be with Me in Paradise,' and immediately Gemma was rapt into ecstasy.

Gemma's life can be described as one long ecstasy. Her adopted mother deposed: 'I can say that Gemma's life, at least that part of it which she passed . with me, was like a vision or a continual ecstasy.' Monsignor Moreschini deposed substantially the same thing: 'All that was necessary to make her go into ecstasy was to pray or to listen to holy conversation, especially about the Sacred Passion of Jesus Christ.' Certainly it can be said that Gemma's conversation was in Heaven.

We shall now quote the descriptions of Gemma in ecstasy, given by witnesses in the Processes. The first is that of Chevalier Matthew Giannini, the head of the fortunate family that gave her a home:

‘The ecstasies I saw always occurred in one of the rooms, but not always in the same room or in the same place. Sometimes they happened when she was on her knees before the Crucifix, sometimes when she was in bed, sometimes even when she was seated in a chair. Ordinarily, however, she knelt erect, her head held up, her hands joined with fingers interlacing, and her eyes either wide open or half closed. I never saw her raised above the earth. She was so absolutely without movement as to seem rigid. She never blinked, even when hands were moved rapidly in front of her eyes, which were always like glass, or when a lighted candle was held close to them. They were fixed upon the Crucifix, if there was one, or towards a point where it seemed the person stood with whom she was in communication. Whilst she was in this state Gemma appeared not to participate in or even to hear our conversation, and I am certain she did not hear what was said. We spoke in a low voice, it is true, but our words were quite audible, and if she had not been in ecstasy she could have heard us and even seen us.'

From the deposition of Joseph Giannini, Matthew's son, we take the following particulars:

‘When she was in ecstasy she sat in an easy chair with her head raised slightly and resting on the back of the chair. Her body seemed like a laid-out corpse, but her legs were gathered in under the chair and completely covered by her dress. Her hands were motionless, or at least I do not remember ever to have seen them move. The chair was a comfortable one, with a rather long seat and a high back, so that she could lie down almost at full length upon it.

‘. . . The impression she gave me was that of a dead person, but nevertheless she used to speak, and had, as I myself have seen, her eyes open, and raised towards Heaven. Although they were fixed and never blinked, they were alive and seemed to see something or someone invisible to us .... Her body rested peacefully. There was no discharge of saliva from her lips, no clenching of teeth, nor any convulsive motion. I never touched her, but my Aunt told me that her body always had the usual warmth. My Aunt never massaged her, or applied perfumed spirits or hot foments. She told me that in her ecstasies there were no convulsive movements, that on the contrary she was most peaceful, just as if she was asleep. She used to speak in her ecstasies, but in a voice that was scarcely audible, being always in conversation with the Blessed Virgin or our Divine Lord. Gemma's countenance often changed its expression, according to the subject of the conversation, or the answers she received. Sometimes she was very pale; sometimes very flushed.'

The deposition of Mother Gemma Giannini is substantially the same. She also records that on one occasion she took Cecilia Giannini's place near Gemma. She saw two luminous rays reflected in her eyes, and felt that Jesus, to Whom Gemma was speaking, was close by, and fell down upon her knees. This was also the effect which others experienced when present at Gemma's ecstasies. Thus the priest Agrimonti often assisted at them on his knees and in tears.


Taking into consideration Gemma's entire life, we must conclude that the ecstasies described in the Processes were divine in origin. Many things point to this: her great fear of deceiving or of being deceived; the progress she made in virtue after these extraordinary manifestations, especially in humility, charity and obedience; her perfect tranquility of mind on every occasion; the judgment of learned men who saw them and who have left sworn testimonies concerning them. And these are the criteria laid down by theologians for the discernment of true from false ecstasies, visions and similar phenomena.

As regards the exercise of the above-mentioned virtues, we have already said enough to dispense us from enlarging upon them further. However, it is delightful to read that a command from one who had the right to her obedience was sufficient to awake her from her ecstasy. When Gemma was asked to explain this, she answered: 'Jesus said to me:

"You must go.'" And that ended matters.

Concerning Gemma's humility we shall add one fact. A nun who disapproved of her conduct and of all the extraordinary things that happened to her, exhorted her openly to change her mode of life and think more seriously of her spiritual welfare. Had Gemma been less humble than she was, she would certainly have resented this advice. However, this is how she wrote of this matter to Father Germanus :

‘There is a certain good religious here, who from time to time sends me a few affectionate words. She likes me very much, and from her words I gather that she also knows me well. Yes, Father, she knows me well. But you do not know me. You are mistaken, for the things that happen do not come from God, but from the Devil. Pray to Jesus for me; for light, for light, Father. It is all false devotion. I see it all only too well; it is all false devotion. Hide me away from the world, and shut me up where no one will see me. . . . I want to get away from this sort of life and save my soul.'


There is one thing for which we ought to be very grateful to Father Germanus, his instruction to the Giannini family to record what Gemma said while she was in ecstasy. Thus we have obtained a marvelous treasure of heavenly wisdom that bears comparison ' with all that is sublime and beautiful in the writings of the Saints, with the colloquies of St. Augustine, the meditations of St. Bernard and St. Anselm, the mystical treatises of St. John of the Cross and St. Theresa of Jesus, and with the ecstasies of St. Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi; everywhere and always there is great precision of ideas, the theology, whether dogmatic or mystical, being exact on all occasions. What is particularly admirable is the ingenuousness and childlike simplicity which is revealed in every phrase of the Ecstatic of Lucca.' [Positio super revisione scriptorum, p. 47.]

By this expedient, the truth of what Gemma, after an ecstasy, saw and heard, could be exactly established, for, being under an obligation to send an account of her ecstasies to her director, these accounts were compared with what had been taken down during the ecstasies, and were always found to agree perfectly.

With regard to this matter, it is well to quote a deposition of Mother Gemma Giannini, who was among the most assiduous in writing down these colloquies:

‘As far as we could judge, Gemma was never aware of the fact that we used to keep an account of what she uttered in ecstasy, because we took care to be out of the room when she returned to her senses. When she was in ecstasy there was no excess of any kind, neither of tears nor of laughter. She never did anything extravagantly unusual, or the least unedifying. She was always natural, and even when she had ecstasies that were more beautiful than usual, or saw apparitions that must have filled her with fervent enthusiasm, they had no observable effect upon her afterwards. During the ecstasies she was insensible and as it were dead to every impression, so that she gave no sign of feeling, even when as a test her head and forehead were pricked with pins. When the ecstasy was over she felt pain where she had been pricked, but she did not know why. After her ecstasies she was never so weak that she had to go to bed, and was able to undertake the household work as usual.'

The reader must pardon us for repeating what has been stated before, but we are most anxious to omit nothing that will help to place Gemma's ecstasies in their true light.

As mentioned before, these ecstasies began when Gemma was still in her own home, and reached their greatest development while she lived with the Gianninis. During her first stay at the Convent of the' Mantellate ' Nuns she had several. As she was not living within the enclosure but in the part reserved for outsiders, and was accustomed to spend most of her time in the Church, the nuns used to watch her from the grille in the hope of surprising her in ecstasy. On one occasion in order to assure themselves that she was in ecstasy, they had recourse to means that were certainly unusual. During the day from midday until one o'clock, Gemma used to perform her daily hour as guard to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and was as a rule in ecstasy. The nuns opened the door leading from their choir to the Church and seeing Gemma kneeling on one side of the altar of the Blessed Sacrament, in a posture that suggested that she was in ecstasy, they struck her over the shoulders with a long cane. 'We struck her as if striking a wall,' deposed Sister M. Julia of St. Joseph. But Gemma did not seem to feel the blows or awake from her ecstasy.


Levitation is a phenomenon sometimes associated with ecstasy. When it occurs, the body seems no longer subject to the laws of gravity, and is raised into the air. Father Germanus assures us that Gemma manifested this phenomenon, although rarely. The centre of attraction for Gemma in the Giannini household was a devotional Crucifix, almost life-size, that hung in the dining-room. Her heart on fire with love for her divine Spouse, she often drew near to kiss His feet. Sometimes, however, she longed to kiss the adorable side also. But how was she to reach it? At that moment she was seized by a rapture and found herself raised above the earth, her arms around the Crucifix.

One day in September, 1901, something more remarkable occurred. Gemma was preparing the table for dinner, but her heart being more than usually on fire with love, she could not keep her eyes away from the Crucifix. At length she could hold out no longer, and from her heart a cry arose : , 0 my Jesus, let me come to Thee; I am all on fire with thirst for Thy most precious Blood!' And behold, a marvel! Jesus detached an arm from the Cross and invited her to come to Him. She darted forward, and embraced her heavenly Spouse, and in His turn He embraced her; she placed her lips to that sacred side and drank copiously from that divine fountain, and all the while her feet were resting as if upon a cloud. Father Germanus learned these extraordinary facts from Gemma herself.' [Life of Gemma Galgani, by Father Germanus, C.P., Chap. XXIV.]


Ecstasies of their nature include visions, and Gemma was abundantly favored with them and also with apparitions. 'It was enough to see her during these happy moments to come to the conclusion that she was in affectionate relations with God,' Chevalier Matthew Giannini testified. Aunt Cecilia, who was so much in Gemma's confidence, declared that the visions that accompanied her ecstasies were for the most part of Jesus suffering with the Cross on His shoulders, but often they were of Jesus in the act of pointing to His Sacred Heart, or of Jesus as a beautiful child. There were also apparitions of the Blessed Virgin. St. Gabriel, the Passionist, appeared to her frequently, and St. Paul of the Cross on several occasions.

Her visions of her Guardian Angel were marked by an extraordinary familiarity. The Angels of Heaven were indeed on intimate terms with this Angel of earth. But it was her Guardian Angel who was nearly always visibly present. I t is necessary to go back to St. Frances of Rome, to St. Rose of Lima, to Blessed Crescentia Hoss, to find examples like the extraordinary intimacy that existed between Gemma and her Angel. She said of Jesus one day: , He makes my Angel always stay with me.' Her Guardian encouraged her, became her master in the spiritual life, and if she sometimes did not act with the perfection expected, he reproved her. Thus Gemma besought her Angel: ' If I am sometimes wicked, dear Angel, do not be angry with me, because I do want to please you.' She was allowed to see him, now floating in the air with unfolded wings and hands outstretched over her, or joined in an attitude of prayer; now on his knees beside her. They prayed together; they competed with one another as to who should be the first to utter a favorite ejaculation: Live, Jesus! Father Germanus declared that every time Gemma raised her eyes to her Angel, she was rapt in ecstasy, and that no matter how often she looked, even for the shortest space of time, the same phenomenon occurred.

The lessons Gemma learned from this heavenly master were many. Sometimes he told her to get pen and paper and to sit at the table, and then standing close by her side, he dictated such maxims as these: ' Remember, my child, that whoever loves Jesus speaks little and suffers much. I command you, in the name of Jesus, never to give your opinion unless it is asked, never to hold to your opinion but to yield. When you have committed any fault, acknowledge it immediately, and do not wait until you are taxed with it. Remember to guard your eyes, for the eyes that are mortified will look upon the beauty of Heaven.'

The Guardian Angel was her guide and companion. Thus one day, when she had stayed too long in the Church, he came to warn her and accompany her home. It was her Angel who came to solace and help her after she had been beaten by the demons; it was he who blessed her when she was going to bed, who watched over her virginal sleep, who awakened her in the morning in time to receive Jesus in Holy Communion.'

But the following incident has an inimitable beauty all its own. One day at two o'clock Gemma arrived at the door of the Convent of the ' Mantellate' Nuns, and asked for the Mother Prioress, who on coming down to the parlour was surprised to see Gemma alone, this being contrary to the orders of Monsignor Volpi, who had said that she should be accompanied on her way to and from the convent. When the Mother Prioress reproved her, saying: ' Is this the way you are obedient? ' Gemma answered: 'Do not scold me, Mother, because I am not alone.' On being asked, however, whom she had with her, she replied ingenuously: 'My Guardian Angel.' 'Let me see him,' said the Mother Prioress. Gemma, with incomparable artlessness, opened the door and made a sign as if inviting a person standing outside to enter. Then she said to the Mother Prioress: 'Behold him.' [Life of Gemma Galgani, by Father Germanus, C.P., Chap. XX.]

Naturally, the nun could see nobody. However, she asked Gemma how he had accompanied her on the way, and she answered: 'He had his wings outstretched over my head, protecting me.' On principle Father Germanus considered this familiarity excessive, but in the end he gave in and wrote to her: ' May Jesus be always with you and your Angel always at your side.'

But very often other heavenly spirits joined with the Guardian Angel in visiting their angelic sister. Then the competition in repeating 'Viva Gesu ' must have grown more intense, and ended, to use her own phrase, in all being rapt in Jesus, that is, in the loss of mind and heart in the immense sea of the Divinity.


We shall proceed with our account of the other marvels which God wrought in this angelic virgin of Lucca. The reader already knows that Gemma's heart, wounded by the Stigmata, often poured forth blood copiously. But there are other extraordinary things concerning her heart which call for admiration.

Gemma lived on her love for God. Every increase in this love, far from satisfying her ardent desires, did but inflame them the more. But she realized her own powerlessness. Thus she confessed : ' There are days when Jesus is very close to me, and makes Himself felt in my heart; then my poor little heart becomes excited and makes me suffer incredibly and then my thoughts flyaway to Heaven. . . . If I had a heart large enough, where Jesus could remain at His ease, I should never feel this pain.' She would have liked to love Jesus more than did the very Seraphim, and in one of her ecstasies she was heard to say : ' Angels of Paradise, you are not the only ones whom Jesus has told to love Him; He has also told me to love Him; you are not the only ones He loves; He has also told me that He loves me. . . . 0 my heart, make more room, expand wide.'

Gemma's love was so vehement that it manifested itself externally. Her heart was like a furnace, so that one could not put a hand near it without feeling the unaccustomed heat. Even the flesh over her heart looked as if it had been scorched by a fire. This phenomenon, by no means unique in the history of Christian hagiography, has been attested to in the Processes.

There are other marvels mentioned by witnesses in the Processes. The love that burned within her made her heart throb so violently that the benches on which she sat or the bed on which she lay trembled, and even the bedclothes immediately over her heart. were affected by the vehement movement underneath. 'It seems to me that my heart will jump out of my breast,' she said; 'how I should like to have a hand there sometimes to hold it back!' However, Gemma did not appear to know that the hand that tried to press back her heart would feel itself repulsed. Aunt Cecilia often placed her hand over Gemma's heart, sometimes when trying to prevent a spitting of blood that occurred on these occasions. 'It seems to me,' she said, 'that there was a bellows under her ribs.' Gemma's heart was indeed small, as she had complained, and by its dilation, produced a curvature of three ribs, a prodigy the truth of which could be established by more than one- person.

All these marvels. wrought in the heart of Gemma made her, as it had made St. Paul of the Cross who also experienced them, burn with an unquenchable desire for God. Here are some of the outpourings of her heart to her director :

‘0 Father, my heart is so small that it wants to enlarge itself, but cannot find room….it would like . . . but I am little, Jesus is infinite. . . . Listen: do you think that I suffered more when, as it seemed to me, I was suffering in my head, my hands, my feet and my whole body, or now when I am not suffering, yet suffering because I cannot suffer? Let me know. This morning at about ten o'clock, my heart was full of longing I felt that I was going out of myself. To the suffering of my heart there succeeded great pain in all my limbs; but worse than all is the sorrow I feel for my sins. Oh how great that sorrow is! If it was greater I could not survive, nor could I survive, it seems to me, the violent throbbing I experienced. My little heart cannot contain itself and has begun to cast up blood in great quantities.'

She wrote on another occasion:

‘If Jesus continues to act as He does, I do not know what will happen. He is absenting Himself ever more and more, and I am looking for Him ever more and more, and He is leaving me always more alone and unable to do anything good. Then I exert myself, my desires grow warmer, and then that affair of the ribs happens, and I begin to spit blood. You will see what will happen. If Jesus continues to act in this way, and keeps going further away from me, I shall not be able to bear it and I shall die.'

In another letter she confided:

‘For the past ten days or so, I have felt a mysterious fire in the region of my heart, and I do not understand what it means. At first I did not heed it because it was of little or no inconvenience to me. But to-day is the third day when it is so great that I cannot bear it.

It would need ice to extinguish it. I t is very annoying, for it prevents me from sleeping or eating. It is a mysterious fire that shows itself externally even, and the flesh is somewhat scorched. You understand, it is not a fire that torments me, but one that consumes me.'

And again she writes:

‘Yesterday evening before going to supper, I said a few prayers, among which was this ejaculation: "Grant, 0 Lord, that from this frugal supper I may pass to the possession of infinite joy." I shut my eyes for a few minutes to think of it, and then I felt myself pushed towards Jesus, and my heart began to throb. And this always happens every time I think of Jesus, and particularly when it seems to me that Jesus is inviting me to receive Him, or when He says-and it seems to me that He often does say so-that He is coming to repose in my heart.'


But the inventory of the precious gifts bestowed by Jesus upon His chosen spouse is far from being complete. We' shall mention a few more. Thus she sometimes perspired copiously, and no natural cause could be assigned for this phenomenon. The following fact was deposed by Cecilia Giannini:

'One morning we were at the "Rosa" and received Holy Communion. After a little we went home, and I found that she was wringing wet allover. I made her change her clothes, but after a while she was in the same condition. This happened several times. She was helping me with a little work, but she was nevertheless so very silent and unusually recollected that I knew that her thoughts were elsewhere, probably on the Holy Communion she had just received. All the same, she was doing her work very carefully, without breaking anything. The second time it happened I scolded her, saying: "This is not perspiration; you have splashed water all over yourself." And I said this because I believed that she had carried up the water for the rooms. "I did not carry it up," she answered, "ask Zita." Zita was one of the servants. Gemma's words "ask Zita" were in reply to my question: "If you did not bring it up, who did?" Then she added: "Not to prove that I am right, but for your own satisfaction, send Basil to the ' Rosa ' to look at the place where I was after Communion." (Basil was one of the workmen.) She said nothing more. I went myself and looked where she had been kneeling, and saw that the spot was very wet. I came back immediately, but I said nothing. It was Gemma who first spoke. "Do not go away," she said after a while, " because it must happen in your presence." "What must happen? " I asked. She did not answer. We were sitting side by side, working. Gemma went into ecstasy, and I watched her. She was in her accustomed attitude and began to perspire so freely that large drops fell down upon the floor from her hands and feet. After it was over I made her change her clothes. She did not want to do this, but sacrificed her will to obedience. This perspiration was similar to that which naturally comes out when one works hard. As far as I remember it was not Summer weather, and besides, she never perspired as we did. I never heard her make a remark about the weather being hot. She had these sweats on several occasions; in fact, very often. Father Germanus knew about them before I did, and told me that I was to see that she always changed her clothes after she had them.

It seems to me, but I do not remember and I may make a mistake, that these happened in 1902, and not throughout her life. I used to think that they were consequences of her great sorrow for her sins, for she used to say to me: "I feel such great contrition for my sins that at times I perspire."’

Among the other gifts which God deigned to shower upon His Servant we must mention the sweet odour that was diffused by her person -an odor instilling a love of virtue in all who were fortunate enough to experience it. Signora Justina Giannini attests: 'A certain distinguished and very religious person named Carlo de Nobili visited me when I was ill. He said: "I am always more than delighted to come to this house, because I am conscious of such an indescribably pleasant odor when Gemma is around.'"

That she was also favored by God with the gifts of prophecy and the discernment of hearts is easily deduced from the Processes. Thus when Signora Justina was so seriously ill that no hope Was held out for her, Gemma declared that she would be cured, but that she would always be afflicted with a slight indisposition. She told her Aunt Elisa that Euphemia Giannini would be a Passionist nun. This was a long time before Euphemia entered the convent. Euphemia herself did not hear of the prophecy until she was a nun. When Monsignor Volpi was Vicar-Capitular of the Archdiocese of Lucca, and was working to establish a foundation of the Passionist nuns in that city, Gemma told him to make haste because he had not much time to spare. And indeed in a short time he was transferred to the See of Arezzo. She often predicted the arrival at the Gianninis' (mentioning the exact hour) of Monsignor Tei, or Father Germanus, or of their letters. She prophesied her own death, a long time before, about six years in fact, and indicated the circumstances that were to accompany it.

We cannot resist mentioning a prophecy that has been fulfilled only in our day. Once when she was doing her hour on guard before the Blessed Sacrament, the Infant Jesus appeared to her, and among other things said: 'Assure your confessor that it is Jesus who speaks to you; and that through My operation within you, you will be a Saint, and work miracles, and be raised to the honors of the altars." [Letter to Monsignor Volpi. See Positio super revisione scriptorum, p. 90.]

To a child as innocent and ingenuous as Gemma Jesus could safely reveal such secrets, without fear of exposing her to the danger of pride. However, there have been other Saints to whom a similar revelation was made: for instance, St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Benedict Joseph Labre.


Thus Gemma's soul, great yet little, resting in the arms of her Divine Spouse, mounted the steps of the spiritual life, to the very summit. Father Germanus gives two long chapters of his biography to a detailed account of this journey to perfect union with God through unaccustomed ways. Gemma herself was once heard to utter in ecstasy these burning . words: '0 Jesus, must it be always "daughter"? Must it be nothing more? Yet there is something I should like, 0 Jesus! Yes, I mean it; but it would seem to be too much for me, 0 Jesus. Or shall I say what it is I desire? I desire, 0 Jesus, I desire to be Thy spouse. Yes, Thy spouse, oh Jesus!'

Jesus heard her prayer, and united Himself to her with the indissoluble bond of love. 'And,' says Father Germanus, 'these mystical espousals were not to be without pledges. Jesus revealed them to her as He had also revealed them to St. Catherine, St. Paul of the Cross and other Saints, when He appeared to her under the form of a beautiful Child held in the arms of His Mother who took a ring from His finger and placed it upon Gemma's.'

The reader must not think that because of these extraordinary favors Gemma was living in an ocean of spiritual delights. One must have forgotten all we have said up to the present, or be ignorant of the most elementary notions of the spiritual life, to come to this conclusion. The truth is, the heartbreaking, yet resigned, lamentations of Gemma in ecstasy drew tears from the eyes of all who heard them. Jesus was in hiding, and her heart was bursting with desire for Him. 'Father, I am alone,' she wrote to her director on one of these occasions . • I am abandoned, but as I desire suffering, no one can console me .... Jesus is no longer with me. Tell Jesus that I am His and that I will be His always. If He avoids me, I will always follow Him. But I hope that He will come back, will He ?' And on another occasion she wrote: .' Jesus does not want me, He rejects me, yet I will seek Him always.' [Life of Gemma Galgani, by Father Germanus, C.P., Chapters XXIV-XXV.]

Towards the end of her life Jesus told Gemma of the greater spiritual progress she would make, and of the new sorrows still to be borne. This is what she wrote to her confessor: 'Monsignor, one morning after I received Holy Communion, it seemed to me that Jesus spoke these words: " Already your confessor must have perceived that I desire you to pass through all the grades of the mystical life. The first part of the way is now over, and soon we shall be at the end of that which is called the way of sorrow and love. Then the way of great sorrow will be entered upon, and finally the dark night of the soul will come, and this will be the .second and last part of your life, and at the end of it, My child, I shall take you to Heaven." [Lettere ed estasi, p. 14]



[All quotations in this chapter are taken from Lettere ed estasi unless otherwise stated.]

Gemma loved the Queen of Heaven ardently. As the reader will remember, she took her as her Mother when her earthly mother died. It was on the advice, at least implied, of the latter that Gemma did so, for a little statue of Our Lady of Sorrows before which she had learned to say her prayers, was her mother's last gift to her, and she brought it with her to the Gianninis' and treasured it until her death.

When Gemma was miraculously cured of her serious illness, she heard Jesus say: ' My child, to the graces you have received this morning, others still greater will be added. I shall always be with you. I shall be as a Father to you, and she will be your Mother,' and He indicated the little statue of Our Lady of Sorrows. But it was not then that she thought of taking the Blessed Virgin for her Mother. From her earliest years she used to invoke her as her 'Mom in Heaven,' her' Mom in Paradise,' her' dear Mom.' And in moments of deep sorrow when her soul was filled with grief, she had another title for her, ' Mater orphanorum,' and the realization of being alone in the world and of being unable to count upon any but Her love, filled Gemma's heart with an immense confidence in Her intercession. And the Blessed Virgin did indeed become a Mother to the orphan, and demonstrated in many ways Her great and tender affection for Her child.

To convey some idea of Gemma's love for the Blessed Virgin we shall quote some passages taken from her marvelous writings, as well as some of the outbursts that came spontaneously from her lips while she was in ecstasy.

'After Holy Communion a little while ago, Mom called me and said that to-day was her feastday. She was dressed differently. She was no longer in black, but in white, and she caressed me tenderly. She pitied me because of my sins, as was evident from the way she looked at me. And do you know what I do when I am before her, and before Jesus? I kneel down, and if it is Jesus I kiss His feet, but trembling as it were, and sometimes in spirit only, because when I suffer I cannot move; but if it is Mom I run to her and kiss her hands.'

‘Tomorrow is the feast of the Blessed Virgin. You know I love her very much, this Mom. And if I do not love her enough, she ought to obtain for me a heart more on fire, and then bring me to Jesus in Heaven. I love Jesus and my Mom; I am always thinking of her, and I do not want to lose any opportunity of pleasing her and Jesus. If I am to live for a little while longer I desire to be always near them.'

'This morning after Holy Communion, I was thinking: "Oh how great must have been the Blessed Virgin's sorrow after Jesus was born, as she reflected that He would one day be crucified!" What must have been the agonies of her heart! How often she must have wept! And she never complained. Poor Mom! And when they crucified Him, her heart was pierced through and through with grief, because! know well that any harm that comes to a child in the presence of its parents, grieves the parents as much as the child. Therefore Mom was crucified together with Jesus. And yet she never complained. After these reflections I made the resolution not to complain about the way I have to live.'

‘Father, here we are in the month of May. I am thinking of the great favors I have received from Mom during the first years of my life, and I am ashamed that I have repaid with such little love the heart and the hand that showered them upon me. What is worse, I have returned her goodness with sin and ingratitude. Yes, Father, how often I have poured out the ardent desires of my agitated heart before a picture of my Mother, and how often I have been consoled! But what were my thanks to her? Father, I can truly say that in the greatest trials of my life, I remember that though I have no longer a mother on earth, I have a much more compassionate one in Heaven. ... This is the time, Father, when the Mother of Jesus ought to make it clear that she is still my Mom. The month of May is for me the most beautiful month of the year, the month of graces .... '

'Father, father, how wonderful it is to receive Holy Communion in company with my Mother of Paradise! I did so yesterday, the 8th of May. I had never received Holy Communion in her company before. Father, do you know in what consisted all the outpourings of my heart during those moments? In these words: " 0 Mom! Mom, how I love to call thee Mom! My heart, you see, exults just the same as it does when I think of Jesus." To which she replies: "You love to call me Mom, but I love to call thee child." These words she repeated at least three times during the day. It was like Heaven when I heard her speak these sweet words to me. . . . Let us reflect together, Father. Is not the feast of my heavenly Mom the most beautiful of all the days of the year? On that day my soul is filled with deep peace and I forget the world and its storms. 'On that day even the wicked remember that we have a mother in Heaven, full of tender love for us and solicitous for our welfare, and that we are her children. Even those who do not see her with bodily eyes but only look upon a simple image of her, cannot help feeling in their hearts sentiments of love, gratitude and confidence. Yes, the feast of my Mom is for me a day of greater peace and of greater love, and for all, a day of sanctification.'

'Father, though I am resigned, yet how can I live without Jesus! If I could only please His Mother so that at least she would come instead of Jesus! Oh, if I could only become worthy to be her child! If you knew how many times this good mother turns away her eyes from my sins, how frequently she acts towards me as a loving Mom! If Jesus will persist in hiding Himself I must have my Mother; I want her at least to listen to me. Even if Jesus does not want me any more and I must live without Him, I cannot do without my Mother. Mom, my Mother, I love thee so much, but I don't know how to show thee that I love thee.'

‘I want to tell you another thing. The thought of my Mother is so deep in my mind that it seems to me that I can see her weeping as she opens her arms to receive Jesus when He was taken down from the Cross. Poor Mother! And it seems to me that she looks at me and says: "It is you who have reduced Jesus to this state!" Jesus has left me because He can no longer put up with my indifference, and now my Mom reproves me. What is to be done? Mom, Mother of mercy, show all thy mercy towards me, and bring me to Jesus. What other consolation canst You afford me other than this than You obtains mercy for me from Jesus. Do it for me, Mom, please! Jesus will grant it, if You only ask. From thee I expect everything.'

'Father, isn't Mom wonderfully beautiful! In the past it seemed to me that I saw her often, only to desire all the more to see her again. Her beauty is so great that it cannot be. described. .The Eternal Father has crowned her With the crown of holy love. And if you saw how beautiful that crown of glory is! The base, being of the brightest gold, seems to shoot forth flames. There are precious gems in it, and these are all the virtues. And there are many pearls. She was crowned with the crown of wisdom, and adorned with every splendor. I cannot describe it. There was a special sign in her beautiful crown, which meant that she was the dispensatrix of the treasures of Paradise. 0 Father, oh my Father! '

‘Mother, do You remember the day You didst ascend to Heaven and didst carry my heart away with thee? Keep it always up there with thee, for when I am near thee I am in possession of all things. Do You think that a child can get on without its Mother? . . . 0 my Mother, I desire to be always near thee, I don't want you ever to go away again. Oh, take me with thee to Heaven! I cannot live without thee! Do You see, how You make me suffer? . . . 0 Mom, if You art a Mother full of pity, why do You abandon thy child who loves thee? Without thee who will listen to my prayers ? Without thee I am poor and helpless. 0 my Mother, why do You leave me? . . . 0 Queen of Heaven, who didst take from creatures the noblest part of their love, You have also snatched away my heart, and now that it has become heavenly and has ceased to be earthly because of thy embraces, You will not give it back to me; You art jealous of my love. Oh Mom, do not leave me; I cannot do without thee! '

‘I am thine, Mother Mary, I am thine! You had pity on my great sins. I am thy child; Jesus says so. Therefore, do I not also belong to Thee, Jesus? Think of me, Jesus! Do You not want me any more, 0 Jesus? Do not abandon me ; help me in the hour of trial. 0 my Mother, what a favour I have received, for Jesus has given me to thee. Mom, come as Jesus used to come, nearly every day. Oh, I know how a mother acts towards her children, so treat me just like that. But who am I that I should deserve such favors?....Yet You art my only hope; if You will not listen to me, must I give up hope? Listen, Jesus has given thee my soul, and I have offered thee my heart! '

‘0 my Mother, how my heart is filled with pity every time I see thee at the foot of the Cross! But do You know what my greatest sorrow is? It is because I cannot offer thee any comfort, and because I have been the cause of thy sorrow. If my little sufferings are of any consolation to thee, accept them, 0 my Mother, and tell Jesus to hide them in His Heart. Oh yes, Jesus will accept them, and will not despise them .... '

The following account of two visions of the Blessed Virgin was sent by Gemma to her spiritual director:

‘I was lying down on my bed but was not yet asleep, when I seemed to see a beautiful lady coming towards me. . . . I called out to Aunt, but I do not know whether she came or not, for I was immediately rapt out of my senses and was no longer in the world….My heavenly Mother was looking at me and smiling.... She loves me very much, and told me that she had come to take my little bouquet (of virtues). Do you understand? But she found me so poor, so poor that she encouraged me to practise virtue, particularly humility and obedience. Then she spoke a few words I do not know the meaning of. "My child, you must become refined, perfect in spirit, and quickly." What happened to me, I don't know, but that word " quickly " caused such a violent movement in my heart, that my Mother placed her beautiful hand upon it. I could not speak, but interiorly I asked her for an answer; I opened my eyes and questioned her with them. "Tell the Father, that if he does not provide for you, I shall soon take you to Heaven . . . quicker than he thinks, we shall be together." She left me with my soul in an ocean of joy. 0 Father, you know how the world appears after such experiences! I do not know whether you have experienced it. I besought her for a little health, and to allow me to live a little longer. She consented, saying: "Tell the Father that I grant you what you ask, but that if he does not provide for you, I shall retract my promise, and take you away with me." ,

This vision refers to Gemma's religious vocation, and to the proposed establishment of the Passionist nuns at Lucca. Gemma did recover her health, but the foundation of the Convent being delayed, she got sick again and died.

The second vision is, to use the words of a very devout writer, ‘simply exquisite.' [La Madre mia, G. Schryvers, C. SS. R., Marietti, Torino Roma, 3rd ed.,p. 82.] We shall describe it in Gemma's own words:

‘Who ever would have imagined that my heavenly Mother would come to see me? I myself did not dare to expect it, because I believed my wicked conduct was too great an obstacle. But she had pity on me, and after I had been interiorly recollected for a little while, there happened what often happens, I was rapt out of myself and then, I found myself, it seems to me, before our Lady of Sorrows. What an abundance of joy I then felt within my heart! Explain it who can! I t appeared to me that after a few moments of great emotion, she took me on her lap, and making me lean my head upon her shoulder, held me in that position for some time. My heart was full of contentment; I felt I was in want of nothing. "Am I the only one you love? " she asked me from time to time. "Oh, no," I answered, "I love another person more than thee." "And who is it ? " she said, pretending not to know. "It is somebody who is very dear to me, dearer than anything else in the world. I love this person so much that I would even give my life for Him this instant." "But tell me who he is?" she asked again. "If You wert here yesterday evening," I replied, " You wouldst have seen Him with me. But He does not come often enough. I go to Him every day, and I should go oftener, if I could. But do You know, Mom, why He- acts like that? It is because He wants to see whether I shall sti11love Him when He is far away. But the farther He is away, the more my heart longs for Him." "Tell me who He is," she repeated. "No, I shall not tell thee His name. But He is beautiful and like unto thee, and His hair is the same color as Thine." And then it seemed to me that my Mother caressed me, saying: "But, my child, whom do you mean?" "Do You not understand?" I exclaimed. "I mean Jesus, I am speaking of Jesus," and I repeated it more earnestly. She smiled at me and pressing me to her, said: "Love Him indeed ; love Him with all your heart; but love Him alone." " Never fear," I said to her, " no one in this world will ever share my affections; they belong to Jesus alone." She caressed me again, and I thought she kissed me on the forehead. Then I awoke, that is, I came out of the ecstasy, and I found myself stretched on the floor with the Crucifix near me.' [Diario, September 1, 1900.]


Gemma's love for Jesus was directed in a singular way towards the Blessed Sacrament. We do not intend to repeat here what we have already said about this subject. It can be summed up- in one phrase. The Eucharist, Holy Communion, was Gemma's life, and her adorations were for the most part one continual ecstasy. The fire of Divine Love enclosed in the Eucharist, darted out and touched her heart, burning her so deeply at times that she was compelled to run away from that Divine Presence. The other marvelous effects produced in Gemma by the reception of Holy Communion, we have also touched upon. During the period already referred to when she subsisted on Holy Communion alone, except for an occasional drink of water, that is, from Pentecost to the end of June, 1902, any food she took through obedience, was immediately thrown up again, often accompanied with blood. Nevertheless, Gemma enjoyed the very best health during this time. However, at the end of that month she heard Jesus say: 'From now on I shall no longer sustain you,' and from that hour the prodigy ceased. She began to eat again, even more than before, according to Cecilia Giannini. But, nevertheless, she commenced to waste away visibly from that time until her death.

Here we shall set down some of Gemma's transports of love towards Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament: , 0 Jesus, my only good, I am full of hunger for the Bread of life; I am athirst for Thy most precious Blood.'

‘I love a life of Faith, and I will repeat a thousand times that I prefer to receive Thee than to see Thee. But, tell me, 0 Lord, how am I to please Thee? Communicate to me Thy light, and Thy divine ardors.'

‘How sweet a thing it is, 0 Jesus, to receive Thee in Holy Communion! What consolation there is enclosed within Thy heart! Let me dwell there, oh Jesus, my only treasure . . . in Thy embrace I wish to die.'

‘It is almost a fortunate thing for me that I was born a sinner, for the veins of my Jesus are always open, ready to pour out that most precious Blood.' , It is possible that after receiving Thee, even once, all should not become enamored of Thee? '

‘Yes, 0 Jesus, there are happy moments on earth . . . 0 Jesus, Paradise of Charity, prodigy of Love! I am full of confusion at the thought of such graces. . . . I can almost say that You belong entirely to me.'

‘I am often asked what I do during all the time I spend with Jesus, and I answer: "What do a poor person do when received by a generous rich man?'"

‘Oh my Jesus, do You ask me what I desire? Life to revive me. First I should like to have Thee within my heart and to love Thee, and then to see Thee and possess Thee for ever. 0 infinite God, how do You show such liberality towards me ? Do You know what gives me strength to live? It is the thought of receiving Thee in Holy Communion….’

'I realize that You have not given to me the fugitive riches of the world, but You have bestowed true riches upon me-You have nourished me with the Incarnate Word. What would have become of me, if I had not directed all my tender affections towards the Sacred Host? . . .'

'One must learn to love. The school is the Supper Room, the Master is Jesus, and the Doctrine to be learned are His Flesh and Blood.'

‘Every morning I receive Holy Communion; it is the only consolation I have. Notwithstanding that I am nothing, and have nothing to offer Jesus, nevertheless I go to Him. I feel in great need, Father, of being re-invigorated with that sweet Food which Jesus gives to me. The love that Jesus shows me every morning, touches my heart and awakens all its affections, and then in those heavenly moments I make a thousand promises. I tell Jesus that all my love will be directed towards Him alone, and that if I do give a little of it 10 any creature, it will only be in order to love Him the more and make Him loved the more.'

‘Do you know what I want to thank Jesus for the most when I am in Paradise? For Holy Communion more than for anything else.'

'Father, Father, I cannot bear it any more! After Communion, no, I cannot bear to think of all that Jesus does for the least of His creatures, of how He manifests to me the splendours of His Heart in the prodigious abundance of His paternal love. o Father, if you also think of this you will not be able to bear the thought. And to think who I am ! I acknowledge that I am indeed a vile creature and the fruit of sin. Yet Jesus is good, too good; He desires me to come to Him and speak with Him in all confidence.'

‘Holy Communion is a happiness that can only be compared, it seems to me, to the joy of the Saints and Angels. These gaze upon the face of Jesus, and are certain of never sinning again, of never losing Him again, and I envy them these two things and should like to be with them. But otherwise I should have, if I was capable of it, a motive for exultation, because Jesus' comes to my heart every morning.'

'We have received Holy Communion .... What a union! Two extremes meet; Jesus Who is all and Gemma who is nothing. What a mystery! Live Jesus! '

'Father, let me speak about Holy Communion. . . . Are there souls who do not understand what the Eucharist really is? Is it possible that there are souls insensible to the divine urgings, to the mysterious ardent effusions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus? o Heart of Jesus, how can mankind refuse to consecrate to Thee all the beats of their hearts, all the blood of their veins! Oh Heart of Jesus, Heart of Love! '

‘It is night, Father, but to-morrow is drawing near, when Jesus will possess me and I will possess Jesus. Has it been because of my merits that I have been so favored? No, Father; isn't that true? Oh Jesus, my God, the object of all my affections, how glad I should be to die after having received Thee! . . . Yes, to die in the ecstasy of Holy Communion! . . . Jesus, my only love, I am waiting for Thee; do You hasten! Forgive me, Father, for writing like this; I am rapt out of myself.'

‘Yes, Jesus is sweetness itself, and all this sweetness is manifested in the Blessed Sacrament. But how can the Majesty of God bear the presence of a creature so vile? Yesterday when I went to visit Jesus exposed in the Blessed Sacrament I felt myself burn so much that I had to leave Him. I was burning all over; it even reached my face. . . . I cannot understand, Father, how those who are so near Jesus, are not burnt to a cinder. Jesus is such an irresistible and loving Spouse, that I fed that is what would happen to me….If Jesus acts like that, He will soon be alone. Sometimes I complain to Him, saying: " If You do act thus towards all and desire to make all who come to Thee feel the warmth of Thy love, people will not be able to endure it, and then You will be left alone.’

‘A few minutes ago I received Jesus. I know that I deserve to have to live with the devils, but instead I am surrounded every morning by the Saints and Angels, and continuously and intimately united with Jesus! How good and merciful is not Jesus! What is there worth loving on earth, now that I possess Jesus? . . . I live upon the earth, but it seems to me, like one who has lost his way, for never is the thought of Jesus absent from my mind.'

Nevertheless Gemma feared that in spite of the candor of her desires, she did not receive Holy Communion with the requisite dispositions, and that she did not obtain from its reception all the fruit she ought. 'Tell me, Mother,' she wrote to a religious, 'why notwithstanding the frequency of my Communions, I do not obtain the benefit from them which others do?' And to her spiritual director she wrote: 'Day and night Jesus remains shut up, out of love for us, in that poor ciborium, and all around Him there is silence and squalor ; and then if in addition to this we also were to grieve Him, what a heart-rending thought.' And in her humility she said: 'I am so undeserving, that it will be necessary for me to make restitution for all the particles I have stolen and all that Blood! '

‘How happy Jesus makes me! But I am full of confusion at the thought. What was it that induced Jesus to communicate Himself to us in such a beautiful and wonderful manner? Let us reflect:

Jesus, our food! Jesus, my food! At this moment there are many things I should like to say, but I cannot. I can only weep, saying again and again: " Jesus, my food ! "’

‘Holy Sacrament, welcome me, receive me, grant me a tiny place in the ciborium, for You art my peace, my rest. . . . How can I hide my heart, oh Jesus, within Thy fire? Come, 0 Jesus, I open my heart to Thee; enkindle therein the fire of Thy divine love. You art a flame of fire, 0 Jesus, and You desire to change my heart into a fire also. Open Thy heart to me, 0 Jesus, for I have opened mine to Thee; set my heart on fire, 0 Jesus, and consume it with Thy burning love. . . . And You, the Lily of purity, the Fountain of all beauty, how is it that You dwell in the midst of such misery ? You nourish me and sustain me, but how do I repay Thee? You do feed among the lilies, but there are no such flowers within my heart. . . . Thy bed is of ebony, and Thy columns are of gold, and Thy stairways are carpeted with purple. But there are no such colors within my heart ! '


There were flowers indeed, and those colors, within Gemma's heart-a heart burnt up with love of God. For this is what first strikes the reader of her writings and ecstasies, her extraordinary love for Jesus. To use the words of Father Germanus, in his introduction to the first edition of her letters and ecstasies in 1909, Gemma's love was' tender and animated, constant and generous, fruitful of holy desires and the most ardent affections.' The Holy Name enriches every phrase, but so natural is its use that the reader, far from being wearied, is, on the contrary, pleased. In the Epistles of that great lover of the Divine Master, St. Paul the Apostle, one notices with admiration that the most Holy Name is used no fewer than four hundred and fifty times. In her letters Gemma mentions it one thousand and eighty-two times in her ecstasies.

We shall now quote some passages taken here and there from these sublime outpourings of her heart:

‘How sweet and good Jesus is to me, in spite of my being so wicked! How shall I ever correspond with the mercy Jesus shows me? What shall I give to Jesus in exchange for all the benefits He showers upon me?'

‘It is true, is it not, Jesus, that love is the best exchange for Thy gifts? And even I can love Thee. But I do not love Thee because of Thy gifts to me. I love Thee because You art my Jesus, I love Thee because You alone art worthy of being loved. I love Thee because You art good, because You have promised, have sworn never to abandon me .... '

‘I love Thee because You art my benefactor, my preserver, because You do consume my soul, do make my soul divine. Because You art my Spouse, I seek Thee always, I seek Thy affection, Thy friendship, Thy glory.'

‘You ask me how I should like to love Thee? With that purity with which the virgins loved Thee; with that fortitude with which the martyrs loved Thee. Yes,... You know, 0 Jesus (but do I say it too often ?), I want to love Thee as Thy holy Mother loved Thee.'

‘I should like to possess the purity of the Angels, and even that of our Mother, most holy Mary.'

‘Do You know what chastisement I fear to merit? I t is that of being condemned not to love Thee any more, my Jesus.'

‘Love demands love, and fire calls upon fire-Even from the depths of my unworthiness I love Thee, 0 my Jesus, and intensely. It would be impossible for me to think of Thee. . . . I spend my days uttering burning aspirations of love.'

‘But what do You call me? What do You say to me ? I am Thy delight, 0 Jesus? I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus. You art the staff of my life, the flame of my heart, the apple of my eye.'

‘See, 0 Jesus, if You had shown Thyself less lovable, if You had not made me understand the extent of Thy love for me, I should have loved Thee less. But You have made me love Thee, and now I cannot do without Thee.'

‘What would happen to me if Jesus ceased to love me? I, not to love Jesus, and Jesus not to love me? But it is a thought that terrifies me, and I beseech Jesus to continue to love me, to think of me, even though I do not succeed in loving Him as I ought.'

‘0 dear Jesus, come to me, come! Do not be disgusted with my misery, for although it is great, Thy mercy is greater still. Come, and with Thy purity, make clean my heart; with Thy meekness, beat down my pride. Visit my conscience, and if there is anything. that displeases Thee; root it out and destroy it. Until my heart is full of true and solid virtue, do not come to it, do not expose to insult the honor of Thy glory, the greatness of Thy Majesty. 0 my God, You who do lower Thyself to the vilest of Thy creatures, such as I am; repair the harm my sins have done, and raise me up, 0 Jesus! And then, come to me always, o Jesus ... .'

'I consider my soul as a high mountain with Jesus resting against it to prevent it from falling. Yes, it is indeed so! If Jesus did not sustain me I should fall. . . . 0 my God, make haste that I die, and die of love for Jesus! Do You not see that my heart and my body are in the throes of an agony and that I am on fire? Do You not see that I am a victim of love and that I shall soon die of love? The world wearies me; I long for one thing only, love, love, love.'

'What do You say, 0 Jesus? That I am small . . . that I am great! The smaller I feel, the more I feel I love Jesus. His love inebriates me, exhausting me ever more and more. I shall be alone with Jesus.'

'You art great, 0 Jesus, but notwithstanding Thy greatness, my soul shall succeed in making Thee greater.' (That is, by giving His Mercy an opportunity of triumphing.)

‘0 Jesus, I desire to please Thee, and what pleases Thee, pleases me. I long for Thee alone, and the accomplishment of Thy most holy Will.'

‘What joy one experiences when one abandons oneself into the arms of Jesus! The faithful soul becomes His dearest child. He opens His arms to receive it, and presses it to His most Sacred Heart. Oh Jesus, I am in such great need of Thy love! '

‘Jesus is an irresistible and loving Spouse. The Mercy of Jesus astonishes me. How could anyone not love Jesus with their whole heart and soul? How could anyone not desire to be entirely absorbed in Him and consumed by His holy love? '

‘Jesus is truth, but the truth is not in me. Jesus is perfect, but I am most imperfect. Jesus is pure ; I am so unclean that I am, as it were, wrapped round with uncleanness. Jesus is holiness itself, whereas I am the fruit of sin. Nevertheless, in spite of all this, I dare to go to Jesus.

‘Allow me, 0 Jesus, to call Thee Father, for no one forgives my weaknesses and inconsiderateness as You do. You art an abyss of love, Jesus, but I am an abyss of iniquity.'

'0 Jesus, why should I love Thee for Thy favors alone, and not for Thy Cross? But what singularity of love You have chosen for me! 0 Jesus, hasten to consume me with the same fire that consumed Thee.'

‘I burn, 0 Jesus. What a great consolation for me it is to know that these flames are the flames of Thy love! 0 Jesus, I desire Thy forgiveness, not Thy consolations, which I do not deserve. It will be enough for me, 0 Jesus, if You nourish me with Thy heavenly food. Let me plunge down deep into the abyss of Thy love, 0 Jesus ! '

‘0 Jesus, could there be a sweeter thing in the world than to love Thee? Now that we are close to one another, so united, burn me, set me on fire! I want to love Thee intensely.'

‘Here I am, 0 Jesus. Oh, when will You give me wings? 0 Jesus, what joy will be mine when I am no longer my own, but entirely Thine. Oh, what is happening to me? I don't know what is happening. All I know is that the earth is dis-appearing from view, that I am happy, that I am forgetting everything .... '

'What peace, what quiet even though You hide Thyself! If You desire to go far away, o Jesus, let us go to the mountain, let us run. . . . I burn with the same flames, I am bound with the same bonds. Even though You hide Thyself and provided You love me, I am happy, 0 Jesus. I should like all to say that Thy love has consumed me. 0 Love, 0 Love!'

‘0 my God, You say that to flyaway is love . . . then let us fly, let us fly ! '

‘Ah, I have found Thy dwelling-place, 0 Jesus! You dwell in the soul that You have created to Thy image, in the soul that seeks Thee, that loves Thee, desires Thee; not in the soul which prefers the things of earth to Thee! . . . But, my Jesus, my soul is no fit place for Thy habitation. . . . How do You stay in my heart, 0 Jesus? Yet, make it Thy dwelling-place for ever; 0 my Jesus, may we be never again separated! 0 my God, my Jesus, my Father, my Spouse, my sweetness, my consolation, the consolation of all mankind! 0 Love that sustains me! 0 Fire that burns without ever being extinguished, grant that my heart may be consumed in Thy flames!'

‘I wish that my heart could beat only for Jesus ; that the Name of Jesus could be the only word to cross my lips, that my pen could write naught else but the name of Jesus; that my eyes looked upon no other object than Jesus, and that my thoughts were centered on Jesus alone. I have often reflected whether there was on earth any object towards which I could direct my affections, and I found that there was none either in Heaven or on earth except my beloved Jesus.'

‘Let us ask Jesus to grant us > the riches of His pure love, so that we may breathe only for His love, live only for His love. May the reign of the love of Jesus be extended throughout the world.'

'Where am I? Who is near me? Without a fire I burn; without a chain I am bound; yes, I feel that I am bound to Jesus. I am being consumed with longing in the flames that give me life, and yet cause my death. I suffer; I live and I die ceaselessly. But I would not exchange my life for all the world. . . . I should like to cry in every ear: "Love Jesus, love Him alone!" . Father, to suffer is nothing, to burn in that sweet fire, is nothing, to die is nothing .... What, therefore, can I give to Jesus ? '

' ... 0 Jesus, why do You hide Thy lovely eyes? Let us come to an agreement. If You do hide Thy eyes, then do not deny me Thy friendship. Otherwise I should die. Do not depart from me even for a moment. . . . 0 my heart, why are you not on fire with love for Jesus, why are you not completely consumed? 0 Jesus, do You know why I have not found in the world a love as sincere as Thine? It is because Thy love is immense. Jesus on earth, Jesus in life, Jesus in Heaven, that is what sustains me.'

‘What is it I feel, 0 my God? Thine are the Saints, and the humble of heart, but not I, 0 Lord. Thine are the spirits and the souls of the just, but not I, 0 Lord .... They render Thee infinite praise and thanksgiving. But, 0 Jesus, even I, a vile and unworthy sinner, desire to love Thee, and with an unusual love. 0 Strength of my heart, help me ! o Fire, give fire to my heart; 0 Jesus, give words to my mouth, that day and night I may meditate on Thy glory and love Thee continuously. Unclean are my lips, unclean my whole body. I have need of Thee to cleanse me from every stain. Sanctify me, 0 Jesus. The memory of Thee, and Thy sweetness, holds my soul for ever united to Thee. Grant that I may pass from this visible world, to the invisible things of Heaven! '

‘0 love, infinite love! Strip me of this flesh, free me from this body, for I can bear no more. 0 love that delights yet ever torments me! When shall I be united to Thee, 0 Lord, to Thee Who do even in this world keep me so intimately united to Thee in the bonds of love. Grant, oh grant that I may die of love! What a happy death, 0 Lord, to die a victim of Thy love, a victim for Thee! '

As was truthfully written over her tomb, Gemma did indeed die a victim of divine love, for she was consumed by its flames rather than by the violence of her disease.



To the words just recorded and as a complement to the glorious epitaph inscribed on the marble over the tomb of Blessed Gemma there should be added 'Virgo altare Christi,' words so often found in the Catacombs over the last resting-place of the Christian virgins. This wonderful title, by which the Fathers of the Church frequently honored these Christian Virgins, belongs also to Blessed Gemma. For her life was one long sacrifice- a sacrifice which, united to that of the Divine Martyr, became the fruitful cause of the salvation of many souls.' [G. Petazzi, S.J., La mistica sete nel cuore d'un apostolo e d'una vergine. Milan, Tip. S. Giuseppe, 1909.]

This beneficent mission which occupied, one may say, every day of her short life was apparent to those amongst whom she lived, and they testified to it in the Processes for her Beatification. 'She acted as a missionary of good to all,' said Sister M. Agnes, Prioress of the' Mantellate' Nuns at Lucca. 'It was one of Gemma's characteristics to pray for poor sinners,' declared Canon Andreuccetti, and Sister M. Julia of St. Joseph attested that Gemma's life was devoted to the expiation of sin. Gemma's friend, Palmira Valentini, expressed herself with regard to this matter thus: 'Gemma was much afflicted by the thought of the sins which were being committed, and she often offered herself to God on behalf of sinners. This was a special characteristic of hers.' 'She would have liked to go throughout the world,' continued the Superior of the Sisters at Lucca, 'everywhere preaching the Faith of Jesus, and promoting the spread of His Kingdom by converting pagans, heretics and sinners.' 'She desired to propagate the Faith, and convert sinners,' said Marianna Bianchini, ' and for the latter she suffered willingly, and did penance.' Another witness, Signora Thecla Natali, confirms what has been mentioned above, and added: 'She strove to get others to do the same.' The Franciscan, Father Gentile Pardini, whose emphatic depositions we have often quoted in the course of this work, declared: 'The sins of mankind, and the insult these offences offered to Jesus, were an acute and continual source of suffering to Gemma, and she therefore prayed for sinners and did penance for them as far as she was able.' And he added: 'Her zeal for the glory of God was so great that she would have given her blood, all her blood, for the good of souls.'


Gemma did more than merely desire to give her blood for the salvation of souls ; she actually gave it. The reader will remember the copious blood she shed in her ecstasies when she participated in the sufferings of the Passion, her sweat of blood when she heard blasphemies. For a whole month during which she was praying for priests, she shed tears of blood. And all this blood was offered for the welfare of souls.

We should like to record here all the wonderful ecstasies in which she struggled with the Justice of God for the salvation of sinners, offering herself generously as a victim of expiation for their sins. 'What do You wish, oh Jesus?' She once was heard to say in ecstasy. 'Do You think that I am waiting until You ask me for my life? It is Thine. . . . I have already offered it to Thee. Will You be pleased if I offer it to Thee again, as a victim in expiation for my sins and those of sinners? Act at once. . . . My life is in Thy hands, it is Thine . . . it is Thine. If I had a hundred lives I should give every one of them to Thee, but I have only one! I am ready for everything. Does it seem to Thee that in asking for my life You art asking me to make a sacrifice? I t is a favour You do bestow upon me.' 'Do grant my desire, I she prayed on another occasion. 'It is not befitting that You should suffer, but I am here, strike me. Think of sinners. Do You know who has forbidden me to think of sinners. The Devil. ... Think of poor sinners, 0 Jesus, I recommend them to Thee. Teach me what I should do in order to save them.' [Quotations in this and following chapters, are taken here and there from the “Lettere ed estasi”]

As He had done before once for St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Jesus opened His Heart for Gemma, and with the thought of sinners in her mind, she ran to it. 'What art You doing, 0 Jesus? After so many other things, do You now open Thy Heart for me? Oh, if only all sinners would come to Thy Heart. Come, sinners, do not fear! The sword of Justice will not reach you there. But, o Jesus, why is Thy Heart, the best and holiest of all hearts, so tormented ?' The sight of the Sacred Heart so inflamed her with love that she exclaimed: , Oh, how beautiful is Thy Heart! . . . 0 Jesus, I wish that my voice could be heard all over the world; I would urge all sinners to seek refuge in Thy Heart.' 'Do they make Thee weep, these poor sinners? 0 Jesus, do not abandon them. I am ready to do anything whatsoever. You didst die on a Cross; make me also die. They are all children of Thine, and if they are Thy children do not abandon them. You know I desire them all to be saved. If You do abandon them, then there is no longer any hope. . . . Ought not I to suffer for them? Therefore be avenged on me. There are many sinners, but very few victims. . . . 0 Jesus, why will You not pardon them this evening? I desire to be a victim for all sinners. Oh, tell me, 0 Jesus, that You desire all to be saved. What does Thy Mother say to Thee? I accept every kind of suffering that You send. If they offend Thee, be You revenged upon me. You didst die on the Cross also for them; wait for them, 0 Jesus! Grant my request, wait for them. They can be converted. . . . We are all the children of the same Father; then why do You not save them? 0 Jesus, canst You really bear it any longer? Vent Thy wrath upon me. I want to be a victim for sinners; to live as a victim and to die as a victim.'

‘0 Jesus, whom ought I to pray for?' asked Gemma in another ecstasy. 'You Thyself, 0 Jesus, have recommended sinners to my prayers. Remember, 0 Jesus, that they are all the children of Thy Blood. Do You not suffer for their sakes? And I also, 0 Jesus, I suffer this evening, but gladly with Thee and near Thee, for when I am near Thee, suffering is almost nothing to me; but alone, no.'

Because Gemma's heart was in very truth full to overflowing with love for souls, and because out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, it is not to be wondered at that the same ardent prayers were often on her lips. Her love for souls made her almost audacious. She wanted all souls to be saved, and Jesus must hear her. 'I am thinking of sinners; I want them all to be saved, all. . . . I must think of sinners only….You canst look after the others.' 'Mother mine, Mom, just one thing more. Jesus is displeased with sinners! Tell Him to revenge Himself upon me but not upon them.' 'I have told Thee, 0 Lord, that what You have suffered for me and for sinners is enough. Yes, it is enough. I shall push my shoulders under Thy Cross.' '0 Jesus, if You had made Thyself known to all Thy creatures as You have made Thyself known to me, there would not be so much sin.'


Similar thoughts abound in her letters. 'Ask Jesus,' she wrote, ' to give me the grace to be able to win souls for Him through prayer and suffering.' , What is sweeter than to be filled with the thought of Jesus, and to be before that Victim of love and sorrow-a Victim for my sins and for· my salvation and the salvation of souls. Jesus will have compassion on me because He sees my heart. He knows its dispositions, how I am ready to do and suffer all things. He also knows the sorrow I feel at the thought of my ingratitude, and on seeing Him so unworthily treated.' 'The greatest torment, it seems to me, I have to endure is for His sake. I should willingly give every drop of my blood to please Him and to prevent sinners from offending Him.'

‘If Jesus should demand the sacrifice of my life, I would offer it to Him immediately. If He should desire something else of me, I am ready. I shall be satisfied when I am a victim, provided that it be soon, so that I may make reparation for my innumerable sins and the sins of the whole world.'

God was pleased with the generous offer made by Blessed Gemma. Like St. Catherine of Siena, she had placed herself before the mouth of Hell to prevent sinners from casting themselves into its flames, and Father Germanus, the sharer of all her secrets, could write of her : ' The number of souls snatched from the Devil by this humble child will be known only in eternity.’ [Life of Gemma Galgani, by Padre Germanus, C.P., Chap. XXVI]

In her Autobiography, St. Therese of Lisieux tells of the conversion of her first sinner, her ' firstborn,' a man named Pranzini who had been condemned to death for several crimes. His salvation was despaired of, but little Therese-s-little also in years, for she was only thirteen-determined to obtain his conversion. She asked Jesus for a sign that her prayers had been heard, and she received a sign. Just before being executed Pranzini seized the Crucifix which a priest was holding out to him, and kissed the Sacred Wounds three times. 'Ever since,' she wrote, ' my craving has grown stronger, and daily Jesus has whispered to me, as to the Samaritan woman: " Give Me to drink!" It was an interchange of love. Upon sinners I poured the Blood of Jesus; and I offered their souls, ransomed and cleansed by that Blood, to quench His thirst. But meanwhile my thirst for souls waxed and waxed; it was the most exquisite reward I could desire.' [The Little Flower of Jesus, Chap. V.]

We have already referred to a similar incident recorded of Gemma by Sister Julia Sestini, and it can be said of Gemma that the conversion of a man who had refused the Last Sacraments, after she and her school companions had offered prayers on his behalf, increased her mysterious thirst for souls, as it had increased St. Therese's. Besides, there is no lack of depositions concerning her zeal for souls during her early years. Thus Sister Julia Sestini attested: 'Gemma suffered because sin was committed. I remember that when she was only a small child, she used to grieve if one of her companions acted wrongly. . . . She often prayed for sinners and offered for them the mortifications she used to perform. . . .' But there was one sin in particular that afflicted her very much, and that was blasphemy. According to Elisa Galgani, on hearing anyone blaspheme, Gemma used to exclaim immediately: 'My Jesus mercy! Let us pray for that person's soul.' This statement refers to the time when Gemma lived at Camaiore. Her cousin, Luigi Bartelloni, also deposed concerning this period of her life : ' She suffered much because of sin, and because of blasphemy especially.'

The reader will remember the conversion of the water-carrier, and her struggle with Divine Justice while she was in ecstasy on the occasion of her first meeting with Father Germanus. There were many such incidents in her life. The Devil was filled. with rage at seeing so many souls snatched from hi' grasp. He warned her that if she continued to interest herself in souls she would pay dearly for it. She did pay dearly for these victories over the Powers of Darkness, as the reader knows already.


Having chosen her for this mission, her Divine Master continued to inspire Gemma to sacrifice herself more and more for souls. It need not be said these inspirations had more influence over her than the threats of the Devil. She wrote to Monsignor Volpi:

‘Tonight I told Jesus that I could bear no more sufferings, and He answered: "My child, I also can put up no longer with the wicked treatment I receive. There are so many terrible sins being committed just now that I cannot bear it any longer. But your suffering holds back the chastisement which My Father has prepared for so many poor sinners. And will you not suffer willingly?" I replied that I would, but that I was afraid that it would be too much for me. Jesus then said: " Do not fear! If I make you suffer I shall give you strength to bear it. 0 my child, do you not see that I am helping you more now than before? . . . Look how the world is treating Me to-day! I am very displeased with those who offend Me." I besought Jesus to have patience, and to vent His displeasure upon me by making me suffer as much as I could bear.'

Even her Guardian Angel often incited her to suffer on behalf of souls, by recalling to her mind the price Jesus paid for their salvation. Thus she wrote to Father Germanus :

‘My Guardian Angel said to me yesterday, and repeated it again to-night very sadly: " If you were to see how much Jesus suffers! If you could see Him!" I then began to grieve, because on other occasions when He was suffering He came and told me, and I also suffered and it seemed to me that my suffering consoled Him a little. But He does not come now. I asked him (the Angel) why Jesus suffered more and he answered: " Because there are so many sins committed!"’

We shall quote here a long extract from a letter Gemma wrote to Father Germanus, which conveys a vivid idea of the ardor of her zeal for salvation of souls:

‘If you knew, Father, how Jesus is afflicted sometimes! Oh, it is almost too much to bear to see Him like that, and then how many are there who compassionate Him? Very few, and Jesus is almost always alone. I suffer very much at seeing Jesus in the midst of such sorrow.

And what is to be done? Am I to see Him in that state and not help Him? At times I am filled with such an immense desire of suffering all the torments in the world that I cannot but try to find means of making myself suffer. About eight days ago, immediately after Holy Communion, three resolutions came spontaneously to my mind, and I made them at once to Jesus. If ever You desire, 0 my God, to take away my life as a chastisement for my innumerable sins, from this moment I offer it to Thee. I am ready to die when it shall please Thee. I offer my life to Thee, 0 my God-my life united to the life of Jesus, and my sufferings with His, only I ask Thee to grant me perfect sorrow for my sins! and. You, 0 Jesus, have often made known to me that it is Thy Will that I should enter a Convent. Well, if You so desire, I am ready, but I should like to enter only to suffer for Thee, to love Thee, and to do penance for my great sins, 3rd. 0 Jesus, do You wish me to continue to live as I am? May You be blessed! Perhaps You prefer me to live in the world, alone, abandoned, and despised by all? I am prepared. . . . May Thy holy Will be accomplished in every way! I renew these three resolutions every morning and this pleases Jesus very much. He even reminds me of them if I forget.'

In the following chapter we shall see more particularly how much these resolutions, and especially the second resolution, were to cost Gemma.

On one occasion a sick man who would not go to the Sacraments was recommended to Gemma's prayers. The witness, Carola Puccinelli, who gave evidence concerning this sinner, also mentioned four ecstasies of Gemma at which she was present. She said:

'On January 9, 1900, at three o'clock, I saw this young girl on her knees in silence, with hands joined and eyes closed. Then she began: "My Jesus, before my heart offends Thee, allow me to die now that I hope I am in the state of grace. I have so much to say to Thee. That sinner . . . I do not want to see . . . that sinner has grievously wounded Thy Heart. Remember that when You didst show Thyself to me crucified, I had grievously wounded Thy heart, and yet You didst have compassion on me. Have compassion also on this sinner. You do call me Thy sinner, call him also Thy sinner. That Cross, what is it, 0 Jesus? Thy Mother weeps and You do not answer me. Do not abandon him. Some people who have been good to me have recommended him to my prayers. I cannot otherwise return their kindness to me. o my Jesus, I have nothing to give Thee; but art You going to leave me so soon ? "

‘On January 12, 1900, I again saw this young girl on her knees with her hands joined and her eyes closed. She said : " 0 Jesus, if I was not forbidden to do so by my confessor, I should give my hands and my feet to Thee. Take my heart; I can give that. Make me suffer what You will, give me that pain in my heart, 0 Jesus." Then it became difficult for her to breathe, and she fell down upon the floor. She was helped up again. She appeared to be suffering much. After a short silence she said: " 0 Jesus, You art suffering, and You do make me suffer also. Do not pay any attention to my body, which is the enemy of my salvation. 0 Jesus, that man. . . . Didst You not say You had died for sinners? He is Thy child .... Obstinate sinners . . . but then when . . . 0 dearest Mother, thy duty in Heaven is to intercede for sinners. 0 Jesus, art You going away ? "

‘On January 26, 1900, I saw this girl once more. Her eyes were closed and in her right hand there was a wound as if it had been pierced by a nail. Because until this time I had been doubtful about these facts, I was very much confused at the sight of the wound, and did not dare to look at the other hand. Blood was perspiring from her forehead, clear red blood. She was praying: " 0 Jesus, I offer myself to Thee for that sinner I have made myself responsible for. I have obtained all the necessary permissions, and therefore I can offer everything to Thee. Do with me whatever You desire. He is in my hands and I will hold myself responsible for him. I will see that he is saved. I do not ask for justice but for mercy. Yes, I have all the necessary permissions, and I can suffer. I can endure the Cross because it is Thy Cross; the sufferings will be Thine ....

‘On July 20, 1900, I saw her again, this time seated in an easy-chair. A sweat of blood was trickling down her face. She looked like an angel. She began to speak as if there was someone near her. "0 Jesus," she said, "all is going well when one suffers to Jesus, I am bearing that sinner on my shoulders."’

The obstinate sinner mentioned in the above ecstasies, for whom Gemma prayed for a year, was at length struck down with a serious illness. A very short time before his death, his heart softened and he consented to make his peace with God. The priest was sent for, and the man lived just long enough to receive absolution, and the benefit of the Jubilee indulgence. At the exact moment of his death, Gemma turned to Cecilia Giannini with whom she was out walking and exclaimed: " He is saved, he is saved!" Canon Andreuccetti who also deposed the above facts, adding, however, precise details about the persons concerned, declared that' although he was in great pain he died resigned, and showing clear signs of piety and contrition.'


The evidence of the Processes amply proves that Gemma very often had sinners in her hands and on her shoulders, as she used to say herself. Cecilia Giannini declared: 'She used to spend several nights in prayer for any sinner who was recommended to her. Sometimes when we were in the Church she asked me to pray for a soul who was then very near conversion, saying: " Let us recommend him to the Blessed Virgin because he has not the moral strength to give up his sin. He often makes good resolutions but has not the courage to put them into practice .... " It is not astonishing, therefore, that those who knew her should have frequently asked her prayers for the conversion of certain sinners with whom they were acquainted. They could not have done anything more pleasing to her than this. Signora Justina Giannini herself attested that she recommended to Gemma's prayers a person very dear to her. Gemma promised to pray, and must indeed have continued her intercession in Heaven, because it was not until towards 1919, three years before Signora Giannini was cited to give evidence at the Apostolic Process then sitting at Pisa, that the person's conversion took place.

Mother Gemma of Jesus has left us the following intimate description of her friend's zeal for the salvation of souls: 'She had always at heart the glory of God and the spiritual good of her neighbor. Above all she prayed for sinners and offered herself as victim for their conversion. . . . She prayed for the Church and for the return into its bosom of all heretics and schismatics. When the Passionist Fathers were giving missions, she redoubled her prayers for the conversion of sinners. . . . The Servant of God did not limit herself to prayers and exhortations, but she practised penance and indescribable mortifications for sinners and desired to experience in herself all the pains which Jesus suffered in His Passion.' To complete this deposition we shall again quote Cecilia Giannini. She deposed as follows: 'I heard her pray for the Pope, for priests, for the triumph of the Church, and I heard her offer herself as a victim to stave off the chastisements which the offences against God were calling down upon mankind.'

Gemma's heart was so on fire with zeal for souls that she was capable of enduring everything on their behalf. For instance, the following prayer was uttered by her while she was in ecstasy. The person mentioned was one from whom she had a right to expect entirely different treatment, for from being a friend he had changed into an implacable enemy, and his attitude to her was so offensive that St. Paul of the Cross had appeared to her to console her. '0 Jesus, I recommend to Thee my greatest enemy, the one who is most opposed to me. Guide him, be with him . everywhere. If You do intend to lay Thy hand heavily upon him, do not do so. Lay it instead upon me. Be good to him, o Jesus. . . . Do not abandon him; console him. I t does not matter if I am in pain, but it is different with him. I recommend him to Thee now and always. . . . 0 Jesus, I beseech Thee do not speak of it; help him, help him and console him. Give him in grace twice the measure of the evil -Do You understand, Jesus? -the evil he wished to do me. Will You be revenged on me? No, Jesus, with Thy help . . . I recommend him to Thee; think of him, guide him. . . . And to show Thee that I love Thee, to-morrow morning I shall offer my Holy Communion for him. He is perhaps thinking of doing us evil, but instead we wish to do him good, ever so much good.' This is indeed heroic virtue. The Saints alone are capable of praying like that.

Here is another rare and sublime act of heroism. When Gemma used to go to the Convent of the ‘Mantellate' Nuns, she heard that one of the religious frequently suffered greatly from terrible attacks of the Devil. What was she to do to help her? Gemma was not one to measure the extent of her generosity, or to hesitate at obstacles. She immediately decided to offer to take upon herself these diabolical attacks in order that the nun might be thereby released from suffering. Besides, she would have liked to undergo this kind of suffering on behalf of sinners. Having obtained Monsignor Volpi's permission, she asked Jesus to make the exchange. The nun was freed and Gemma was submitted to this new and awful suffering. There must have been many poor sinners who reaped spiritual profit from this extraordinary act of charity!

Gemma had long worked, suffered and prayed for the salvation of sinners when Jesus decided, as it were, to invest her solemnly with this mission of converting souls, and thereby consecrating her as an acceptable victim to His most Sacred Heart. Of this, however, we shall treat in the chapter which follows, since it concerns what we shall relate in that place. But here we must state that all these new confidences on the part of her Divine Spouse did but excite her heart to greater efforts for the conversion of sinners. Only two days before her death, she obtained one such conversion. It was her last. She had prayed long and earnestly for him. During her last illness she said: 'I shall bear him on my shoulders, all this Lent, but then I shall leave him alone.' And indeed she did leave him alone on Holy Thursday, the day he was touched with sorrow for his sins and returned to God by a humble confession.


But Gemma's heart was great, immense. It was not satisfied with withdrawing poor erring sinners from the brink of perdition. She also desired to excite the good to practise virtue and to embrace the way of perfection. It is enough to say here that God made use of her as a messenger of good for His greater glory. She transmitted the orders of Jesus with that admirable simplicity which was such a characteristic of hers throughout her life, going immediately, without useless preamble, to the heart of what she had to say. Here are some instances.

A prelate once asked her whether his method. of government was sound. She answered: 'It is better to go somewhat slower, and do things more gently; otherwise you will please no one.' To her own spiritual director, she suggested: 'When you write, first ask Jesus about the matter, and do not write at random, as you often do. Forgive me for saying this, but I have wanted to say it to you for a long time.' Gemma herself was of great assistance to Father Germanus in his direction of souls. Sometimes, indeed, she endeavored to dissuade him from a course of action he had decided upon, for instance, to abandon the direction of certain souls. On other occasions she advised him to have nothing to do with certain people. She did not like the word abandon. 'Jesus never uses it,' she wrote to Father Germanus. But when it was necessary to use it, how she suffered! 'Father, listen! Jesus desires that you no longer even think about that soul. When He told me this I was grieved very much. But then I also learned from Confrater Gabriel that that soul is entirely devoid of goodwill. Father, please, do not pay any attention to me especially with regard to this affair, for surely I must be mistaken about it. When I think of it!

What will become of that soul when, as Jesus wishes, it is abandoned by you? Do make another attempt before you give it up as hopeless. Will you?' Sometimes she gave him advice, not very often, however, and enlightened him concerning certain people who were under his direction. , Father, that person is not as good as she ought to be; she does not give herself to Jesus as wholeheartedly as before .... Father, is not this what happens to all who go back and do not continue to make progress? '

Father Germanus followed the counsels of his spiritual child and found them very advantageous. Nevertheless, in order to keep her perfectly humble, he made it appear that he paid no attention to them, although occasionally he actually asked her prayers for souls in whom he was interested. Here is a typical answer to such a request. 'Let us come to an agreement, Father. I shall think of N.N., and you will think of a poor soul who is in mortal sin. I am almost certain it will be converted, but I am praying that when it is, the Blessed Virgin may come for it immediately so that it may not fall back into the usual abyss of sin. Is it right for me to make this prayer? I should like you to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to-morrow morning for my sinner. Help me to save this soul, and I shall help you to know N.N., if such be the Will of God.'

Gemma helped Father Germanus in the direction of a Society established by him in Rome and in other places, called ' The School of Jesus,' the aim of which was to encourage and increase among its members the cultivation of the interior life, devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, and zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of souls. She not only joined this Society, but became a most zealous promoter of the work. But, nevertheless, she endeavored to keep very much in the background, fearing, in her shoulder, and turning round she saw someone clothed all in white. At the sight Gemma began to be afraid, but the vision said: 'I am Mary Theresa and I have come to thank you for all you have done for me. Continue to pray for a few days longer, and then I shall be eternally happy.' The vision disappeared and Gemma quietly went on with her reading.

One morning after Holy Communion Gemma learned that the day of this soul's liberation had come and that when it would be freed that same night she would be given a sign. This is how she describes the incident in her diary: 'At about half-past one it seemed to me that the Blessed Virgin came to tell me that the hour was drawing near. After a little while, indeed, I thought I saw myself before Mary Theresa dressed as a Passionist, accompanied by her Guardian Angel and by Jesus. Oh, how changed she looked since the day I saw her first! Smiling she came towards me and told me how truly happy she was and that she was going to possess her Jesus for all eternity. She thanked me again. . . . Several times she waved me good-bye with her hand, and then at about half-past two, together with Jesus and her Guardian Angel, she flew away to Heaven.' When she described these apparitions to her confessor, Gemma told him. how much she had suffered at seeing the nun going off to Heaven. 'I have suffered very much, you know,' she said, ' I wanted to go there also.'

However, the work of this fervent apostle was not finished. She had yet to open the gates of Heaven to many souls, and thereby stud with precious pearls the crown of glory which was to encircle her brow for all eternity.



Running through the last years of Blessed Gemma's life was an intense longing to enter a convent. Her unsuccessful attempt to become a Visitandine seemed but to increase her desire to become a nun, a desire that was far from being satisfied by her frequent, but short visits to the' Mantellate' Convent.

When Gemma first met Father Gaetano during the mission at Lucca in 1899, she spoke of this desire. She had been commanded to do so by St. Gabriel, . who, according to the account she gave in a letter to Father Germanus, had appeared to her eight days before the beginning of this mission. , Go to confession to the missioner,' the Saint had said to her, ' and tell him all you have hidden from your confessor until now; tell him also that you want to be a nun, but a nun living under a very severe rule of life.' These words only recalled to her mind what Jesus had already said to her when she was in the Visitation Convent: 'My child, a more austere rule is necessary for you.'

At the end of Gemma's account of her life, Father Gaetano told her about the Passionist nuns. She was delighted. The existence of this Congregation threw light on many things. She now began to understand the meaning of the attitude of St. Gabriel, of the way he addressed her when he came to her during her serious illness. Besides, during the mission Jesus Himself had asked her, as we have already stated, whether she liked the habit the missioners wore, and had then told her that she would be a child of His Passion.

From that time all Gemma's thoughts of being a nun were directed towards the Congregation founded by St. Paul of the Cross. This she admitted in a letter, part of which has been quoted already: , From that moment,' she wrote, ' I could not help thinking of those words (that there was a Congregation of Passionist nuns) and of becoming one of them. I told my confessor. He was pleased and said that a very rigorous rule was what I needed. After this I had a great devotion to Confrater Gabriel. I began to pray to him and still pray to him that he may obtain for me the grace of becoming a nun soon.'

This angelic friendship between St. Gabriel and Blessed Gemma grew closer every day, and it must be said that she began her life as a Passionist with him who called her his sister. According to the testimony of her Aunt Elisa she wore over her heart the emblem of the Passion which the followers of St. Paul of the Cross wear externally upon their habits. In her daily life she followed as far as she was able the horarium used by the Passionist nuns. For instance, she rose at midnight to say the Divine Office. 'Gemma confided to me,' said her friend, Palmira Valentini, in a deposition in the Processes, , that she had begun to say every day the Divine Office as said by the Passionists.' 'In order to prepare for the time when she would be a Passionist nun,' continues Palmira Valentini, 'and from a spirit of penance she went without stockings for a year even in winter.' At this time Cecilia Giannini used to accompany Gemma home every evening and on one occasion it was snowing and was very cold. There was also a high wind blowing and Cecilia Giannini was astonished to see in a violent gust that Gemma was wearing no stockings. She reprimanded her and afterwards told Monsignor Volpi, and from then on Gemma always wore stockings.


If we are to believe the evidence of Elisa Galgani, and her evidence was confirmed in substance at least by several other witnesses, Gemma did not lose time in making formal application to be admitted into the Passionist Convent at Corneto (to-day called Tarquinia). But the answer was more than a mere refusal. It was couched in sharp and humili-ating terms. Perhaps the nuns were aware of the serious illness she had had, and of the fact that there was consumption in her family. Gemma, however, was not in the least offended. She had asked for one favour and had obtained another, for she always looked upon humiliations as most desirable gifts. But her family did not do so, and in consequence Gemma felt the refusal keenly. Seeing her crying over it, her brother Anthony said: 'Do not be afraid! If you want to be a Saint you can be one even outside a convent.' She asked him whether he was angry with the Mother Superior who had sent the letter, adding: 'If she was in Purgatory and a prayer of mine could liberate her, I would willingly say it there and then.' To her Aunt Elisa she spoke a few words which were indeed a prophecy : 'Listen, Aunt! Alive, they do not want me, but after my death they will be glad to have me.' Many years previously, similar words were uttered by another holy girl who knocked in vain at the gate of a convent in Viterbo. Today she is the greatest glory of that convent and that city. It was the same with Blessed Gemma Galgani. In 1923, her holy body was taken from the cemetery at Lucca and laid to rest in the little chapel attached to the Convent of the Passionist nuns outside the Porta Elisa, where it is venerated as a most precious treasure. The children of St. Paul of the Cross honor Blessed Gemma as their Rose of Viterbo.


The rebuff from the Mother Superior of the Tarquinia Convent did but strengthen Gemma's determination to become a Passionist. From this time on she seldom wrote a letter that did not contain some reference to this intention. 'Oh, how shall I be able to remain in this world where everything is so wearisome to me ! . . . It is still Gemma who writes; I am still in the world.' Again she pleaded: 'If you knew how unhappy I am in the world! Help me to become a Passionist…. Put me away somewhere.'

Gemma desired to enter a convent in order that she might be able to suffer there, and in particular that she might be able to suffer with Jesus the torments of His most Sacred Passion. She did not realize that the mysterious things that were happening to her constituted an obstacle, especially in the eyes of those who did not understand them. 'Nearly every morning when He comes, Jesus makes me suffer,' she wrote on another occasion. ' This morning He said to me twice: "When do you want Me to increase your sufferings?" I did not answer. If I were in a convent I should have said: " 0 Jesus, do indeed increase my pains and sufferings, but increase also my strength." For if I were in a convent I should have had courage enough to say it. If I could suffer alone it would be all right. It is, indeed, only I who suffer, but there are many who are thereby disturbed. I do not know how to explain myself here. Do you understand me? '

She seized every opportunity to manifest her desire to be a nun. One by one several of her companions had entered the convent, leaving her in the world. This fact made her pour out her heart to Father Germanus: 'So many of my friends have had, like me, a vocation to be a religious. They are all about my age, and have all been received. I alone remain. I cry when I think of it. I do not want to cry, you know, because my Guardian Angel does not wish it, but the tears come of their own accord. How I long to be in a convent also! '

She heard that the Passionist nuns were about to open a novitiate at Tarquinia, and she therefore wrote again: 'Is there any hope of a place being kept for the lowliest child of St. Paul? I will be good, you know, and obedient always. Tell the nuns that I desire to serve them, that I will be their servant. You know I can work, I can sweep, wash the dishes, draw and carry water and also sew. I will be obedient to everyone, to all. Will you tell them to take me? Tell them that I suffer so much! '

Just as she asked Father Peter Paul Moreschini, the Provincial of the Passionists, the first time she met him to use his influence with the nuns at Tarquinia to have her accepted as a lay sister, so also she now sought the intercession of anyone whom she thought could help her. Thus she wrote the following letter to Monsignor Volpi:

‘Monsignor, will you have pity on me, and find some means of putting me away from the world. I cannot live any longer like this. I cannot be with Jesus as much as I should like, do you believe me? I cannot bear it any more. Find a place for me somewhere. I will work, I will be the servant of the nuns. I will do anything, but do take me away from the world. Because I am not in a convent I cannot feel satisfied. There was one thing. I wanted to say to you this morning, but I did not venture to do so. Yesterday evening a Father who has just returned from Rome said that the Passionist nuns are going to open their novitiate in October. N. N. spoke about it this morning and has an idea of being there. What about me? Father, would it please you if I went there by myself? I should like to go and ask them to take me even as a slave, for that would suit me best. Please give me this permission? They will take me, you know, for when I am there I shall go and see the Father, and if he uses his influence they will not send me away. You will let me go, won't you? Listen, the Father Provincial spoke to you about a lay sister who would be suitable for the Passionists, and you named one immediately. Do not forget me, for I am ready to go. Do send me, please? I will be able to do everything; rest assured of that. May I write immediately?"

The following letter written to a religious Superior on the same subject is certainly touching:

‘Father, it is a long time now since I began to have a great desire to become a Passionist nun. If you knew how I suffer at seeing the time pass without any definite arrangement being made -I can bear it no longer; the thought of it wears me out. . . . And do you know the most weighty reason given for my rejection? The first is because I am sick. But Jesus has promised that I shall be cured as soon as I enter the convent, and that nothing out of the ordinary will happen until after I have been professed. The other reason is that I have no parents, and am without a dowry. I have no one to help me. I have only one thing, an intense longing that keeps me always unsettled.'

This desire did not grow less keen. She spoke of it to everyone. She was hoping, no doubt, that she would at length find someone who would open the doors of the convent to her. To a friend in Rome, a pious lady, she wrote: 'On the last Friday of November, the Holy Face will be unveiled. I hope that you will be able to come, and if you think it is according to the Will of God, take me back with you and put me in a convent down there near you.' To Annetta Giannini she had already written: 'I am always praying to Jesus that He will hasten the day so long and so much desired by me when I shall be able to enter a convent, because I feel that all will not be well with me in the world, and that I can never be really contented in it.' In a letter to her sister-in-law, Assunta, on the occasion of the latter's marriage, she mentions her vocation: 'I feel,' she wrote, 'that I can never be happy except in a convent.' She corresponded with a nun of Tarquinia, who afterwards became the Superior of the Passionist Convent at Lucca, and invariably she made the same appeal to her: 'Will you take me into the convent with you? I will be good; I will obey.' 'The Father knows how much I should like to be in the convent. Do tell him, please, to make haste, so that I may become a nun as soon as possible.' Ask the Father to grant my request. I really do feel ill at ease here in the world.'

Even when she was in ecstasy she was sometimes . heard to pray for a vocation to be a nun. '0 Mary, my Mother, do let me enter a convent. After Jesus, that is my one desire! '

The repeated delays were a source of the keenest suffering to Gemma, so keen indeed that she besought Jesus thus: 'One thing I ask of Thee, if I am not to be a Passionist, take the desire away from my heart, for it is a thorn that pierces it! '


But Gemma was not the only one who was suffering because of these delays. Both Father Germanus and Monsignor Volpi felt deeply their inability to find a. way out of the difficulties that beset Gemma's desire to enter a convent. All their efforts to get her accepted were in vain. Although Father Germanus was convinced of the reality of her vocation to the religious life, the doors of the Passionist Convent at Tarquinia seemed definitely closed against her.

On her side Gemma wanted to be a Passionist nun, and nothing else. 'I t was because of the austerity of their lives and because of their devotion to the Sacred Passion,' said Cecilia Giannini, ' that Gemma desired to be a Passionist nun.' And Sister M. Julia of St. Joseph declared: 'Gemma wanted to be a Passionist; it was her ideal; it was indeed her proper vocation.' Concerning this subject Monsignor Volpi has left us the following deposition: 'The Servant of God several times expressed to me a desire to become a Passionist nun, and although there was talk of her entering other religious Orders, she always felt a special attraction for the Passionists.'

Efforts were indeed made to facilitate her entrance into several other religious Orders, and particularly the Zitine Sisters. But in spite of Gemma's affection for them, and in spite of the memories of the happy days she spent in their College at Lucca where she had made her first Holy Communion, the life led by the Sisters did not appeal to her, as it did not come up to her ideal. She longed for an austere and perfect cloistral life. Therefore when she came to know of Monsignor Volpi's intention in this regard, she wrote to him: 'Monsignor, please listen and then do as you think best. Why not try the Capuchin nuns, instead of the Zitine Sisters? But whatever happens I shall be content.' She went in person to visit the Capuchins, but her efforts also were in vain, and she returned home with one more thorn of disappointment in her heart. Monsignor Volpi asked Cecilia Giannini to make further efforts, but she refused.

According to Cecilia Giannini, Gemma had two paternal aunts among the Carmelites of Borgo at Mozzano, but nevertheless this fact did not secure her admission into their convent. When Gemma heard what was being done in this direction, she showed no enthusiasm, remarking: 'I feel that I shall not enter there.'

There were greater and better founded hopes of her being accepted by the ' Mantellate ' nuns, or as they were called, the 'Little Sisters' of Lucca. Gemma actually made a formal demand for admission during her first stay at their convent, and was presented to the Chapter by the Superior, and accepted. But the doctor who attended the Community had also attended Gemma during her illness and refused to give her the necessary certificate of good health, even going so far as to threaten to discontinue his services to the convent if they persisted in their intention of receiving her. Here is the deposition made concerning this matter by Sister M. Agnes, who was the Superior of the Convent at that time:

‘Gemma went a bout, even though it was a rainy day, looking for a doctor who would give her a certificate of health, in order to be able to join us, our own doctor, by name Gianni, having refused to give one, saying that she was not healthy enough to enter. At last she found a doctor who gave her the desired certificate, and joyous and happy she brought it to me. Then I sent Gemma herself to show the certificate to Monsignor Volpi. He said: "My child, this is of no use; you must have a certificate from the Convent doctor, otherwise you will not be allowed to enter." Gemma, much grieved, returned to the Convent, saying: "Jesus has told me that- if I enter a convent I shall live until I am fifty, but that if I do not He will take me when I am twenty-five." And as a matter of fact, she died at twenty-five years of age.' [Summ. Proc, super virtutibus, p. 403. L'Osservatore Romano, January 22 and 26, 1932]

Doctor Gianni was not so opposed to Gemma's religious vocation as may at first appear. According to Elisa Galgani his intention was to prevent her from entering that particular convent because in his opinion it would not be suitable for her as it was situated in a damp place.

Further attempts were made later on to have Gemma received in this convent, but they all came to nothing. Sister M. Julia once asked her whether she would like to enter the convent she was in, and she answered: 'Yes, indeed I would, but as Jesus wants me to become a Passionist I should have to leave.' However, when she saw that the difficulties in the way of her being a Passionist were increasing instead of diminishing, she showed herself more disposed to be a nun in that convent, and when it was pointed out to her that it was not her proper vocation, she answered: 'It is better than nothing! '

To understand Gemma's words clearly, it must be remembered that she was convinced that she would one day be a Passionist. On the other hand, Monsignor Volpi, seeing that no conclusion was being reached with regard to her entrance among the Passionist nuns, and desiring to place her in an enclosed convent, yet realizing how determined she was to become a Passionist, said to her: 'My child, if you pay any more attention to Father Germanus, you will never become a religious.' These words supply the key to the right understanding of many interesting details in the life of Blessed Gemma Galgani.


At this time there was talk of a foundation of the Passionist nuns being made at Lucca, and this helped to rouse new hope in Gemma's breast that if not at Tarquinia, then at least at Lucca she would be able to put on the black habit of the Passion. And, to increase this hope, she had certain supernatural assurances. She wrote to Father Germanus:

‘One day I heard that it was intended to found a Convent of the Passionist nuns here in Lucca, and it struck me that I ought to ask Confrater Gabriel about the matter. I t seemed to me that I saw him and asked him: "Will the foundation be made?" He answered me : " Sister mine, not for two years, but nevertheless I assure you that the Convent will be opened." "But shall I become a Passionist ? " He answered: "Sister mine, yes, you will be a Passionist." "But where?" I asked him. " Oh, let me go to Corneto ?" "But why do you want to go so far away? " he asked. "In order to forget everybody and to be forgotten by all." He did not reply, but blessed me and went away.'

Being now convinced that it was the Will of God that a Convent of the Passionist nuns should be established at Lucca, Gemma lost no opportunity to push forward the work. 'God wishes it,' she said, ' and what God wishes must surely be accomplished.' She encouraged and urged on all those whom she could influence in any way to hasten the foundation. But her slogan, ' God wishes it,' was not received with all the enthusiasm she desired, and she therefore set herself to meet the objections of the timid and the worldly prudent. She began to look out for a suitable site for the new convent and in company with Cecilia Giannini searched the whole of Lucca again and again. Besides this she wrote to Monsignor Volpi, to Father Germanus, to Father Paul Tei, to Mother Joseph and others. To Father Paul Tei in particular she wrote asking him to use his influence with Cardinal Martinelli. Mother Joseph had written to her saying that she believed that it was the Will of God that the foundation should be made, and Gemma, filled with joy, replied in March, 19°1: 'It is true. Jesus does indeed wish it, and He will soon give you this consolation. A great number of holy souls are praying continually to Jesus that He may hasten the day, and among them is Signora Cecilia, who will not have peace of mind until the foundation is made.' And Gemma made it known that there were eight thousand lire ready, and several buildings to be let or for sale.


In the meantime, in order to increase her enthusiasm for a work that would be such a powerful means of promoting His glory, Jesus confided to Gemma the sorrows of His Divine Heart and the consolation He was expecting to derive from the new foundation. On October 13, 1901, she wrote to Father Germanus:

'Ten days ago . . . Jesus asked me this question: "Tell Me, My child, do you love Me very much?" Oh, Father, how could I answer except with the palpitation of my heart. " And if you love Me," He added, " you will do whatever I wish?" My heart once more answered and manifested my readiness. "It is an important matter, My child. You will have to communicate important things to your director. He will give to My Heart the satisfaction that It craves for." Then it appeared to me that Jesus continued thus: "My child," He exclaimed with a sigh, " how much ingratitude and malice there is in the world ! Sinners continue to live in their obstinacy. My Father will no longer bear with them. Vicious souls make no effort to overcome the desires of the flesh. Souls in affliction become downhearted and fall into despair. Fervent souls gradually become lukewarm. The ministers of My Sanctuary . . . (and here Jesus paused, but after a little while went on) ... to them I have confided the continuation of the work of Redemption . . . (again Jesus was silent) . . . I give them light and strength continually, but what do they do! . . . Those whom I have regarded with such predilection, whom I have loved as the apple of My "eye ... (Jesus stopped and sighed). From creatures I continually receive nothing but ingratitude and an indifference that grows greater every day, and no one sees the error of his ways. And all the time I am bestowing graces and favors from Heaven upon creatures, light and life to the Church, strength to My Vicar, wisdom to whomsoever is bound to enlighten souls that are in darkness, constancy and fortitude to those souls who ought to follow Me, graces of every sort to all the just, and even to sinners who are lost in the black night of their sin. To these latter especially I give light and I manifest to them the tenderness of My Heart so that they may be converted, but alas, about the new convent, but he was full of regret because no one down there is even thinking of it as yet .... Only one year remains-and yet no start has been made.'

On other occasions St. Gabriel appeared in order to give her minute and important particulars concerning the foundation, which she afterwards passed on to Father Germanus, thus:

‘One day while I was praying, I was rapt out of myself and I found myself before Confrater Gabriel, who asked me: "Gemma, have you nothing to say to me?" I had, indeed, many things to say, even on behalf of my confessor, as he wanted to know about this convent, who was to commence the work, who would finish it, and when this would happen. When I asked all these questions I saw several people before me, and Confrater Gabriel pointed them out one by one. There were seven and I recognized three of them. "And who are those there ? " I asked. "They will be Passionist nuns," he answered. "Tell your confessor that he himself will be the one who will set this great work on foot, that he is to be brave because the Devil is ready to make violent assaults. But what does that matter; let him go forward .... " He then remained silent. He afterwards pointed out a young lady, saying: "Look at her! " (and I looked). " She is the one who will give the finishing touch to this work. Do you know her?" " No," I replied. He told me her name and surname, and the city where she was born and brought up. Then he disappeared. Nevertheless I was not quite persuaded about the truth of all this, but on more than three occasions the same thing happened, and on the last occasion he added: "At the end of two years, on a Friday, the work will be commenced."’

To Mother Joseph she wrote: 'I shall pray for all your intentions one at a time, but I want you, on the contrary, after having made known to Jesus the great needs of my soul, to supplicate Him on behalf of the new Convent.' 'Signora Cecilia is going to write to the Father to-day to see if something cannot be done about the Convent. I am hoping for the best. Jesus wishes to hide me in some place.'

Gemma nevertheless felt the delay very much, especially on the part of Father Germanus, and she thus complained: 'If the good Father would only make up his mind to do what Jesus wants, everything would be all right. Let us pray that Jesus may give him the grace to overcome his hesitation and have courage to act.' On her own side she never ceased to pray for the foundation, and she was heard to say in ecstasy: '0 Jesus, my confessor says that I am to insist upon Thy establishing this Convent .... He says I am not praying, but, 0 Jesus, You know how I feel, and. how much I suffer. Do You hasten the day! You have said that You have a great desire to see this work finished, and it is You who have put this desire in my heart also; do You think of it.'

Notwithstanding the sacrifice which, as we shall see, she had to make of her vocation, Gemma continued to pray until the end of her life for the accomplishment of the great work. In the last letter she wrote to Father Germanus, or rather in a letter to the Blessed Virgin, which she sent to him, she said: 'I am praying for this work .... 0 Mary, my Mother; see, so many victims are needed! '

We shall here relate some prophecies Gemma made concerning the establishment of the convent, though not in detail. It is sufficient to say that they were all completely fulfilled. They are taken from a letter she wrote to Father Francis of the Heart of Jesus, then Provincial Consultor of the Passionists :

'. . . Jesus said to me almost smiling: " You must tell Father Francis that it is easier for Heaven and earth to fall than that My words should not be fulfilled completely. Tell him that as soon as he obtains his Provincial's permission he is to go to Rome and say on My behalf to the General Consultor" (who, according to Monsignor, is Father Ignatius), "that he is to speak to the Father General about this foundation, and that he must do so quickly. Let them be ready to commence the work when you yourself will give them the word. These Passionist Fathers, of whom the General Consultor must be the chief promoter, will collaborate with the Bishop, who must himself co-operate in the work. Do you understand ? " He said to me. "In order that everyone may be convinced, tell him that it is I Who am speaking and that I desire all these things to be done notwithstanding the great war which the Devil is preparing to wage. The Devil will succeed in weakening the courage of some, but Father Ignatius will raise their hearts and infuse new strength.'


While all these things were happening, Cecilia Giannini wrote to the Mother : Superior of the Passionist Convent at Tarquinia, asking permission for herself, her nieces Annetta and Euphemia, and , an orphan girl named Gemma Galgani,' to make a retreat.

But Gemma Galgani was already known in that convent. The nuns had been told by one who at the time was very much opposed to Blessed Gemma that the extraordinary phenomena happening to her were attributable to hysteria, and he. advised the nuns to have nothing to do with her. The Mother Superior, therefore, replied to Signora Cecilia's letter on February 22, 1902, granting permission to herself and her two nieces, but refusing it to Gemma. As if this was not enough, she wrote again a few days later, reiterating her refusal. When Gemma heard of this, she was greatly dis-appointed and wept. But she soon became resigned. , It does not matter one way or the other,' she said.

The twelve days of Cecilia Giannini's absence Gemma spent in the' Mantellate 'Convent. During this time there was no manifestation of the usual phenomena. She had been put under the obligation of obedience not to allow anything extraordinary to happen. Nevertheless her stay at the convent was wonderfully happy. When Cecilia Giannini returned home and she had to leave the enclosure, she exclaimed: 'I am leaving Heaven to go to Hell,' and by this she meant to convey how much she disliked the world. In spite of this, however, she felt that it was not God's Will that she should remain in that convent, and in a letter to Father Germanus written while she was there, she confessed: 'I t seems to me that this is not the place, because my heart is not satisfied.' Nevertheless Monsignor Volpi would have liked her to stay there altogether, and Gemma would have acquiesced in this arrangement. We quote a deposition of Cecilia Giannini: 'Both Father Germanus and I would have liked to place Gemma as a boarder with those Sisters, but it was impossible, because when everything was arranged and Father Germanus came to take her there, she began to run a temperature of over 104 degrees and to spit blood. "In conscience I cannot take her there now," he said. But Gemma had warned him before arrangements were made, not to make them, because Jesus did not desire it.'

From this ,moment Gemma had to prepare herself to make the greatest sacrifice of her life-the sacrifice of her vocation. But she was not left without the encouragement of Heaven. One morning after Holy Communion she heard Jesus say: 'But, do you know, My child, that there is a life still happier than that of the Convent ?' And on other occasions He repeated those words. As we have seen, when she asked St. Gabriel whether she would be a Passionist at Tarquinia or in another place, she received no specific answer, only' Sister mine, you will be a Passionist.' And when Jesus had confided to her the sorrows of His Heart, and had asked her to work for the foundation of the convent at Lucca in order to increase the number of willing victims, in answer to her question whether she would be among the number of those religious, He had only smiled and kept silence.

At length her divine Master spoke clearly. During midnight Mass of that year, when the priest was at the Offertory, she saw Jesus offering her as a victim to the Eternal Father, and then presenting her to the Blessed Virgin with these words: 'You must take care of this dear child because she is a fruit of My Passion.' I t was her consecration as a Passionist. This was the only way she was to be a nun. She understood it all and made the sacrifice to God. She still prayed and worked for the foundation of the convent, but she put the thought of entering it out of her head. 'I no longer ask to enter the Convent,' she said, 'since a better convent awaits me.' To Cecilia Giannini who, on hearing her often speak of her approaching death, had remarked that this was not to be until she had been clothed in the black habit of the Passionist nuns, she replied: 'Jesus has the habit of a Passionist nun waiting for me at the gates of Paradise.'

The want of confidence and the indecision of those who were entrusted with the foundation of the convent grieved her; she knew that because of these things she had to die. But she did not regret dying. The foundation had to be the result of her entire sacrifice, and to Cecilia Giannini she said: , Let me die so that the Passionist Convent may be established later on.'

The foundation was indeed made. To-day the convent arises, an oasis of delightful peace, outside the Porta Elisa of Lucca, near the venerated relics of her whom the religious love to salute as the true foundress of their home.

We shall not go into the details of this foundation.

We repeat, however, that all Gemma's prophecies in connection with it were fulfilled. The first Passionist nuns came to Tarquinia in Lucca on March 16, 1905, two years after Gemma's death. On July 31, 1908, on a Friday, and not long after the Beatification of St. Gabriel, they entered into possession of their new convent. Pius X had already blessed the new foundation and had assigned as the special object of this community that which Jesus had asked of His faithful servant, namely: , to offer themselves as victims to the Lord for the spiritual and temporal needs of the Church and of the Supreme Pontiff.' Blessed Gemma must indeed have rejoiced in Heaven at the fulfillment of her ardent desires.


For the above reasons, therefore, the sons and daughters of St. Paul of the Cross have always considered Blessed Gemma as a member of their Congregation. 'If, for reasons that were independent of her will, Gemma never wore the Passionist habit,' remarks Sister Gesualda, the Carmelite, ' she was nevertheless a true Passionist. She was a Passionist in soul and she had the Passionist spirit. The Order has made her its own. Her convent has been established for years and is flourishing. Her prophecy has been fulfilled: "The Passionist nuns would not accept me; but I want to be one of them, and shall be with them when I am dead .. "' [Unfiore di Passione nella citta del Volto Santo, p. 251]

To supplement and clarify the meaning of the above words, it is necessary to add that Blessed Gemma was never clothed with the Passionist habit, notwithstanding the assurances she had from Heaven concerning her vocation and the new convent. The fact is that these assurances were made dependent upon the fulfillment of certain conditions, that is, upon the carrying out by certain persons of the .work which God had designed them to do. But the conditions were not fulfilled and Gemma died without being clothed in the habit of the Passionists.

Pope Benedict XV, in the Decree introducing the cause of Blessed Gemma's Beatification, condensed in a few words the reasons why she belongs to the Congregation of the Passion. 'The pious virgin; Gemma Galgani,' he said, 'if not by habit and profession, undoubtedly by desire and affection, is rightly numbered among the religious children of St. Paul of the Cross.' And Pope Pius XI, in promulgating the Decree concerning the heroicity of her virtues, cordially congratulated the sons and daughters of St. Paul of the Cross upon their possessing this true gem of sanctity and upon the honor their Congregation would receive from the glorification of the Servant of God.



The life of Blessed Gemma was drawing to its close. Her whole existence for twenty-five years had been marked by the purest innocence and the most intense love of God. The program she had mapped out for herself, namely, to belong entirely to Jesus and to live for Him alone, had been faithfully and completely carried out.

On the feast of Pentecost, 1902, her soul seemed to have been set on fire with the flames of divine love. On that day there was an abundance of heavenly communications; she was more than usually recollected and it was noticed that she was breathing deeply. And in the midst of these ardors Jesus once more spoke to His faithful servant: 'I desire,' He said, ' a great expiation to be made, particularly for the sins and the sacrileges by which I am offended.' This new complaint of her divine Spouse moved Gemma's heart profoundly. What would she not have done for Him ? Then, when He asked her whether she would undertake the expiation of these offences, she answered: '0 Jesus, You know I am most willing to do so. Yes, 0 Jesus, unburden Thyself upon me, and glorify Thyself in me, Thy miserable creature.'

Her offering was accepted. She became seriously ill. For two whole months her stomach could retain no food, her only nourishment during all this time being a little wine. Although it was obvious that she was suffering, no one understood what was the matter with her. Towards the end of June, she exclaimed: '0 Jesus, we have almost come to the end of Thy month. It has been entirely Thine! '

When Father Germanus heard what was happening to his spiritual child, he wrote before the month was out: 'In the Name of Jesus I command you that at the end of June you must return to your previous state of good health. Ask Jesus to do this because of holy obedience.' She obeyed and prayed. Jesus gave her to understand that out of regard for obedience and in order to show that He was indeed the Author of what was taking place in her, He would cure her, but only for a little while; that she would again fall sick and never get better. And so it happened.

Gemma was restored to her former health and strength, her usual color returning to her cheeks, but after three weeks or so she had a relapse. In September, following an apparition of the Blessed Virgin-an apparition spoken of in the course of this book-Gemma was once again restored to health. But it was only for a short time. She then became feverish and often coughed up blood from her lungs. But this innocent victim had something more to suffer than mere physical pain. To intensify her martyrdom and render her holocaust more pleasing in His sight, God withdrew all supernatural communications. Except for infrequent and momentary lights she was alone, without a ray of comfort. This was the great sorrow which Jesus had told her was to overshadow the end of her life.

Her dreadful sufferings soon reduced her to a skeleton. She was a prey to the most awful desolation of soul. I t was sometimes thought that the end was near, and some of the household watched by her bedside all night. The doctors did not know what to do.

Cecilia Giannini wrote to Father Germanus asking him to come and comfort Gemma, and advise the family what they should do in the emergency. In October, Father Germanus came. Gemma wanted to get up to receive him, but he sent her a command that she was to remain in bed. 'Well; Gemma, what are we going to do ? ' he asked her as he sat by her bed. 'I am going away with Jesus, Father,' she answered, full of the liveliest joy. , This time Jesus has made it quite clear. To Heaven, Father, to Jesus; with Jesus in Heaven!' 'But what about your sins? ' objected Father Germanus. , Jesus has thought of that,' she said. 'He will make me suffer so much in the short time I have to live, and so sanctify these sufferings by the merits of His Passion, that His divine Justice will be satisfied and He will then take me with Him to Paradise.' , But if I do not want you to die yet?' 'But if Jesus desires me to die, what then ? '

They continued to talk together. They discussed the particulars of her death, the reception of the Last Sacraments, her burial, and the care of her body which she did not want any profane hands to touch, because of Jesus, she said. That evening Father Germanus once again heard her general confession.

On the following morning she received the Holy Viaticum. In spite of her fever she did not want to break her fast even with a drop of water. She sat up in bed, with assistance, dressed as a bride with a white veil on her head. She had spent the whole night in fervent preparation, her heart on fire with loving expectation. Father Germanus retired to a corner of the room to pray. The priest came with the Blessed Sacrament, but Gemma was already She was detached from everything and everybody, and in the end even from me, so that I began to think that she no longer cared whether I was near her or not. I therefore reproved her, pointing out that she was ungrateful and that Jesus could not be pleased with her conduct. "Have I not done a little for you? " I concluded, "and Jesus rewards even a glass of water given in His Name. I have indeed made many a sacrifice for you. How is it that you utter not a word even though I am reproaching you with being ungrateful! " She answered: " But what are you saying? If there is one person in the world I have loved it is you .... " And with that she began to weep. "Do whatever seems best to you," I said. "I will not say another word about the matter." Gemma then continued-it was about a month or so before her death: " Nothing remains for me to do now except prepare for death, because I have made a sacrifice of everything." "Even of Father Germanus ? " I asked. "Yes," she answered, " even of him." ,

If Cecilia Giannini could have read her adopted child's heart she would not have been disturbed by such fears. In writing to Father Germanus Gemma revealed her inmost thoughts. ' After taking away my earthly mother,' she confided to him, ' Jesus gave her back to me in the person of Aunt Cecilia. But now I am orphaned once more. Twice I have been an orphan on earth! '

When the question of her leaving the Gianninis was still under consideration, Father Paul Tei, who knew her well, when alone with her one day, said: , You know, of course, that they want you to go away because there is a possibility of your having tuberculosis ?' 'They are doing what is right,' she replied calmly, 'but all the same I have not got tuberculosis.' 'But Gemma,' Father Tei continued, 'you don't possess a penny, and what will you do when they put you out on the roadside?' She smiled: ' Father, is not God also on the roadside? Where God is, there are all things !' A sublime answer indeed, an answer that reveals Gemma's inimitable candor and her childlike abandonment in the loving arms of God.


Gemma's sickness continued its course with all the usual improvements and sudden relapses. Its acute crises were terrifying, and it was often necessary to give her oxygen to revive her. These sufferings increased in intensity as her death drew nearer. 'Her sufferings were unheard of.' Thus the Carmelite, Sister Gesualda, summarizes the various depositions made in the Processes. 'Her stomach could retain no food, not even a few drops of liquid, and the vomiting increased the pain in all her limbs, each of which suffered its own particular martyrdom. Her cough racked her whole body and she had great difficulty in breathing. Then the Lord took away her sight, and her voice grew so weak that she could scarcely speak. Nevertheless, in spite of this, she never craved for any alleviation, or looked tired or sad. She never asked to be moved or raised in bed, even though she was lying in an uncomfortable position.' 'During the whole of her illness,' declared Mother Giannini, 'she asked for nothing, not even a drop of water.'

The Barbantine Sisters who had attended to her previously were asked to nurse her. This was done because, doubtless through some misunderstanding, she had been left alone a few nights when she had been in particular need of assistance. But she had not complained.

Gemma's room was a school of virtue. The Sisters never saw in her angelic face any trace of melancholy or of suffering. She was always calm and full of peace. Gemma and the Sisters once spent an entire night in talking about God. The Sisters were edified by her conversation, and on the other hand she was helped thereby to concentrate her mind on prayer. 'Let us say our prayers together,' she said to them. 'Let us occupy ourselves with nothing except Jesus alone!' Once at the height of her sufferings they asked her: ' If Jesus allowed you to choose between going to Heaven immediately . . . and remaining here to suffer on the understanding that this latter would redound to His greater glory, what would you do?' She answered: 'It is better to suffer than to go to Heaven, if it is a question of suffering for Jesus, and promoting His glory.' The intensity of her pain, and more frequently, the violence of the assaults of the Devil, sometimes drew from her such complaints as this : ' 0 my Jesus, I can bear no more ! ' One of the Sisters at once remarked that with God's grace all things can be borne, and from that time whenever visitors said to her with compassion: , Poor thing, I'm sure you cannot bear much more,' she immediately replied: ' Yes, I can bear a little more.' Even in the midst of her sufferings, she never changed. . The ingenuous simplicity that characterized her life was just as observable during her last days on earth.


A virtue that shone forth conspicuously in Gemma during her last illness, was her humility. One could not help being profoundly moved on hearing her ask Jesus and Mary to pardon her faults-she whose life on earth had been always so angelic. Her favorite ejaculatory prayer was: ' My Jesus, mercy! '

She prayed continually. A large Crucifix hung on the wall of her room, on her right hand, and in front of her bed a picture of the Blessed Virgin. When she was so exhausted that she could not speak, she still fixed her mind on God. One had o:n1y to see her face to realize how recollected she was. 'Monsignor,' she used to say, ' told me that when I could not pray with my lips I was to pray with my mind and heart, and I am doing so.'

Before she lost her sight she used to read St. Alphonsus Liguori's “Preparation for Death”. 'Are you not sorry you are going to die, Gemma? ' she was sometimes asked by Cecilia Giannini. 'Oh, no,' she replied, ' I have no longer any attachment to anyone in this world.' When Cecilia knelt by the bedside, weeping, Gemma comforted her by saying: , Aunt, I know your character; you worry too much; you are upset at seeing me suffer so much. Go away, go away far from me. Yes, go away and do not worry so much about me. . ..' She had a good word for everyone, and was most grateful for any attention.

One day Gemma overheard Cecilia Giannini encouraging the Sisters by reminding them of the recompense they would receive. On hearing this, Gemma's face lit up. 'No, no,' she said, 'leave that to me. I will think of the Sisters when I am with Jesus.'

Gemma was always happy with children. It was a case of like meeting like. While she was at the Gianninis' her benefactor's children were often with her, and when she had left they often asked to be taken to see her. And she always had a kind word and a smile for them and gave them the cakes and other dainties which had been sent. to her by friends. She did not forget the ' Mantellate ' nuns but sent them sweets and other delicacies. 'Whenever she received anything that was good to eat,' attested Sister Julia of St. Joseph, ' she put it aside for Sister Mary. She knew that we nuns are poor.'

On the last day of her life, her sister Angiolina visited her and burst out crying. Gemma tried to comfort her. 'Don't cry, Angiolina, , she said, 'there is nothing to be sorry about.' And then she asked Angiolina's pardon for the bad example she had given. I t need not be said that this only grieved Angiolina all the more. She began to cry again and in her turn asked Gemma's pardon. , Think no more about it,' said Gemma on saying goodbye, ' but try to be good.'


Gemma had to endure more than the sufferings caused by her sickness. During her last days the Devil attacked her violently. It would seem as if the powers of Hell were determined to make her pay dearly for all the victories she had gained over them. But these new assaults supplied her with new opportunities for further triumphs, and could end only in their greater confusion.

'From October until the day of her death,' declared Mother Gemma Giannini, 'she was tormented by the Devil, who appeared to her under horrible forms. I often saw her bed shake, and the Servant of God like one who had fainted after a cruel beating. Sometimes after these diabolical attacks an indescribably fetid odor seemed to hang about the room.'

Gemma had been forewarned in ecstasy about the violent struggle she was to engage in with the powers of evil until her death. Cecilia Giannini has left us the following account: 'I heard her say one day in ecstasy: "Provided You art not glorified less, do what You desire with me, but give me strength and help me." A few days later I asked Gemma to explain these words. "What new thing is going to happen) Gemma?" I asked. "There will be a great struggle," she answered, " and it will be the biggest and the last." ,

Above all, the Devil sought to drive her to despair. 'So this is the reward for all your sacrifices in the service of God ... ' he suggested. And then there came before her imagination all the sad vicissitudes of her sorrowful life: the misfortunes that befell her family, the death of her father, the heartless creditors who even searched the children's pockets, her various painful sicknesses. She was tempted to think that she was a victim of delusion and hypocrisy. She began to fear that she had deceived everybody and that her life had been one long act of deception. This imagining filled her with fear and dread. She had to do something about it, so she wrote as well as she could in that trouble of mind, a confession of her whole life, and sent it to a priest with a request that he should come and give her absolution. He came and reassured her, and once more her soul was in peace. The Devil, however, did not give up the struggle. He redoubled his evil efforts and assailed her in other ways in the hope of making her angry or lose patience. But again he failed.

The temptation, however, which afflicted Gemma most cruelly was that which was directed against holy purity. The poor girl wrote in desperation to her far-away director: 'Father, this suffering is too much for me. Ask Jesus to change it into something else. From where you are send threats and exorcisms to drive away this beast, or send your Guardian Angel to hunt him out of this place.' • That beast,' declared Cecilia Giannini, 'almost killed Gemma. I came away from her room weeping. The brute was determined to have her and she had no protection. There were deafening blows; and the Devil assuming the form of ferocious animals tormented her. We used to help her by sprinkling holy water over the room. The commotion would cease then, only to begin again worse than ever.' The few drops of liquid she could retain in her stomach were made sickening and disgusting by the appearance in them of revolting and horrible insects. Filthy animals used to crawl about under the bed-clothes and a snake twisted itself round her from head to foot, trying to suffocate her. She asked that exorcisms should be employed, but when her request was not granted, she took it upon herself to make them: 'Evil spirits,' she commanded, ' I order you to go hack to the place to which you belong, otherwise I shall accuse you before my God!' And then she would turn to the Blessed Virgin and in a voice that brought tears to the eyes of those who heard it, say: '0 Mother mine, I am in the hands of the Devil, who is tormenting me, who beats and scourges me. 0 Jesus, do not abandon me; 0 Mary, pray to Jesus for me! '

After each assault, her one thought. was-had she offended Jesus. 'Where art You, 0 Jesus? ' she would be heard to say repeatedly. 'Do not think that I want to do aught else but Thy holy Will. You know the truth, for You see my heart. o Jesus, if it be Thy good pleasure, give me a little respite! I feel that the struggle is almost too much for me. So please grant me a little rest, Jesus.' And Jesus heard her prayer, but the moments of peace in which He and her Guardian Angel used to encourage her to persevere bravely, were short and rare. The storm would burst upon her more furiously than before. I t was in this manner that Gemma, an innocent victim, passed her days and nights on her bed of sorrow.

But the abandonment had to be absolutely complete. It would seem that she was receiving too much assistance, too much strength from Holy Communion, and she had to make a sacrifice to Jesus even of this. Mother Gemma Giannini deposed:

'During her sickness she continued to receive Holy Communion every day. Because of the strain on her health we wished to prevent her from receiving, but Monsignor Volpi told us to allow her to go, saying that this was the only consolation that remained to her. Early in the morning I accompanied her to the Church of the Rose and afterwards came back home with her. A fortnight before her death, I took her to the Church as usual, but she was so weak that she was unable to go to the rails, and in consequence she did not receive Holy Communion that day, and this was a great sacrifice for her.'

It was to this Church also that Mother Gemma (then Euphemia Giannini) used to go with Gemma for the devotions of the month of March in honor of St. Joseph. Gemma always had a special devotion to this patron of a happy death, and desired to make sure of his powerful assistance in the last moments of her life. Euphemia Giannini looked after Gemma with sisterly care, and in giving evidence in the Processes spoke with particular emotion of the following incident. During one of Gemma's violent attacks of coughing, that seemed to be on the point of suffocating her, Euphemia was standing by the bed lovingly attentive. Gemma looked up at her lovingly to say: 'Learn, Euphemia, how Jesus desires to be loved.'

Gemma lived for a month at her new home, her last earthly dwelling-place. During this period Father Peter Paul Moreschini came to give her his blessing for the last time. She was overjoyed at seeing once more one whom God Himself had won to her cause and who had helped her so much in the days of trial. Father Peter Paul Moreschini gave the following deposition in the Processes regarding this visit: 'I heard her confession and knew that she was in a state of unmitigated suffering. The afflictions she was subjected to by the devils were unceasing day or night. Her illness, which according to the doctors was tuberculosis, had reduced her to an extremely weak condition, and I was persuaded that her death could not be far off.'


Gemma's death was indeed near. Heaven was about to open and welcome her within its gates for ever-that abode of the Blessed she had sighed after in life. "Make haste, Q Jesus; give me strength and make haste,' she was heard to exclaim in ecstasy, 'but shorten the time that is now so wearisome to me. Break this chain that binds me to earth and holds me back from Heaven. Let me come to Thee!' And again: '0 Paradise, in thee there will be neither night nor darkness, nor changes of things or time. . . . 0 Paradise, where God of God and Light of Light dwells. It is illumined by the Sun of Justice and the Sacred Heart will fill it with divine brightness; for the consolation and joy of Heaven is indeed to contemplate God, the King of Kings. . . . 0 Paradise, how long have I desired thee! Who can ever describe thee? A desire that never annoys, a plenty that one never grows weary of. . . . What happiness, 0 Jesus, to dwell in Thy Paradise! '

On hearing these outpourings, Cecilia Giannini had asked Gemma: 'Why do you desire so greatly to go to Heaven? Have you not got Jesus here? ' 'Yes,' she answered, ' but I do not see Him as He is in Heaven! One day I did see Him a little better, but my eyes were burnt by the sight.' 'And then I remembered,' continued Cecilia Giannini in her deposition, 'that I had once noticed that her eyes were sore and red, and that I had scolded her, saying: "Even your eyes are sore. There is not a bit of you healthy." But she kept silent, and on the following. day her eyes were all right.'

Holy Week of 1903 came, and it was to be for Gemma indeed a week of the Passion. From the pains she suffered in her body, from the deathly pallor of her face and the anguish of abandonment she experienced in her soul, she seemed, according to the witnesses, an image of Christ dying on the Cross. A life of sorrow and martyrdom could have only such an end. She had longed and prayed to die on a great feast and her prayer was granted. She died on the Feast of Feasts, Easter.

On Wednesday of that Holy Week she was allowed to have even on her bed of sorrow a slight foretaste of the reward that awaited her. When she came out of an ecstasy, the Sister asked her if Jesus had consoled her. 'Oh,' she answered, 'if you were to have even a glimpse of what Jesus allowed me see, you would be overjoyed!' On that same day she received the Holy Viaticum. From March 23 she had been deprived of Jesus, who had always been her all, her very life. She desired to receive Him again on Holy Thursday. So as not to be disappointed she remained fasting in spite of the burning thirst she suffered. I t was another heavenly scene. After receiving Holy Communion she was rapt into ecstasy and saw a crown of thorns. , Before all Thy work will be accomplished,' she was heard to say, ' what a lot will have to be suffered! ' Afterwards she said to the Sister who was attending her: 'What a day to-morrow will be!'


The following day was Good Friday. At about ten o'clock Cecilia Giannini, tired out and sleepy, wished to go home and rest, but Gemma begged of her to remain. 'Do not go away,' she said, ' until I am nailed to the Cross. I have to be crucified with Jesus. Jesus has told me that His children ought to die crucified.' After some time she was rapt into a profound ecstasy. She stretched out her arms and remained in that position until half-past one. She did not speak, but one could read in her countenance the pain she was suffering and the love that filled her heart. She was in agony with Christ on the Cross.

The rest of that day and the following night was passed in continual suffering. At eight o'clock in the morning of Holy Saturday she received Extreme Unction, following with a singular devotion its administration. According to Monsignor Volpi and Elisa Galgani, she again received Holy Communion. In the meantime those who could console had retired. Her likeness to Jesus Crucified had to be complete. Neither her confessor nor her director was present. Only a few charitable women were near her, their sorrow increasing hers, as the sorrow of the women on Calvary increased the sufferings of the Savior. At first she had expressed a desire that a telegram should be sent to Father Germanus, but she let the matter rest there, having also made a sacrifice of his presence. The priests who had given her Holy Viaticum and administered Extreme Unction, she did not see again. 'A priest and a Christian is all I want,' she had said, or as Canon Andreuccetti records : 'A Crucifix and a priest is all I require when I am dying.' She had prayed to die without any comfort and her prayer was granted.

Even God withdrew His sensible Presence. Her mind was no longer illumined by His light, nor her heart warmed by the slightest consolation. And to crown her desolation the powers of Hell launched upon her its fiercest attacks.

Monsignor Volpi was summoned. He gave her absolution and tried to comfort her. Gemma would have liked him to use the exorcisms, for she saw the Devil near her under a horrible form and threatening her. The ravages of her disease had exhausted and emaciated her, but in spite of this, her body became so heavy a short time before her death that three people could not lift her in bed. When she was told this she remarked: 'It is not I who am so heavy.' Nevertheless, both Canon Andreuccetti and Monsignor Volpi refused to use the exorcisms. After the latter had given her his blessing he asked her if she was now content. She answered ' no ' ; for Gemma desired that he should use the exorcism to free her from the Devil, who was tormenting her. Monsignor Volpi then left to return no more.

When Gemma understood that on account of urgent business Monsignor Volpi could not remain with her, she took her Crucifix into her hands and, raising it up before her eyes, said: 'See, 0 Jesus, now indeed I can bear no more. If it be Thy Will, take me.' Then turning to a picture of the Blessed Virgin she prayed: 'Mother mine, I recommend my soul to thee; ask Jesus to have mercy on me.' She kissed the Crucifix and, placing it over her heart, her hands joined above it, she closed her eyes and remained motionless. Later on the parish priest, Canon Angeli, came and was with her to the end.

Let us reconstruct the scene. Gemma was raised up in bed with her head resting on the shoulder of Signora Justina Giannini. Euphemia Giannini was kneeling weeping, her head bent down over Gemma's right hand, which she was holding in hers. The others were standing with their eyes fixed upon the dying girl.

When Cecilia Giannini saw that Gemma was sinking fast she hurried to call the other members of the family. 'Gemma is dying,' she announced. Everyone except the young children hastened. to Gemma's bedside. At half-past one she took a turn for the worse and then without even a tear or a deep sigh, she ceased to breathe, a smile meanwhile illumining that face which, in spite of the ravages of sickness, had always remained beautiful. Thus Blessed Gemma died, as a child goes to sleep in its mother's arms. The parish priest, who was reciting the prayers of the Church for the dying, asked: ‘Is she dead ? '

Gemma was indeed dead! The parish priest began to intone the De Profundis. This scattered the last illusions, and everyone in the room burst out crying. But the Angels in Paradise must have sung a hymn of glory. Once again the words of St. Paul the Apostle have been verified: 'If we suffer with Him, we shall also be glorified with Him.'

Gemma's holy death took place on April 11, 1903. [For the whole of this chapter, see particularly No. XVIII of the Summarium Proc. super virtutibus, and in the Processes the depositions of the persons mentioned.]



After the first moments of sorrowful realization, Chevalier Giannini said to his children: 'Now that there is no longer any danger to your health, go and give Gemma a kiss.' And they approached the holy girl and kissed her. The younger children could not keep away from the room where she lay, and weeping they frequently called her by name. Elisa Galgani recounted with emotion how the youngest boy, Gabriellino, climbed on to the bed and strewed flowers over Gemma's body. These demonstrations of affection and reverence were, as it were, the first notes of a canticle of recognition and devotion -a canticle that has increased in volume every day since.

In the time that elapsed before her burial, there was a continuous stream of people of every age and every social class, who came to venerate her holy remains. We use the word ' venerate' deliberately, for the news had spread everywhere throughout Lucca that a saint was dead-the saint who lived at Gianninis'. No one felt like praying for the repose of her soul, but thought rather of asking her intercession. Many declared that the sight alone of her body did them spiritual good.

Her body was prepared for the grave by the Barbantine Sisters. It had been Gemma's wish that no other eyes but theirs should look upon her and no other hands but theirs should touch her. She was clothed in a dark-colored habit. A Crucifix was placed on her breast and over her heart the emblem which Passionists wear on their habits-this being the suggestion of one who knew the intimate aspirations of her heart. A black veil was put on her head and over it a crown of flowers, and around her neck the Rosary which had belonged to her grandmother, and during the saying of which she had often been surprised by ecstasy. Her hands were joined over her breast after the manner in which she used to hold them during her sublime raptures. She looked angelic, with a smile playing, it seemed, around her lips. It was almost impossible to take one's eyes off her, and one felt instinctively compelled to kneel down.

People brought objects of devotion in order to touch her body with them, and the flowers that had been in contact with her brow were carried away as precious relics. There was an insistent request for things she had used, pieces of clothing and such-like, and according to one of the Sisters, if demands for her hair had not been refused she would have been left without a hair on her head.

.Among those who came to visit Gemma's holy remains were many priests. Don Laurence Agrimonti declared that he felt like staying in that room the whole day praying, so spiritually minded it made him. The priest to whom Gemma had sent her written general confession and who had comforted her, also came. He went down on his knees and, in a voice full of emotion, cried out: ' Gemma, here at your feet is a great sinner; pray to Jesus for me !' Other priests touched her body with their Rosaries, and one who arrived late wanted to stop and pray in the room where she lay. 'How easy it is to pray here! ' he said. 'Blessed is she who knew how to live like an angel and die like a saint ! ' A beautiful tribute this, in the mouth of a priest, to one who had prayed and suffered so much for priests.

Towards evening on Easter Sunday, Gemma's body was placed in a wooden coffin in which was also enclosed a sealed glass tube containing a parchment on which Canon Andreuccetti had written a short account of her life. The honor of carrying these holy remains rests with Joseph, the eldest of the Giannini family, another member of the Giannini household, and two Brothers.

A funeral, implying, as it does, great sorrow, does not harmonize well with the joy of Easter Day. However, all those who took part in Gemma's funeral were convinced that it was anything but a sorrowful ceremony. Her soul was already in Heaven enjoying the triumph of the Resurrection. She was buried in a special tomb and, on a marble slab above it, the following was inscribed in Latin :

, Gemma Galgani of Lucca, a most innocent virgin, who in her twenty-fifth year, consumed rather by the fire of Divine Love than by the violence of disease, flew into the arms of her Heavenly Spouse on Holy Saturday, the eleventh of April, 1903. Peace to thee, 0 sweet soul in company with the angels.'

This tomb held the precious remains of Gemma until April 7, 1908, when, with the permission of the ecclesiastical and civil authorities, they were transferred to a more suitable resting-place a few yards away. Her brother Guido, who was present at the exhumation, took away some flowers that had been placed in the coffin five years before and which appeared to be still fresh.

One may ask why there was so much enthusiasm concerning one who in life had been almost unknown, except to the Giannini family and a few others who used to visit the Giannini home. As the Holy Ghost has declared, humility precedes glory. On April 11, 1903, a new life began for Gemma Galgani -a life very different from the first. It was a sublime life of glory, and this enthusiasm constituted, as it were, but the opening notes of a song of praise and veneration.


The body of Blessed Gemma had not been long buried when it was suggested that it should be exhumed for an autopsy, in the hope of finding some extraordinary manifestation of sanctity, as happened with some of the Saints who were favored with gifts similar to hers. Some little time elapsed in obtaining the necessary sanctions and it was not until the fourteenth day after her death that her tomb was opened. Her body was found in exactly the same state as it had been when it was placed in the coffin, without the slightest sign of decomposition. Her heart on being taken out was seen to be fresh, healthy-looking, flexible, reddish and full of blood. Its shape, however, was very unusual. It was somewhat flattened and stretched towards the sides so that it seemed broader than it was long.

There were present at the autopsy, according to Angelo Grotta and Father Germanus, two Sisters of St. Camillus de Lellis; Chevalier Matthew Giannini, Joseph Giannini, the lawyer, and two doctors. , It was I,' deposed Angelo Grotta, 'who operated by order of the doctors. In cutting into the middle of the heart I saw and felt a jet of blood spurt out and strike my hand. This blood had all the appearance of blood that comes from a living person, so that I marveled how there could be such living blood in a body that had been dead for a fortnight, and remembering besides the physical consumption of Gemma Galgani. Her heart appeared fresh, healthy looking, reddish and full of blood, just as if it were a living heart, and the blood in the ventricles and in the orifices was in the same state and flowed very freely.' The doctors themselves were astonished.

What is the meaning of this prodigy? I t was the final trait of resemblance between Blessed Gemma Galgani and the Divine Martyr of Calvary. St. John the Evangelist says : 'The soldiers therefore came, and they broke the legs of the first and of the other that was crucified with him. But after they were come to Jesus, when they saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers with a spear opened his side; and immediately there came out blood and water. And he that saw it hath given testimony: and his testimony is true' (xix, 32-35).


The grave is the end of merely human fame. But the grave is only the beginning of the glory and the fame of the Saints. The fervor and enthusiasm which burst forth at the news of the death of Blessed Gemma Galgani will but increase as time goes on, for her tomb will become a centre of attraction for many hearts, and the goal of many pilgrimages. T ears will be shed in abundance there and flowers symbolizing love and gratitude will be scattered around the spot where her body lies. For the popular enthusiasm will be rewarded by Heaven by the gift of its choicest favors, and the notes of praise will continue to increase in volume. Blessed Gemma Galgani, like the Saint of Lisieux, is spending her Heaven in doing good upon earth.

The fame of Gemma's sanctity soon began to spread beyond the confines of Lucca. It may be said that it was she who made herself known and honored by the extraordinary graces she began to obtain for those who invoked her intercession. Four years after her death, in 1907, her spiritual director, Father Germanus, published for the first time the Life of the Servant of God. This biography, written by one who knew all the secrets of 'her soul, was a revelation to many. It was so well received that in two months the first edition was exhausted. Another edition was prepared containing more details, and in three months this was also sold out. From that time on, the number of those who declared themselves admirers and devout clients of Blessed Gemma Galgani increased daily, and with the extension of this devotion to her, the graces and prodigies with which God deigned to confirm the sanctity of His Servant also increased in number. In 1909 a collection of her letters and ecstasies was published and they were accorded an equally enthusiastic reception.

We quote here the following note from the third edition of Pensieri di Gemma Galgani, published in 1926. 'In order to give a fairly accurate idea of the esteem in which Gemma is held by the people, it is enough to say that to satisfy the continual and repeated demands made by her admirers, the Printing Company of the Institute of Pius IX, not to speak of others, published at Rome in six years (1907-1912) 52,000 copies of her Life, 8,200 copies of Lettere ed estasi, besides a million small pictures of her. We shall not speak of the biography published in Naples by Doctor F. Donato, nor of the little work entitled Gemma Galgani, published by the Most Rev. Father Giovanardi, O.F.M., nor even of the short sketch of her life published by the Unione Biellese. In 1919 at Asti, Canon Laurence Gentile brought out still another biography. It must not be thought, however, that all these expressions of esteem and veneration were confined to Italy. The name of Gemma Galgani is known throughout Europe, particularly in Spain, France, England, Belgium, Holland, Germany and Switzerland. Her Life has been written in, or translated into, the languages of these countries and published again and again. . . . From North and South America, from China and Japan, requests for pictures of Blessed Gemma and relics of her, reach the Postulator of her Cause, together with monetary offerings to cover the expenses of her Beatification. Her Life has been published also in Chinese and Japanese."

The circulation figures mentioned above need to be corrected. By 1929 71,000 copies of the Italian edition of the large biography had been sold, 87,000 copies of the smaller biography, and 46,000 copies of a still smaller sketch of her life. The collection of her letters and ecstasies had reached a fifth edition. Biographies of her had also appeared in Portuguese, Romanian and other languages.

We must not omit to mention the excellent Life which has gone through many editions, written with so much enthusiasm by her fellow-citizen and contemporary, Sister Gesualda, a Carmelite of the Convent of St. Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi at Florence, who had been the first to introduce St. Therese of Lisieux to the Italian public by her translation of the Histoire d'une dame.

We shall not quote the long and enthusiastic references to Blessed Gemma in religious magazines and periodicals in Italy, Spain, France, England, Ireland, Holland and Germany, in North and South America. But we cannot omit to mention that the Civita Cattolica of 1922 did not hesitate to declare that Gemma Galgani, Therese of Lisieux and Bernadette Soubirous were three souls who lived like Angels in this valley of tears and who now were joined in a true apostolate.

The words of Cardinal Gasquet in his Introduction to the English translation of Father Germanus's biography, are well worth quoting: [Life of Gemma Galgani, by Father Germanus, C.P. Sands & Co]

‘The story of Gemma Galgani will well repay perusal, for though it is merely the narrative of the life of a young girl born . . . in our own times, it would, I think, be hard to find another such wonderful record of the dealings of Almighty God with a soul that had given itself entirely to the leadings of Divine Grace. To us who live in this most materialistic age of reason alone . . . when the supernatural is being denied altogether, or held up to so called criticism is declared to be at best doubtful, it is useful and refreshing to have a book like this to read, which brings before us God very near indeed to our world. . . . Personally I do not know of the life of any saint in any age of the Church which has brought home the supernatural to my mind more plainly and fully than Father Germanus's story of the life of Gemma Galgani....

'The life here printed I look upon as one of those helps which are given to us from time to time to assist our Faith, and to bring God nearer to our souls. It is quite impossible, or at least it seems so to me, for any Catholic to read these pages without deep feelings of thankfulness that Almighty God has manifested Himself in such a truly marvelous way in the person of this saintly girl even in these our own days. . . . Of course those who are not of the" Household of the Faith" will probably be skeptical about the whole account, and the words " fraud" and " hysteria" will be taken by many to explain satisfactorily the strange phenomena here recorded. . . . Catholics who believe that God is ever with the world He has created . . . may well thank Him for this manifestation of the power of His Grace in the Life of Gemma Galgani, which brings so clearly before us the fact that the supernatural world is as sure, as real, and as near to us as the world of which our senses tell us. God is indeed "wonderful in His Saints."’


Father Louis Risso, a Missionary Apostolic in Honan, China, wrote:

'Here in China, devotion to Gemma continues to increase among the Missionaries. She is now well-known and loved throughout the Vicariate of Honan. Her Life is to be translated into Chinese and as soon as I hear that it is available, I shall send for a number of copies. I am convinced that it will do a great deal of good to these Christians by showing them what it means to be a Christian and how Jesus ought to be loved. . . .'

And Father Dronart-De-Lezey, parish priest of the Church of Our Lady Immaculate at Tokio and director of the work of Japanese scientific-religious publications, wrote:

‘The Life of Gemma I published in Japanese has had a phenomenal success! Five thousand copies were sold in less than two months! Never before have I known books in Japanese to sell so well. This saint has immediately won the love and admiration of Japanese Catholics, and what fills me with astonishment, the love and admiration of many pagans also, and among them, students at the Imperial University.'

The above is confirmed by Father Eugene Sugita, Professor of French at that University, who wrote:

'What a marvelous life that saint led! A victim of love for God, the seraph of Lucca seems to have been sent into this world in order to oppose her candor and humility to the sophisms of modern philosophy, the invention of the Devil. The publication of her Life has done immense good to our Catholics. She has softened hardened hearts, strengthened the Faith in others, and converted many, and this she will continue to do. And what is more remarkable is that this biography, so full of mysticism, has succeeded in making many of our learned pagans reflect-tired as they are of what is merely earthly. Indeed, is not the appearance of such a saint as Gemma upon this earth but another proof of God's mercy towards poor humanity? As regards myself, I must say that after reading the Life of the admirable Servant of God, I began to invoke her and I have not ceased to do so. I have experienced visibly the effects of her benevolent intercession, and I shall be eternally grateful.'

A pagan, the headmaster of a High School in the city of Okegawa, Japan, expressed the astonishment of himself, the other teachers and the pupils, at the holy death of a young girl, fourteen years of age, named Toriuni Kei.

' There was only one Catholic girl at the High School,' he said, ' and she won the esteem and the affection of all by her goodness and keen intelligence. But alas, she is dead. She died last July (1914) after a month's sickness during which she had read continually a book entitled Life of Gemma. She breathed her last clasping this book in her hands, whilst on her face there was a smile more beautiful, purer than any I have ever seen. We who more or less are without any religion, understood for the first time the admirable strength religious faith can inspire in a soul, and we attribute that to the reading of the Life of Gemma. We desire all our pupils to read it and therefore we ask you to forward us copies of that book.'

It would seem that, like St. Therese of Lisieux, Gemma is pleased to use her heavenly influence more particularly on behalf of missionaries. She who read the Annals of the Propagation of the Faith with such eagerness, and who was so prompt in the payment of her subscription towards this work, delights to bestow special comfort and help to missionaries and those under their charge. 'When I am sad and downhearted,' wrote a missionary from China, ' I read a few pages of her Life and as if by enchantment I am comforted.' 'I make my spiritual reading from the Life of Gemma,' wrote another missionary from the same country. Similar enthusiastic expressions of esteem have come from Brazil, Canada, and other distant countries.' [The Life of Gemma Galgani, by Father Germanus, C.P., Chap. XXXI.]


How can this truly universal devotion to Gemma Galgani be explained? Is it the result of judicious propaganda? This question can be answered in the words used by Father Henry Petitot, O.P., when explaining the world-wide popularity of St. Therese of Lisieux. 'As to the imputation of excessive and unparalleled publicity having been organized around the person of Sceur Therese,' he says, 'if we go back to its origin and follow it step by step, we shall soon be able to prove that it was evoked by the devotion of the faithful, and that it is, strictly speaking, a resultant and not an antecedent cause. The various editions, publications, pictures, pamphlets, were only printed to keep pace with the demand. They were not spread abroad, after the fashion of publishers, through the medium of the Press, by catalogues, or advertisements, or by notices intended to attract the attention of the indifferent ... ' [Saint Therese of Lisieux-A Spiritual Renaissance, by Father Henry Petitot, O.P. Preface, p. xvi. (Bums Oates and Washbourne, London, 1928.] To nothing else, therefore, must we attribute the popularity of Gemma Galgani except to the grace of God, who has thus arranged things for the good of humanity and the exaltation of His faithful Servant.

There is yet another matter that must be mentioned, namely, the salutary results which devotion to Blessed Gemma has effected and continues to effect among the faithful. We shall quote here a passage taken from the remarks appended to the Story of a Soul, omitting the name of St. Therese of Lisieux and inserting that of Blessed Gemma. , During her earthly career Blessed Gemma Galgani desired to. remain forgotten and unknown. That longing amounted to a veritable passion. She wanted to annihilate herself, as it were, and give to her Creator all the praise and glory, offering Him, by the practice of all the virtues, the greatest proof of her love. Now God remembers and exclaims: " It is my turn now." [Saint Therese of Lisieux, Part II, p. 243. Bums Oates and Washbourne, 1927.] And He repays the love of His Servant with a liberality that is indeed regal and divine!

We regret that it is impossible to give the reader any idea of the number and immensity of the graces and favors which have accompanied the diffusion of devotion to Blessed Gemma. It can be said that not a day of the thirty years since her death has passed without some manifestation of her power in Heaven. An account of many of the graces she has obtained for needy humanity has been published in the various editions of her Life. Many others have been published from time to time in the religious magazines and periodicals under the direction of the Passionist Fathers throughout the world. In 1924, the Postulator of her Cause arranged for the publication almost every· month of these graces and favors, under the title of ' Perle di cielo' in the periodical Il Divin Crocifisso, edited at Pianezza, near Turin.

Thus things continued until the end of 1931 when a favorable opportunity was seized and the first number of a new periodical called La Ven. Gemma Galgani e il Monastero delle Passioniste di Lucca was published in Lucca. Its avowed object was to interest itself in whatever concerned Blessed Gemma. It also undertook to publish the accounts of the graces and favors which were attributed to her intercession. The accounts in the Il Divin Crocifisso from 1924 to 1926, were collected and published in a volume entitled Voce divina e voce humana della tomba di Gemma Galgani. Altogether about three hundred graces and favors have been described in this publication, and they are, one may say, of every kind. In the following chapter we shall give an account of the two miracles which have been approved of by the Church and accepted for her Beatification. The following quotation is taken from the above-mentioned volume :

‘Gemma is invoked by the faithful in their material and spiritual needs; in all the ills to which poor human nature is heir; in imminent dangers, in troubles of soul, in anguish of mind; when there are debts to be paid, when one has to appear in court, when one has to pass difficult examinations, when an heir is needed in a family, when news of distant friends is desired, or their return sought; in financial embarrassments; when employment is wanted; for peace in families or reconciliation with enemies, for the conversion of souls who have lived far from God.

‘The conversion of souls! Of all the graces attributed to the intercession of Gemma, the accounts of the conversion of sinners are the most touching. Blasphemers have been enabled to overcome their dreadful habits; the indifferent have been changed in mind and heart after years away from their religious duties; schismatics have returned to the bosom of the Catholic Church; and very many who read her Life written by Father Germanus, the Passionist, confess that they experience a strong impulse to embrace the way of perfection and sanctity .... '

Among these graces there are some in which the supernatural is evident to anyone who reads the account of them, so evident indeed that reason and human science are at least constrained to confess that they are unable to supply an explanation. When there is question of the sudden and complete cure of inveterate wounds, of ulcers, of fractures of the base of the skull and other parts of the human body, of prolonged fevers, of tuberculosis bacteriologically diagnosed, of hernia, cists, tumors, infectious diseases, fistulas, and of so many other sicknesses, after recourse has been had to Gemma, then anyone, who has not lost the Faith, is compelled to ascribe these cures to a supernatural cause.



The universal outburst of admiration and love which followed the death of Gemma, was naturally a prelude to her Beatification, the greatest honor after Canonization which the Church bestows upon her heroes. One could not ignore a phenomenon so universal and so spontaneous, especially when it was accompanied by miracles, the sign by which God sets His seal here on earth upon the sanctity of His Servants.

In October, 1907, at the Archiepiscopal Curia of Lucca, the ordinary and informative Processes on the form of sanctity, virtue and miracles in general of the Servant of God, Gemma Galgani, were begun, and being completed in 1910 were sent to the Sacred Congregation of Rites. Among those that gave evidence in the Processes, there were, besides some authoritative members of the Giannini household, the three illustrious prelates who had every opportunity of knowing Gemma intimately, Monsignor John Volpi, at the time Bishop of Arezzo, Monsignor Peter Paul Moreschini, Arch-bishop of Camerino, and Monsignor Paul Tei, Bishop of Pesaro. Father Germanus, C.P., presented as evidence the biography he had written, at the same time pointing out the sources of the information he had used. These sources were the conversations he had had personally with the Servant of God; the letters written to him and to others; the accounts he had received from persons worthy of credence, priests, relatives, those among whom she had lived, especially the Gianninis who had been deputed to watch the holy girl day and night and thus observe and note down anything unusual that happened; the diaries Gemma had kept by order of her first directors; and the colloquies she had uttered in ecstasy and which had been faithfully taken down in writing by those who were present at them. Naturally Father Germanus did not suggest that he had been an eyewitness of everything he had written in his biography. 'There are very many things, ' he nevertheless declared, 'of which I can say with the Evangelist St. John: That ... which we have seen with our eyes . . . and our hands have handled . . . we declare unto you.'

The ordinary Processes being completed, her writings were next examined, and on March 7, 1918, a decree of the Sacred Congregation was issued in which it was declared that there being now no obstacle in the way, the Cause of the Beatification might be proceeded with. Finally, on April 28, 1920, a fortnight before the Canonization of St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Virgin and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, two Saints who had such a great influence on her life, the Sovereign Pontiff Benedict XV signed the decree for the formal Introduction of her Cause to the Sacred Congregation of Rites. That same year, the Process ' De non culto ' was approved, and in the following year a dispensation from the Process on the fame of sanctity was granted.


The Apostolic Processes on the virtues commenced immediately at Pisa a at the instance of the Sovereign Pontiff, and lasted from January 20, 1922, until December 20 of the same year. These Processes were suspended on the death of Benedict XV, but were opened again shortly after the election of Pius XI. Because the infirmity of some of the witnesses prevented their coming to Pisa, the Sacred Tribunal sat in Lucca for three weeks in May and October, and in the meantime the Holy See on its own account arranged for the interrogation of witnesses at Rome and Gaeta. Among the witnesses interrogated in these Processes-about fifty in number-there was one we must mention, Gemma's brother, Signor Guido Galgani, a chemist at Bagni di St. Giuliano (Pisa), whose evidence was taken just in time, for he died a holy death three months later.

Upon their completion these Processes were brought to Rome, where they were discussed and examined. In 1926, both the ordinary and Apostolic Processes were declared valid, and on June 28, 1927, the Antipreparatory Congregation on the virtues of Gemma Galgani was held at the home of Cardinal Gennaro Granito Pignatelli, Bishop of Albano, Ponent of the Cause. The Preparatory Congregation took place in the Vatican on April 24, 1928, and the General Congregation in the presence of the Sovereign Pontiff, on December 4 of the same year.

Three years passed before the reading of the Decree concerning the heroicity of the virtues of Gemma Galgani, years that seemed so long to her admirers and devout clients, but which constitute one more proof of the prudence with which the Church proceeds to her decisions.

Finally, on November 29, 1931, the long-awaited Decree was read, and at its conclusion the Holy Father gave a magnificent discourse in which he drew attention to the lessons that were to be learned from the life of Gemma Galgani at a time when the entire world was in such a sad state of distress. This Decree, according to the present legislation of the Church, gave to Gemma Galgani the title of Venerable.

On March 1, 1932, the validity of the Processes instituted to investigate two miracles alleged to be worked by the Venerable Servant of God was recognized and accepted. On April 26, of the same year, the Antipreparatory Congregation on the miracles mentioned was held. On October 25, 1932, the Preparatory Congregation, and on January 31, 1933, the General Congregation, took place. On the following Sunday, February 5, to the universal joy of the Catholic world, the Sovereign Pontiff Pius XI promulgated the Decree approving of the two miracles, namely, the instantaneous and perfect cure of Maria Menicucci, fifty years of age, who suffered from traumatic arthro-synovitis of the right knee, and the instantaneous and perfect cure of Father Ulysses Fabrizi, seventy-six years of age, who suffered from a serious varicose wound in the right tibia.


Maria Menicucci of Vitorchiano related, in 1924, the history of her illness thus: ' It was in 1884 when I was about thirty-five years old that I began to experience slight pain and a feeling of heaviness in my right knee. At the same time I had difficulty in walking and developed a limp. These troubles grew worse the more I walked; at the same time I noticed that my knee had swollen. Gradually this swelling became more noticeable. The flesh above the knee was of normal color, but when I sometimes touched it, I felt pain in other places although I do not now remember where. The pain ceased when I was lying down, but increased when the knee was moved. Any movement of the knee was painful, and there was besides a certain rigidity in the knee itself. I noticed also a crackling sound in the knee when I moved it. These troubles were greater towards evening after I had used the knee, and appeared less in the morning after the night's repose.'

Notwithstanding the sufferings she endured Maria Menicucci did not visit a doctor or take any remedies until 1900. The trouble therefore progressed steadily and she had frequent falls. In 1906 things had come to such a pass that she could no longer rest upon that joint and the knee appeared to be swollen and the foot twisted. It was then that another fall compelled her to go to Doctor Corseri of Vitorchiano, who gave the following account of this visit: ' I attest that the knee was swollen and painful to the touch. It was clearly established that there was a moderate quantity of fluid in the articular cavity. The movements of the joint were impeded and painful, and the patient could not rest the foot upon the ground.' He therefore declared that she was suffering from traumatic arthrosynovitis of the right knee. Two other doctors who saw Maria Menicucci agreed with this diagnosis.

The trouble, however, continued its course. , The symptoms in the knee,' attested the patient, ‘became gradually worse, for whether I was walking or standing resting on a stick my foot might at any moment twist and cause me to fall, and these falls made the knee worse. The doctor came to visit me several times and confirmed his diagnosis of synovitis. He sometimes added that it would be necessary to resect the knee-cap or even to amputate the leg above the knee.' The doctor naturally suggested the remedies that were most likely to be efficacious, but when tried they bore no fruit. He himself admitted this. 'The most efficacious therapeutic applications used in similar circumstances,' he said, 'had no result in this case after five months' treatment; the pain and the serious alteration in the functioning of the knee still persisted.'

This was the state of affairs when in 1907 Maria Menicucci had to go to Pistoia for a few months. But here things became worse than ever. Her falls were more frequent, the swelling increased in size and walking became more difficult. From Pistoia she went to Lucca with a relative who was entering the Passionist Convent there. The Mother Superior gave her a relic of Gemma Galgani and exhorted her to recommend herself with confidence to her inter-cession. Maria applied the relic to her knee and began a triduum to the Servant of God, but without result. On her return to Pistoia she began a novena, keeping the relic applied to her knee all the time. There was no change in her condition until the last day of the novena, when on her return from Mass she felt that she was cured. Her knee which had been swollen in the morning was found to be its normal size; all the pain and inconvenience had disappeared, and from that day there has been no return of her trouble. Her cure was therefore instantaneous, complete and lasting. The doctors expressed their great astonishment, and the experts deputed by the Sacred Congregation of Rites to enquire into the facts declared : 'The cure of the right knee of Signorina Maria Menicucci is outside the limits of a natural fact.'

The second miracle was worked in favour of a priest named Ulysses Fabrizi, of Canepina, who resided at Capraola in the diocese of Civita Castellana. On October 18, 1919, Father Fabrizi, who was then seventy-six years of age, knocked his right shin against a chair in his house, and suffered a slight abrasion from which blood flowed. Shortly after he began to feel his foot paining him and applied some remedies. At the end of a week, far from healing, the abrasion seemed to have developed into a wound so that he was advised to go to the doctor. However, he did not go, but for twelve days had recourse to remedies suggested by the Sisters at the Hospital. At the end of this time, seeing that there was no improvement, he took the advice of the Sisters and went to Ronciglione to see a doctor. However, although the doctor's prescriptions were faithfully carried out, the .wound continued to grow worse, so that he had to take to his bed. According to the doctor and to those who attended Father Fabrizi, it was a case of' varicose ulcer of the right leg.' The sight of the wound made a strong impression. It had increased in size to about seven or eight centimeters. It was a deep purple and along the edges there were small pustules. The cure was made difficult by the advanced age of the patient, who besides was suffering from other diseases.

In the evening of November 26, 1919, Father Fabrizi was suffering so much that a local chemist was called in, but he suggested that the prescriptions of the doctor in charge of the case should be continued and that he should go to Rome on the following day to see a specialist. The chemist described the state of the wound thus: ' The wound was about fifteen centimeters in length and seven in breadth. The edges were very much inflamed, swollen and lacerated. The surface was torn but covered here and there by dead tissue. I think there may have been a purulent secretion present. The wound was flat with deep cavities in some places, and of a palish red color. The physical and moral state of Father Fabrizi was depressed and he was feeling more pain and inconvenience. than on other days.'

The advice of the chemist worried Father Fabrizi very much, and when everyone had left his room he began to reflect upon what he ought to do. ‘Feeling upset and preoccupied by the necessity of going at my age to Rome,' he afterwards deposed, , I uttered a fervent prayer to the Servant of God, saying: "0 Gemma, cure this wound, for I desire to see thee raised to the Altars, and when that happens I shall die content!' " Then he closed his eyes, and slept well, a thing he had not done on the other nights.

On the following morning when the bandages were removed in order that the wound might be dressed, to the surprise of all, it was seen to be cured. Father Fabrizi was overjoyed. 'Gemma has done it,' he told all who asked how he was cured. He got up, walked about and experienced no pain whatever. Considering his age, the advanced state of the wound, and other circumstances, everyone was expecting his death, but, instead, he was perfectly restored to health. The medical experts who submitted the case to a minute and rigorous examination, agreed that in the night of November 26-27, 1919, the varicose ulcer of Father Fabrizi was healed instantaneously, perfectly and in a manner clearly opposed to physico-pathological laws and clinical experience, and they declared: 'With profound and clear consciousness of what we say, we affirm in the most explicit manner that the cure of Don Ulysses Fabrizi belongs to the supernatural sphere and must be regarded as miraculous.'


Heaven had spoken and the, Sovereign Pontiff in a Decree promulgated on February 19, 1933, declared that the Beatification of the Venerable Gemma Galgani might now be safely proceeded with. The Ponent of the Cause, Cardinal Granito Pignatelli, could now rest satisfied; the diocese of Lucca and the Passionist Congregation could now exult with pride at the honor that was soon to be bestowed upon them; and the multitude of the devout clients of Gemma could glory in the coming exaltation of their heavenly protectress.

Gemma Galgani was beatified on May 14, 1933, the fourth Sunday after Easter. In St. Peter's, Rome, under Michael Angelo's dome, and framed in Bernini's Rays, the picture of this meek and humble girl was seen surrounded with glory. Once more the words of the Holy Ghost were verified to the letter: 'God, who setteth up the humble on high' (Job v, II). The triumph of Blessed Gemma recalls the message that went forth from Rome in the Jubilee year of the Redemption, and was echoed throughout the world: 'Oh miserable modern world, return to the consideration of the Passion of Christ; take refuge in His Wounds!'
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