Saint Gemma

Gemma cured by Miracle :

Gemma soon began to grow ill. She developed a curvature of the spine. Also, meningitis set in and left her deaf. Large abscesses formed on her head, her hair fell off, and finally her limbs became paralyzed. A doctor was called in and tried many remedies which all failed. She only grew worse.

Gemma began a devotion to Venerable Gabriel Possenti of the Sorrowful Mother (Now St. Gabriel). On her sickbed she read his life story. She later wrote regarding Venerable Gabriel:

“… I grew in admiration of his virtues and his ways. My devotion to him increased. At night I did not sleep without having his picture under my pillow, and after that I began to see him near me. I don’t know how to explain this, but I felt his presence. At all times and in every action Brother Gabriel came to mind.”

Gemma, now 20 years old, was seemingly on her deathbed. A novena was suggested as the only chance for a cure. At midnight on February 23rd, 1899, she heard the rattling of a rosary and realized that Venerable Gabriel was appearing to her. He spoke to Gemma:

“Do you wish to recover? Pray with faith every evening to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I will come to you until the Novena is ended, and will pray together to this Most Sacred Heart.”

On the first Friday of March the Novena ended. The grace was granted; Gemma was cured.
As she got up, those around her cried with joy. Yes, a miracle had taken place!

On the 8th of June 1899, after receiving communion, Our Lord let His servant know that the same evening He would give her a very great grace.

Gemma went home and prayed. She went into ecstasy and felt a great remorse for sin. The Blessed Mother, to whom St. Gemma was tremendously devoted, appeared to her and spoke:

“My son Jesus loves thee beyond measure and wishes to give thee a grace. I will be a mother to thee. Wilt thou be a true child?” The Most Blessed Virgin then opened her mantle and covered Gemma in it.

Here is how St. Gemma relates how she received the stigmata:

“At that moment Jesus appeared with all his wounds open, but from these wounds there no longer came forth blood, but flames of fire. In an instant these flames came to touch my hands, my feet and my heart. I felt as if I were dying, and should have fallen to the ground had not my mother held me up, while all the time I remained beneath her mantle. I had to remain several hours in that position. Finally she kissed my forehead, all vanished, and I found myself kneeling. But I still felt great pain in my hands, feet and heart. I rose to go to bed, and became aware that blood was flowing from those parts where I felt pain. I covered them as well as I could, and then helped by my Angel, I was able to go to bed …”

During the remainder of Gemma's life, several people, including respected ecclesiastics of the Church, witnessed this recurring miracle of the holy stigmata to the pius maiden of Lucca. One eyewitness stated:

“Blood came from her (St. Gemma’s) wounds in great abundance. When she was standing, it flowed to the ground, and when in bed it not only wet the sheets, but saturated the whole mattress. I measured some streams or pools of this blood, and they were from twenty to twenty-five inches long and about two inches wide.”

Like St. Francis of Assisi and recently Padre Pio, Gemma can too say: Nemo mihi molestus sit. Ego enim stigmata Domini Jesu in corpore meo porto: Let no man harm me, for I bear the marks of the Lord Jesus in my body.

St. Gemma’s Devotion to her Guardian Angel :

Gemma’s Guardian Angel would frequently appear to her. They would carry on a conversation the same way as if one were speaking to his best friend. Gemma’s purity and innocence must have drawn this Glorious Angel from Heaven to her side. Gemma and her Angel with his wings outstretched or kneeling beside her, would recite vocal prayers or Psalms alternately. When meditating on the Passion of Our Lord, her Angel would inspire her with the most sublime insights into this mystery. Her Guardian Angel once spoke to her regarding Christ’s Agonies: 

“Look at what Jesus has suffered for man. Consider one by one these Wounds. It is Love that has opened them all. See how execrable (horrible) sin is, since to expiate it, so much pain and so much love have been necessary.”

St. Gemma’s Last Illness and Heroic Death :

In 1902 Gemma in good health since her miraculous cure, offered herself to God as a victim for the salvation of souls. Jesus accepted her offer. She then fell dangerously ill. She could not keep any food down. Though briefly recovering her health, through Divine Providence, she quickly fell sick again. On September 21, 1902 she began to throw up pure blood that came with the violent loving throbbings of her heart. Meanwhile she went through a spiritual martyrdom as she experienced aridity and no consolation in her spiritual exercises. To add to that her enemy the devil multiplied his attacks on the young Virgin of Lucca.

Satan redoubled his war on Gemma as he knew the end was near. He strove to persuade her that she was entirely abandoned by God. He used hellish apparitions and even rained physical blows on her fragile body.

An eyewitness who was nursing Gemma said:

“That abominable beast will be the end of our dear Gemma - deafening blows, forms of ferocious animals, etc.- I came away from her with tears because the demon is wearing her out.”

Gemma unceasingly called on the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, still the battle waged on. Her Spiritual Director Fr. Germano regarding Gemma’s last struggle stated:

“The poor sufferer passed days, weeks and months in this way, giving us an example of heroic patience and motives for salutary fear of what may happen to us, who have not Gemma’s merits at the terrible hour of death.”

Yet through all these trials Gemma never complained, she only prayed. Gemma was at the end. She was practically a living skeleton but still beautiful despite the ravages of her sickness. She was administered Viaticum.

In her last words she said:

“I seek for nothing more; I have made the sacrifice of everything and of everyone to God; now I prepare to die.” She gasped, “Now it is indeed true that nothing more remains to me, Jesus. I recommend my poor soul to Thee … Jesus!"

Gemma then smiled a heavenly smile and letting her head drop on one side, ceased to live.

One of the sisters present at her death clothed Gemma’s body in the habit of the Passionists, which was the order to which Gemma had always aspired.

This blessed death happened on Holy Saturday April 11th, 1903 when Gemma Galgani was in her 25th year.