16th May – Feast of St. Gemma Galgani

From the Decretal Letter Sanctitudinis Culmen of Pope Pius XII

The distinguished servant of God, Gemma, earnestly committed herself to the spiritual life. With her adopted mother, the notable Mrs. Cecilia Gianinni, she had long discussions about Jesus and spiritual things. Avoiding the frothiness of society life, she spent much time in fervent contemplation of the passion of Christ. Day and night she was engaged in intimate communion with God. Reliable witnesses testify that, during the last years of her life, the servant of God, Gemma, was often in a state of rapture and was favoured by God with prolonged ecstasies and unusual gifts, such as we read about in the lives of many saints. Among these divine favours was the very special one of manifesting in her virginal flesh the living image of Christ and sharing mysteriously in the various sufferings of his passion. She felt her hands and feet pierced by nails and her side wounded with a lance. At times, the stigmata, or scars of the wounds were visible. It is reported that she saw an apparition of the Lord Jesus himself and of the Blessed Mother. She experienced the presence of her guardian angel as a familiar friend, and frequently held conversations with him. There were other unusual manifestations of grace, which Gemma described in detail at the order of her spiritual director. They seem to indicate clearly that there was such a union of mind and heart between this chosen virgin Gemma and Christ that she could say with the apostle Paul: I have been crucified with Christ, and the life I live now is not my own; Christ is living in me.

For some time, the servant of God has desired to enter a religious community, and thought she was being called to the Passionist Nuns. She felt that God was inviting her to greater austerity and more intensive contemplation of the passion of Christ. Since this is the main mission, a kind of sacred heritage that St. Paul of the Cross left to the religious he founded, Gemma asked more than once to be admitted into the cloistered convent at Tarquinia. But there were obstacles, particularly her poor health and the publicity that had been occasioned by her extraordinary graces. Eventually her illness progessed to such a point that it ruined all hope of her entering. But even though she could not become a member of the cloistered Passionist community, she deserved to be considered a member of it because she had professed private vows.

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One Response to “16th May – Feast of St. Gemma Galgani”

  1. Glenn Dallaire Says:

    Regarding her affection for the Passionists, a year before her death she in fact said of them -“They do not want me in life, but they will have me in death”. And that is exactly what happened….Glenn Dallaire

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