Today the Church celebrates St. Gemma Galgani, virgin, mystic, and patron of pharmacists.
Gemma Galgani was born in Lucca, Italy on March 12, 1878, the fourth of eight children. Her mother, who had been a very caring woman, died at the age of thirty - five when Gemma was only seven.
For the next eighteen years the family experienced much grief and misfortune. Gemma looked after her brother who had tuberculosis and who died when he was eighteen. Her father was a prosperous pharmacist but the prolonged illness of others in the family was a drain on his resources and the family was reduced to poverty. To add to this, Gemma's father developed cancer of the throat and Gemma nursed him with great care until his death.
Gemma had an immense love for the poor, and helped them in any way she could. After her father's death, the nineteen - year -old Gemma became the mother of her seven brothers and sisters.
At age 20, Gemma, who from an early age had known loss and bereavement, 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 her limbs became paralyzed. A doctor examined her and attempted many remedies which all failed. She only grew worse. Her condition was such that she was helpless and dependent on others. By praying a novena to St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother (who was then Venerable Gabriel) she was miraculously cured.
Gemma bore the stigmata, receiving the wounds of Christ on her hands and feet each Thursday evening through Friday afternoon beginning in June 1889 and continuing into 1901. As a visionary, she saw her guardian angel daily, who protected and consoled her, and occasionally scolded her for her faults.
Gemma had a profound prayer life and a deep union with God. She attended Mass twice a day, while receiving communion once. She faithfully said her rosary, and in the evening, went to vespers. She never neglected any of her other duties.
In 1902, Gemma in good health since her miraculous cure, gave herself to God as a victim soul, offering her suffering for the salvation of souls. Jesus accepted her offer. She then became seriously ill. Though briefly recovering her health, through Divine Providence, she soon became ill again.
She died at on Holy Saturday, April 11, at the age of 25 and was canonized just 37 years after her death.
Quote:“If you really want to love Jesus, first learn to suffer, because suffering teaches you to love.”