“I am happy in every way that Jesus wills, and if Jesus wants the sacrifice of my life, I give it to Him at once. If He wants anything else, I am ready. One thing alone is enough for me; to be his victim, in order to atone for my innumerable sins, and if possible, for those of the whole world”.
Gemma was not a person of half measures. She loved God with all of her being and Jesus was everything to her.
“Can’t you see that as soon as day breaks I think of You? As evening comes I am near You in every moment. I love You Jesus!”.
I was born on 12 March 1878 in Camigliano, a village near Lucca in Italy. I was the fifth of seven children. My father was a chemist called Enrico. My mother, Aurelia did her very best to make me a good christian. My Mum would always pick me up and hold me in her arms. She often used to cry and I could never understand why. My mother made me understand that she was very ill and that soon she will be going to heaven. When she saw how worried and sad I was she said “One day, if you are able would you come with me to the place to which Jesus is calling me? To Paradise with Jesus and the Angels?”. This invitation filled me with joy! But my mother knew that she could not take me with her to heaven. So she prayed for my spiritual future and entrusted my soul to the Holy Spirit. When I was seven years of age I completed my religious instruction in preparation for the Sacrament of Confirmation. Confirmation which I recieved on 26 May 1885.
While in church as I was praying for my mother a sudden voice spoke into my heart.
“Are you willing to give me your mother?”
“Yes” I replied, “provided you take me also!”
“No,” said the voice, ” give me your mother of your own will. For the present you must remain with your father. I will take you to her in Heaven later.”
I had to say yes, and when the Mass was finished I ran home. But I was still afraid to leave my mothers side in case she left without me. I would climb up on my mother’s bed and put my arms around her neck and kiss her. The doctors then suggested that I be kept away from the sick room because my mum had tuberculosis. Finally my father who feared I would die before her sent me to stay with my uncle. Four months later my mum passed away. It was on 17 September 1885.
In 1887 my father, being a good Catholic, placed me under the care of Sister Elena Guerra at her school run by nuns. I wanted to learn more about Christ’s sufferings and His passion. My Mistress, Sister Catherine Vagliensi, began to tell me something everyday, choosing an hour for the recital when the other children were in bed. One evening she described the Crucifixion, the crowning with thorns, and all the other sufferings of Jesus so vividly, that the sorrow and compassion I felt brought on a high fever and I had to remain in bed the whole day after. Every day, I had a part of the Passion explained to me. Often when reflecting on my sins and on my ingratitude towards Jesus we began to weep together.
17 June 1887 was my first Holy Communion. I cannot explain in words the feelings I felt when I felt the presence of Jesus so strongly in my soul! I felt completely taken by the desire to be forever united with my God! I wanted to make some good resolutions, to always be faithful to Communion and to Confession. To visit Jesus in the Holy Sacrament and to always be in God’s presence. To ask every day the Heavenly Mother for her blessing.
On Thursday 8 June 1899, Jesus told me that an unusual grace was to be granted to me. In the evening I felt an intense sorrow for my sins. I fell into a state of rapture and found myself in the presence of my Heavenly Mother and my Guardian Angel. My Heavenly Mother covered me with her mantle and said
“My Son Jesus loves thee beyond measure, and wishes to give thee a grace.”
At that moment Jesus appeared, the wounds from His Passion issuing flames of fire. As Those flames came to touch my hands, my feet and my heart I felt as if I were dying. I should have fallen to the ground had not my Mother held me up, while all the time I remained beneath her mantle. Once the vision was over I felt a tremendous pain in my hands and feet, and realised that blood was flowing freely from them. That pain and that sorrow, instead of distressing me, gave me perfect peace.
In 1902 Gemma offered herself to God as a victim for the salvation of sinners. 21 September 1902 she fell dangerously ill with tuberculosis. Gemma died on 11 April 1903 on Holy Saturday.
“I seek for nothing more ; I have made the sacrifice of everything and of everyone to God ; now I prepare to die. Now it is indeed true that nothing more remains to me. Jesus, I commend my poor soul to Thee.
Gemma Galgani was canonized by Pope Pius XII on 2 May 1940.
This is only an introduction. For everything you need to know about St Gemma Galgani including her extensive autobiography, writings, quotes, articles along with official photographs and numerous examples of her heroic life please visit: www.stgemmagalgani.com/
“You know, oh Jesus how I am to sacrifice myself in everything. I will bear every sort of pain for Thee!”
– Saint Gemma Galgani