By Mel Mantanona
A favorite saint for many young people is St. Gemma Galgani, also known as “The Gem of Christ” or the “Passion Flower.” Born on Mar. 12, 1878 in a small Italian town, the future mystic and stigmatist possessed a deep love for Christ and prayer.
Gemma became chronically ill in her adolescence and had to quit school. She was often ridiculed for her faith but took comfort in knowing that the Lord himself was mocked and misunderstood. She had a great love for God’s people especially the poor. Her father died when she was 19 and she ended up caring for her seven siblings. Two men asked for her hand in marriage, but Gemma declined their proposals because she wanted to live a life completely devoted and consecrated to God.
In her early adult life, she contracted meningitis. She hated being sick only because of the trouble it caused her family members to care for her. Gemma would pray fervently to Gabriel Possenti, a Venerable Passionist, and by his intercession, she was cured from the disease.
She wished to become a nun for the Passionists but was rejected due to her health. Today, her relics lie at the Passionist monastery in Italy. At the age of 21, she had a vision of Jesus and received the stigmata, the five wounds of our Lord Jesus Christ. The wounds would appear every Thursday evening following visions of our Lord and bleed and remain open until Friday or Saturday morning when the wounds would close.
She lived the rest of her life suffering and extremely devoted to God through prayer. She held a very close relationship with her guardian angel and would often receive visions from the Lord.
Gemma died from tuberculosis at the age of 25 on Holy Saturday and her feast day is Apr. 11. She is the patron saint against the death of parents, against temptations, against tuberculosis and meningitis, back pain and spinal illnesses, and of students and pharmacists.
Information and photo from Catholic.org