april 14. gemma galgani, the mystical gem of god
Patron saint of loss of parents, parachutists, paratroopers, pharmacists, students, those seeking pureness of heart, those suffering back injuries or back pain, those suffering from migraines, those struggling with temptations to impurity.
Lived 1878 - 1903
Gemma's mother passed away when she was a little girl, and this was "a sword of suffering upon her little heart." Gemma suffered from tuberculosis of the spine with aggravated curvature and, though she considered herself cured by a vision of the young Saint Gabriel Possenti, she could not obtain a certificate of health permitting her entrance to a convent.
Gemma was often found in a state of ecstasy. In her dining room, there hung a large crucifix that the whole family venerated. At least once, she found herself raised from the floor with her arms around the crucifix while kissing the wound on the side of Christ Crucified.
DATE WITH AN ANGEL
Gemma's guardian angel was her familiar and he appeared on almost every page of her diary. Her confessor wrote that she "saw him with her eyes, touched him with her hands as if he were a being of this world, remained talking with him as one friend with another." When the angel told her that Christ himself had put him in charge of her, "the angelic girl stood rapt in ecstasy with her angel."
In ecstasies, Gemma lost the use of her senses. One could prick, burn, or shake her and she wouldn't feel it. The angel sometimes let her see him raised in the air with outspread wings, his hands extended over her or joined in an attitude of prayer. The angel was her protector. He delivered sealed letters on her behalf, and once when a blasphemer's words caused Gemma to faint, he swooped down and caught her before she dashed her head on the floor.
BABY'S FIRST STIGMATA
When Gemma was 21 and in rapture, Our Lady appeared to her and wrapped her in her heavenly mantle. Gemma said: "Jesus appeared with His wounds all open; blood was not flowing from them, but flames of fire which in one moment came and touched my hands, feet, and heart. I felt I was dying, and I should have fallen down but for my Mother who supported me and kept me under her cloak. Thus I remained for several hours. Then my Mother kissed my forehead, the vision disappeared, and I found myself on my knees; but I still felt a keen pain in my hands, feet and heart. I got up to get into bed and saw that blood was coming from the places where I had the pain. I covered them as well as I could and then, helped by my guardian angel, got into bed."
To ensure that they were not self-inflicted, Gemma's scrupulous confessor observed the gradual appearance and disappearance of her stigmata wounds, collecting data. It would start on Thursday evenings as a discoloration on the back and palms of each hand, then a 'rent in the flesh' under the skin which then split and become a deep laceration. It was hard to judge if the holes went all the way through, because they kept "firing up with blood" that was half flowing / half congealed. Her confessor measured the diameters and shapes of the sores and noted that an inch-thick "fleshy swelling" resembling a nail's head covered her hand wounds. On Friday, Gemma would heal, and by Sunday "not a vestige remained of the deep cavities ( . . . ) though 'whitish marks'" could be observed.
ULCERS BE GONE!
In three instances, Gemma's relics have cured sufferers of cancerous ulcers.