Gemma Galgani was born on March 12, 1878, as the fifth of eight children in her family. She was an obedient and quiet child who shared her beautiful smile with everyone. She was also exceptionally intelligent and wise at a young age. Early in her life, she longed to be united to the Lord’s divine heart. Recognizing this, Gemma’s mother arranged for her to receive her Confirmation at the age of eight. This event was the beginning of Gemma’s self-surrender to God’s will, which inevitably led to her total unification to Christ crucified.
Shortly after being confirmed, Gemma heard an inner voice ask for her consent to be separated from the mother whom she loved so dearly. Though certainly pained by such a thought, she unreservedly offered herself to God’s holy will. Eventually, her mother fell ill and passed into eternal slumber. No longer having her mother to speak to her of Jesus, Gemma became consumed by a desire for Holy Communion, but her family refused her request. A priest, however, convinced Gemma’s father to permit her to receive Holy Communion, explaining that she would die of longing and grief if unable to do so.
Jesus offered Gemma all the sweetness of consolation following her First Holy Communion. As her love for the Blessed Sacrament increased, she offered herself absolutely to Christ and asked him to use every fiber of her being as sacrifice for the conversion of souls.
As this prayer took root in her heart, she began her own spiritual journey to Calvary. First, her brother fell ill and she had to drop out of school to tend to him. Tragically, he died from his sickness. Gemma then developed a painful disease, which made it difficult for her to care for her family. Soon afterwards, her father fell into bankruptcy, developed throat cancer, and died. Orphaned and caring for her siblings, Gemma was then diagnosed with tuberculosis. After a painful year she was miraculously healed. Instead of becoming bitter from her pain, Gemma united her suffering to Christ crucified and offered herself as a living sacrifice for the salvation of souls.
“…Jesus, do not leave these poor sinners to themselves. I am willing to do something. You died on the cross; make me die too…you have so many sinners, but so few victims…”
Gemma’s spiritual journey through suffering conformed her sprit so completely to Christ that she was blessed with the stigmata, ecstasies, and was even allowed to meet her guardian angel. In ecstasy she prayed, “…Jesus, do not leave these poor sinners to themselves. I am willing to do something. You died on the cross; make me die too…you have so many sinners, but so few victims…” Gemma’s life was clearly a journey through Good Friday, and on Holy Saturday at the age of 25, she entered into the Resurrection of our Lord.
“You, Jesus…are the flame of my heart. My Jesus I want to love you with my whole soul…all the Saints of Heaven, all of you, loan me your hearts.”
Gemma desired only to love Christ with her entire heart and submit herself wholly to His will for her. She prayed, “You, Jesus…are the flame of my heart. My Jesus I want to love you with my whole soul…all the Saints of Heaven, all of you, loan me your hearts.” Her example is an inspiration for us to continually submit to God’s loving, though often confounding, ways.
Feast Day: April 11