Galgani, Gemma, St.

views updated


Italian mystic; b. Borgo Nuovo di Camigliano, near Lucca, Italy, March 12, 1878; d. Lucca, April 11, 1903. She was born of pious parents, Enrico and Aurelia (Landi) Galgani, and was educated by the Sisters of St. Zita, whose foundress, Bl. Elena guerra, was one of her teachers. Her mother died in 1886. Her father's death (1896) left her in extreme poverty. Her remaining years were spent in the large household of Matteo Giannini in Lucca. Serious recurring illnesses, which plagued her from childhood, prevented her from joining the Passionist nuns. From her early years she meditated on Christ's sufferings. Gemma had visions of Christ, the Blessed Virgin, and her guardian angel; she experienced stigmatization and other physical phenomena of Christ's Passion, such as the sweat of blood, scourging, and the crowning with thorns. At times she was disturbed by diabolical manifestations, but her life was for the most part retired and quiet. She was a model of humility, obedience, poverty, and especially of patience in illnesses and tribulations. She was beatified May 14, 1933, and canonized May 3, 1940. The cult of St. Gemma became quite popular after the publication in 1941 of her correspondence with her spiritual director, Germano di San Stanislao Ruoppolo, CP.

Feast: May 14.

Bibliography: Gesù solo, ed. g. pollice (Rome 1978); Letters of St. Gemma Galgani, ed. germano of st. stanislaus, tr. Dominican nuns of Corpus Christi monastery (New York 1947); Estasi, diario, autobiografia, scritti vari di s. Gemma Galgani, ed. germano of st. stanislaus (Rome 1943). j. jorgensen, Gemma e altre storie lucchesi, ed., l. del zanna (Lucca 1983). g. agresti, Ritratto della espropriata (Lucca 1978). a. carrara, Gemma Galgani (Florence 1977). j. f. villepelÉe, La folie de la Croix (Hauteville 1977). e. zoffoli, La povera Gemma (Rome 1957). sister saint michael, Portrait of St. Gemma, a Stigmatic (New York 1950). j. l. baudot and l. chaussin, Vies des saints et des bien-heueux selon l'ordre du calendrier avec l'historique des fêtes, ed. by The Benedictines of Paris, 12 v. (Paris 193556) 4:272275. a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, ed. h. thurston and d. attwater, 4 v. (New York 1956) 2:7576.

[f. g. sottocornola]