Majella, Gerard, St.

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Redemptorist lay brother and mystic; b. Muro Lucano (Potenza), Italy, April 6, 1726; d. Caposele (Avellino), Oct. 16, 1755. Left fatherless at an early age, he was apprenticed to a tailor, Martin Pannuto, and endured the persecution of a journeyman who did not understand his gifts of grace and ascetical practices. Later as a servant of the irascible bishop of Lacedonga, he bore with patience three years of misery. After he was refused admission to the Capuchins because of his youth, he lived for a while as a hermit, and then applied for entrance into the Redemptorists. Paul Cafaro rejected him at first because of his frail health but gave way to his persistence, sending him to the novitiate at Deliceto in 1749 with the written message, "I send you a useless laybrother." At Deliceto as porter, sacristan, and tailor, he startled all with his zeal and ability. After his profession (July 16, 1752), the phenomena of his mystical life commenced. He had powers of bilocation, could discern spirits, and control the forces of nature. His many miracles and conversions earned him the title of wonder-worker. At one time he was accused of immorality by a young woman, Neria Caggiano, and his forbearance and trust until his innocence was established further tested his sanctity. He died of consumption when he was 29, at the day and hour he had foretold. He was beatified by leo xiii, Jan. 29, 1893, and canonized by St. pius x, Dec. 11, 1904.

Feast: Oct. 16.

Bibliography: a. m. tannoja, The Lives of the Companions of St. Alphonsus Liguori, tr. London Oratory (London 1849) 241453. j. carr, To Heaven through a Window, St. Gerald Majella (New York 1949). n. ferrante, Storia meravigliosa di San Gerardo Majella (Rome 1955). j. h. m. evers, Historisch repertorium met betrekking tot Wittem als bedevaartsoord (Heerlen 1986). San Gerardo tra spiritualità e storia, ed. g. de rosa (Materdomini, Italy 1993). a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, rev. ed. h. thurston and d. attwater, 4 v. (New York 1956) 4:131134. d. de felipe, San Gerardo Mayela (Madrid 1954).

[m. j. curley]