Possenti, Gabriel, St.

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Commonly known as St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, Passionist seminarian; b. Assisi, Italy, March 1, 838; d. Isola del Gran Sasso (Teramo), Italy, Feb. 271862. Francesco (his baptismal name) was the 11th of 13 children of Sante and Agnese (Frisciotti) Possenti. His father was governor of Assisi and later assessor of Spoleto. Until 1856 Francesco studied at the Jesuit college in Spoleto, where he was known for meticulousness in dress, fondness for dancing and the theater, and an inclination to vanity. After twice failing to fulfill promises to enter religion made during grave illness, he experienced, while watching a religious procession honoring the miraculous icon of Spoleto, a strong urge to follow his vocation. Despite his father's objections he joined the passionists at Morrovalle (1856) and took as his name in religion Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows. During the next six years he was a model seminarian, exact in his observance of his religious rule and noted for his spirit of prayer and penance. His spiritual director singled out devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary as his preeminent characteristic and the source of his spirituality. He received minor orders in 1861 but died before advancing to major orders. He was beatified May 31, 1908, and canonized May 13, 1920. He has been declared patron of the Abruzzi region and copatron of Italian Catholic youth.

Feast: Feb. 27.

Bibliography: e. burke, Happy Was My Youth (Westminster, Md. 1962). g. poage, Son of the Passion (Milwaukee 1962; Boston 1977). v. fuente rodrÍguez, San Gabriel de la Dolorosa, pasionista (Madrid 1973). f. d'anastasio, San Gabriele dell'Addolorata (San Gabriele 1995). g. cingolani, Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, tr. s. b. zak (New York 1997); Saint Gabriel Possenti, Passionist: A Young Man in Love, tr. s. b. zak (New York 1997).

[e. burke]