Sometimes, people discover saints, like how many teenagers and young adults search for a good saint for their Confirmation name. And other times, the saints have a way of finding you. For me, I got introduced to Saint Gemma Galgani through my friend Amy over on Catholic Girl Bloggin.
I learned a lot more about Saint Gemma on her feast day, which was about a month ago. It comforted me when I learned that Gemma never became a religious sister. She was in poor health and didn’t qualify to be a Passionist Nun like she wanted to be. Instead, she became a lay Passionist, wearing all-black and keeping the badge of the Passionists close to her. She never officially took any vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, but she essentially lived out the life of a nun. She chose to stay single, to devote her entire life to serving Christ. It’s very inspiring to me, as a modern day single woman. I don’t have to be married or be part of a religious order if I want to serve Christ. As Saint Therese said, “My vocation is love.”
Back to Saint Gemma, though. Like my other Sister Saint, Saint Gemma had a great devotion to Saint Gabriel Possenti, who, like her, died young, but lived his life serving Christ as a Passionist. She also lost her mother at a very early age and her father passed away when she was 19. She was adopted into the Giannini family and lived a simple life. By modern standards, Gemma seems too perfect, too sheltered, too good to be true. As the saying goes, however, still waters run deep.
The aspect of Saint Gemma’s life that I admire the most is her interior life, especially her periods of spiritual warfare. Like a Slayer, she constantly battled demons who attacked her on a daily basis. This fight would go on and off up until her death. The last battle she had was the worst because she experienced a heartbreaking desolation, the kind that Mother Teresa would endure. And yet, she kept to her resolve, her loyalty, her devotion to Christ. It’s no wonder that I call her “the little ninja saint” because while her life wasn’t anything that would stand out in worldly terms, she fought evil in the shadows. As of now, she’s one of my go-to saints whenever I have to deal with my own spiritual warfare.
If you want to know more about Saint Gemma, check out this website that has tons of pictures and biographical information. Also, check out Amy’s Victim Soul series on her blog, which dives into Gemma’s spiritual warfare with epic dramatic detail.