A new fictional series exploring the life of St. Gemma Galgani.
Note: This is part of a serial fiction series focusing on the life of St. Gemma Galgani, following the life of a fictional character as she encounters the saint. New chapters are released every Sunday!
“Poor Gemma, she suffers so much. I hope this will cheer her up.”
Maria knew the Galgani family very well. She was their neighbor in Lucca, and followed with pain the terrible news of each family member that passed away.
At first it was Gemma’s older brother, then her sister Giulia and then her mother. It didn’t stop there, as Gemma’s brother Gino died while studying for the priesthood.
What was even worse was that Gemma’s father died shortly after she turned 18 years old.
With no parents, Gemma became the “mother” to her remaining siblings. It was difficult to watch, and for a long time it seemed that Gemma would be in perpetual mourning, always burying another family member.
How could God allow such devastation to happen to a family?
And now, Gemma herself was in such great pain! The doctors keep coming by to bother her, but never know what to do. Some say it has something to do with her spine, but nothing they do ever works.
Then one day Maria knew what she needed to do.
A priest friend of hers had told her all about a holy young man, whose cause for canonization was underway. His name was “Venerable Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows.” He had had a great devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows and had experienced much of the pain that Gemma was feeling right now. Surely Gabriel could help Gemma see the light!
As Maria walked up to the Galgani door, two doctors came out, vigorously discussing Gemma’s state.
“It is hopeless! She will either die or remain paralyzed for life.”
This news worried Maria, and she scurried past the doctors and into the home, heading straight to Gemma’s room.
Gemma was sobbing uncontrollably, and Maria went up to her bedside to comfort her.
“What is it, little Gemma? Why do you cry so much?”
“These doctors are useless! All they do is bring me more pain!”
“Why do you say that, dear one? They want to help you!”
Gemma shook her head and said, “I don’t think so! Some of the doctors say it is a spinal disease, but one insisted that it was hysteria!! Oh, how I wish I could die!”
She returned to sobbing into her hands while Maria gently rubbed her back.
“Little child, I know your situation looks hopeless, but God must have a plan, no? I have something for you that I think will help!”
Maria presented Gemma with a book. “Here, this is the life of Venerable Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows.” she told her young friend. “You need to read this. His life is not much different from your own. He experienced great sorrow and pain, but instead of wallowing in it, he turned to Our Lady.”
Gemma took the book and almost threw it across the room, “Are you serious? How could this religious boy teach me anything? Take it back!”
Maria insisted, “No, you must take it. I am not leaving this room until you promise to read it.”
This really annoyed Gemma. What was this old lady doing, telling her to read a silly old book?
“Fine! I’ll take it! Now go away!” Almost immediately she stuffed the book underneath her pillow. That’ll shut her up!
“Please, little Gemma, I know your mother and father would want you to learn about this holy saint. It will give you comfort in your suffering.”
“Stop calling me ‘little’! I am nearly 21 years old! Now get away from me and let me cry alone!! You know nothing about my parents!!”
Maria knew it was her time to leave. Poor Gemma! Maria resolved to pray fervently for her heart to change. If only she would understand that there is more to life than suffering! How her suffering could be turned into something beautiful!
Maria thought to herself, “I will come back next week to check on her. God is always faithful, and I am certain he will show her the way!”
Come back next Sunday for the next chapter!