I was first introduced to Saint Gemma from my friend Amy. Before that I only knew her name and not much about the lady herself. Gemma is not as famous as the other saints I’ve talked about before, and her life is not easy to relate to. But like all the other saints, I found parts of Gemma’s life that resonated with mine.
One thing I struggle with a lot is a fear of uncertainty. I always want something to be certain. I make plans and backup plans and assume that everything will work out somehow. Of course, as they say, the best laid plans are more than likely to go awry. Nothing in my life really worked out the way I thought it would, for better or for worse. One thing about Saint Gemma that I noticed right away was that she had a lot of uncertainty in her life.
Gemma Galgani lost her mother when she was 8, her brother when she was 16, and became an orphan at the age of 18. Since she came from a poor family, she also lost her home. It would be three years before she found a new family to live with. In those three years, she suffered from spinal issues and tried to enter into religious life, but was turned down. Then, when she was only 24 years old, she contracted tuberculosis and suffered for seven months before she died on April 11, 1903 at the age of 25.
I also forgot to mention something else. Throughout her life, Gemma would have constant mystical experiences: visions, psychological and emotional suffering, and attacks from the Devil. It’s basically like experiencing the strongest, most irresistible temptations mixed in with panic attacks and nightmares 24/7. The last battle she had was the worst because she experienced a heartbreaking desolation towards the end of her life.
In spite of all this, she never gave into her fears or the temptations that plagued her. Instead, she persevered. She kept to her resolve, her loyalty, her devotion to Christ. It’s no wonder that I call her “my little ninja”, because while her life wasn’t anything that would stand out in worldly terms, she fought evil in the shadows. Gemma taught me perseverance and integrity. In spite of her poor health, she dedicated her life to serving God. She stayed single and lived the life of a lay Passionist since she was denied being a Passionist nun.
The best thing we can learn from Saint Gemma is that no matter how bad our lives get, we can never give up our faith in God. Through whatever nightmares, anxieties, and temptations we suffer, we can endure all things through Christ who gives us strength. I hope that Saint Gemma can help you persevere in whatever uncertainties are affecting your life.
Reflect: How did God help you through a period of suffering? Did you ever give up on God because of hardships?
Reflect: Which aspect of Saint Gemma’s life do you relate to the most? What do you find difficult to understand?
Act: Ask Saint Gemma for her intercession in whatever anxieties you’re dealing with right now.