Saint Gemma Galgani, the "Passion Flower", was an Italian mystic, spiritualist, and stigmatist who lived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She was born on March 12th, 1878, in Camigliano, Italy and died on April 11th, 1903, at the age of 25.
Gemma was born into a poor but devout Catholic family, and from a young age she displayed a deep love for God and a desire to live a life of piety and service. Despite suffering from a spinal condition that caused her great pain, she was known for her cheerful and positive disposition. Throughout her short life, Gemma served as an example of holiness, dedicating her life to God and to the service of others. She was known for her charity and selflessness, often sacrificing her own needs in order to help those in need.
One of the most notable events in Gemma's life was her experience of the stigmata, which began in 1899 and continued until her death. The stigmata is a phenomenon in which the wounds of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ are said to appear on a person's body, and Saint Gemma is one of the few individuals in the history of the Catholic Church to have been officially recognized as a stigmatist.
Gemma's devotion to God and her experiences of the supernatural earned her a reputation as a mystic and spiritualist, and many people sought her out for advice and guidance.
Gemma fell gravely ill beginning in September, 1902. At first, she was able to leave her bed for a short time with great difficulty to attend Mass and receive Holy Communion. But eventually as her illness progressed, she was compelled to offer to God this sacrifice of total confinement, amidst ever increasing pain and suffering. The majority of the doctors who evaluated Gemma declared that she had tuberculosis, however given the variety of symptoms, several doctors thought it was something new and unknown. She was ill for many months and experienced extreme pain and suffering. Gemma died on Holy Saturday, April 11th, 1903 after months of agony.
Saint Gemma was canonized by the Roman Catholic Church on May 2nd, 1940 by Pope Pius XII and her feast day is celebrated on April 11th. She is the patron saint of students, pharmacists, and those who suffer from spinal problems. She is buried in the Sanctuary of Saint Gemma in Lucca, Italy.
In addition to her experiences of the stigmata and her devotion to God, Saint Gemma was also known for her spiritual writings, including letters to her spiritual director, Fr. Germanus Ruoppolo, which offer insight into her spiritual life and experiences.
Saint Gemma Galgani was a remarkable woman who dedicated her young life to God and served as a model of devotion and service. Her life and legacy continue to inspire people to this day.