Monday 2 March 2020

Gemma Galgani Gem of Christ - John Paul Kirkham - CTS Great Saints

Gemma Galgani Gem of Christ
CTS Great Saints
John Paul Kirkham
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860827105
eISBN 9781784693411
CTS Booklet B738

Over the last few years I have read over 100 books from the Catholic Truth society. This was the sixth in the Great Saints Series. I have also read many in the Biographies and also Saints of the Isles Series. And have loved almost all of them. Lately I have been focused more on this series and still have over a dozen in the series I want to read. But back to this specific volume. The description of this book is:

“As war raged in 1940s Europe, Gemma Galgani, a young and beautiful Italian girl, was made a saint - the first to have lived in the 20th Century: she died in 1903. Born into the modern world, her life of goodness and suffering, together with her writings of the love of God, have left a role model of Christian living for many young people living in this secular age. She carried the five wounds of Christ and is considered by many a visionary and mystic.”

And the chapters are:

Striking Beauty
A Childhood of Crosses
Learning Love through Suffering
The Stigmata
Daughter of His Passion
Modesty and Disposition
One True Love
Humility and Mortification
Prayer Life
Guardian Angel
Demonic Assaults
Incorrupt Heart
Footsteps of St Gemma- Feast Day April 11th
Prayers with St Gemma

I will be honest; I am not even sure I had encountered the name Gemma Galgani. But the photo on the cover, and description captured my attention and it jumped to the top of my reading list. The book was an eye opening read for me. My son has Neurofibromatosis and Scoliosis, reading about this Saint and her medical issues and some of the healings attributed to her has inspired me and challenged me to hope and pray for more. We are told in the final section of the book, Prayers with St Gemma:

“St Gemma Galgani is the Patron Saint of Students, Pharmacists, those suffering from any spinal or back disorder, those suffering from tuberculosis, those who have lost parents and those struggling with temptations.”

This section has one prayer written by the saint and 2 prayers for her intercession. I have already started praying the one for my son. About her canonization process we are told:

“In October 1903 Pope Pius X authorised the foundation of a Passionist convent in the city of Lucca. In March 1905, when Fr Germanus had raised and secured the finance, the first Passionist Sisters moved in to establish the landmark monastery. It stands with its distinctive great green dome opposite Lucca’s eastern Porta Elisa where the Viale Cadorna meets the Via di Tiglio. In 1906 Cecilia’s daughter, Gemma’s best friend and acquired sister, Euphemia Giannini joined the new community and took the name Sister Gemma Magdalena.

By this time numerous graces and favours were being reported due to the intercession of this new “Spiritual Daughter of St Paul of the Cross”. In response to requests for information Fr Germanus collated Gemma’s writings into volumes and wrote a bestselling and complete account of her life. This he published in 1908. A year later, with the help of Mgr Volpi he published more of Gemma’s correspondence and words transcribed by her family. This paved the way for the process of canonisation to be initiated and in 1910 Gemma was officially called for the first time a “Servant of God”.”

And that she was canonized in 1940. This book was first published in 2011, and the eBook edition was released in 2017. It is a very moving and inspiring read. I already have plans to reread it with my son. And to track down and read some of her many writings. It is an excellent book in a great series. Another fantastic read from the Catholic Truth Society. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2020 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books by and about Saint Gemma Galgani:
The Autobiography of Gemma Galgani: The Book the Devil Tried to Burn - Gemma Galgani
The Autobiography and Diary of St Gemma with Novena and Prayers in Honor of the Saint - Edited by Glenn Dallaire
Gemma Galgani Gem of Christ - John Paul Kirkham - CTS Great Saints
The Life of St. Gemma Galgani - Ven. Fr. Germanus Of St. Stanislaus
The Saint Gemma Galgani Collection - Saint Gemma Galgani

Books by John Paul Kirkham:

A Simple Guide to the Catholic Faith
The Holy Souls
The Miraculous Infant of Prague

Books in the CTS Great Saints Series:
Antonio Rosmini - J.B. Midgley
Bernard of Clairvaux - J.B. Midgley
Benedict Patron of Europe - J.B. Midgley
Charles Borromeo - J.B. Midgley
Dominic - J.B. Midgley
Elizabeth of the Trinity The Great Carmelite Saint - Jennifer Moorcroft
Francis de Sales - J.B. Midgley
Gemma Galgani Gem of Christ John Paul Kirkham
George: Patron of England - J.B. Midgley
John Baptist de La Salle - J.B. Midgley
John of the Cross - Jennifer Moorcroft
John Vianney - J.B. Midgley
Louis Marie de Montfort His Life, Message and Teaching - Paul Allerton SMM
Martin de Porres - Glynn MacNiven-Johnston
Patrick Missionary to the Irish - Thomas O’Loughlin 

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