The Blessed Mother and Saint Gemma
"At the cross Her station keeping, Stood the mournful Mother weeping, close to Jesus to the last. Through Her heart, His sorrow sharing, all His bitter anguish bearing, now at length the sword has passed." (Stabat Mater prayer)
"Dear Blessed Mother, lend me your heart. I look for it each day to pour my troubles into" -St Gemma
Gemma always loved with the warmest love this heavenly Queen of the Angels, whom, with sweet confidence, she called "My dear Mother." Left orphan by the death of her earthly mother in her tenderest years, she accustomed herself afterwards not to recognize any mother but Mary, and towards her she always acted as her devoted and loving child. After Jesus, all her heart was for Mary.
"Oh, how I love my Mother!" she used to say. "She knows it; and then Jesus Himself gave her to me, and told me to love her so much. And what great goodness this Heavenly Mother has always shown me! What would have become of me, if I had not had her? She has always helped me in my spiritual wants; she has preserved me from countless dangers; she has freed me from the hands of the devil who was ceaselessly coming to molest me; she pleaded my cause with Jesus when I sinned, and she soothed Him when I moved Him to anger by my wicked life; she has taught me to know Him and love Him, to be good and to please Him. Ah, my dear Mother, I will love thee always and forever."
These and similar expressions of tenderest affection were ever in the heart and on the lips of this holy child and were continually occurring in her letters. Was it possible then for our Holy Mother not to repay such tender love a hundredfold? Gemma gave herself all to Mary and Mary to Gemma. And to show her how much she loved her, besides the favors without number and without measure that she obtained for her from Jesus, she very often deigned to come to her visibly and allowed her to see her face to face, caressing her and pressing her to her maternal bosom. Let us leave it to Gemma herself to describe these delicacies of love.
"Whoever could have imagined," thus she wrote "that this evening my dear Mother would have come to see me? It was not even to be thought of because I believed that my bad conduct would prevent it. Yet she had compassion on me. Her presence quickly put me in a state of recollection, and then, as often happens, I lost my senses, and I found myself, I think, with Our Lady of Sorrows. Oh, what happiness! What sweetness of heart I felt during those wonderful moments! Let whoever can, explain it. It seemed to me, after some moments of emotion, that she took me in her lap and made me rest my head on her shoulder and keep it there for a short time. My heart during that time felt perfectly happy and contented without any other desire. "Do you love only me?" she asked me now and then. "Oh, no!" I answered her, "before You I love someone else." "And who is it?" She said, pretending not to know. "It is one so dear to me! More dear than all else. I love Him so much that I would now, this moment, give my life for Him; for His sake I regard not my life." "But tell me, who is it?" she asked me "If You, Mother, had come the evening before last, You would have seen Him with me. I instead go to Him every day [she meant in Holy Communion], and I would go more often if I could. But do You know Mother," I continued, "why I do so? Because I know that He wishes to see, by His keeping so far away from me, if I am capable of ceasing to love Him. But quite the contrary, the farther He keeps away, the more I feel drawn to Him! And she repeated: "Tell me, who is He?" "No," I replied, "I won't tell thee. If only You have seen Him, Mother! He is like Thee in beauty; His hair is the color of Yours." Mother, then embracing me, seemed to say again: "But my child, tell me of whom are you speaking." I then exclaimed aloud, "Do You not understand me? Of Jesus, I speak of Jesus." "Repeat it still louder," she said. Then, smiling, she looked at me and pressed me closely to herself, saying, "Yes, love Him, but love Him greatly; Listen well! Love Him alone!" "Don't be afraid," I said to her, "no one in the world shall taste my affections! Jesus alone." Again she pressed me to her; she seemed to kiss me on the forehead. Then I awoke [meaning that she came out of the ecstasy], and I found myself stretched on the floor with the crucifix near me."
Although six years have passed since I first received that statement from Gemma herself, I have read it over and over again and it always seems to me more exquisitely touching. Here is another. The form is always the same.
"I was sitting in bed, not having yet gone to sleep. It seemed as if a beautiful lady drew near me and moved to kiss me. I was taken out of myself and was no longer in the world. I immediately made a thousand protests, according to the instructions given me. My heavenly Mother [and it was truly she, although Gemma showed doubts of it at first] looked at me, smiled and said: "Dear child!" Father [Germanus], forgive me if I yielded too quickly, but I let my Mother do as she pleased, and she took me in her arms. I nearly died, yes, died, of sweetest consolation Oh, how many loving caresses! .. She loves me so much! She said she had come for my bouquet, don't you know? She found me so poor, and she encouraged me to practice virtue, particularly humility and obedience. She said some words that I did not understand, and then added: "My child, labor to refine your spirit and become perfect quickly." What happened then I do not know. That "quickly" caused such a violent movement in my heart, on which my Mother placed her lovely hand, that I could not speak, but mentally I asked her for an explanation. I opened my eyes and made my request through them. She answered me thus: "Tell thy Father (Father Germanus -editor), that if he does not see to you [to enclose her in a convent], I will take you soon to paradise!" She kissed me saying: "If he does not do this quickly, we shall be together more quickly than he imagines."
It happened precisely as she said, and I still feel remorse because of it. In less than a year Gemma quite unexpectedly fell sick and went to Heaven.
"Oh Father, Oh Father!" she continued, "after such things, how contemptible the world appears! I don't know if you have ever had this experience. Oh, how beautiful our heavenly Mother is! Have you ever seen her? Although I have already seen her very often, yet my ardent desire to see her again remains."
On another occasion the Holy Mother appeared with her Divine Son as a beautiful child, and with her own hands placed Him in Gemma's arms. She, trembling, pressed Him to her heart and kissed Him with much love. The Divine Infant did the same, and having instructed her on heavenly matters, ended by giving her His blessing. She gave Him to His Mother, and the vision vanished.
I cannot say how often that happened, but I have a distinct recollection of three instances. On four other occasions Our Lord appeared to her as a tender infant, but without the Blessed Mother accompanying Him.
The above was taken from “The Life of St Gemma Galgani”, by Venerable Father Germanus Ruoppolo CP
The section below is taken from the book "Portrait of Saint Gemma Galgani", by Sister Saint Michael
Contemplation of Our Blessed Mother
Words of St Gemma in ecstasy:
What is the matter today? Where am I? Oh my Mother, where am I? Oh my Mother . . . oh, what beauty, how beautiful you are!
But do you see me? . . . I am very wicked, and I recognize myself as so unworthy that your favors afflict me, rather than console me. Nevertheless, if I had deserved it, I would like to come to you. Why do you come today?
Am I still your child? May I call you my Mother with confidence? But what do you wish, sweet Mother, that today I come to you ... that I approach you? You want it? . . . How can I resist? . . .
My happiness is too great; but does not my heart tell you enough?
Do you remember the day when on going to heaven you carried my heart away. Keep it always with you; are you leaving me, Mother? How can a little girl remain deprived of her mama?
How do I feel? Well, my Mother, I feel a little ill. I am experiencing a pain in my head, but it is not the pain of Jesus (the crown of thorns). Do you want to give me this one? Both of them willingly . . .
My Mother, my confessor has imposed something on me: he has told me to pray for my adopted family. I have done so already. Obtain what I could not hope to do of myself: many graces, an infinity of them, do you hear, Mother? an infinity of them. If Jesus intends to send them some trial, tell Him to show Himself merciful . . . It is up to you to obtain for them what I can not ...
When will Jesus come? Tell Him that you too, Mother, want me. I want to go with you . . . I have beseeched Him for so long! You ask and Jesus would bring me very quickly to Heaven.
My Mother, I desire to possess you always and I do not wish to be separated from you any longer. Oh! bring me to Paradise. I can live no longer without you. Do you see the suffering that you are causing me? I need your heart. Yes, each day I seek you in order to pour into this heart the sorrowful transports of mine. Do not leave me . . . o my Mother, 0 my Mother! If you are truly touched with compassion, Oh! Why do you part from a child who loves you so tenderly? If you are not here, who will listen to my prayers? Who will obtain my wishes? Without You I am…as a beggar girl stripped of all assistance. Mother, why do I give up?
Lead me to Paradise. Oh my Mother, my Mother, you are a very pure flower with the whiteness of a lily!"
In a letter to Venerable Father Germanus, Gemma writes:
"If you could see how beautiful the crown of glory is that the Eternal Father places upon the forehead of my Blessed Mother! Flaming gold, all flames, make up the base (I speak of it as it looks to me) and surrounding this crown are many gems, which are all Her virtues; there are many, many pearls. She was crowned with the crown of Wisdom. She was adorned with innumerable splendors, and then.....I don't know how to explain it. She had also a sign in that beautiful crown which means that She is the dispenser of all of the treasures of Paradise."
-Source for the above information is from the book "Portrait of Saint Gemma Galgani", by Sister Saint Michael
In the documents for her cause for Canonization we read the testimony from Gemma's aunt, Elisa Galgani concerning Gemma's devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary:
"She had a deep love for the Blessed Virgin and prayed to Her with great fervour and devotion, often repeating: "Holy Mary, make me a saint." She had also a very special devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Whom she ardently loved and to Whom she prayed with extraordinary fervour. I remember that when she was a child at school, she used to pray for success in her examinations so that her father especially might be pleased. She not only prayed, but carried on her person little pictures of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Once I saw her dip her finger in the oil of the lamp that was burning before the Blessed Sacrament, then touch her tongue with it in order that she might be able to answer the examiners well....
"She often read books about the Blessed Virgin, which were given to her by Monsignor Volpi or by the parish priest of St. Leonard's. Sometimes she read them aloud to her brothers and sisters and even to her aunts. Every day she said the Rosary with the family .... She made triduums or novenas for every feast of the Blessed Virgin and not only attended the special devotions held in Our Lady's honour during the months of May and October in the Church, but also repeated them at home with her brothers and sisters.' "