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Saint Gerard Majella

Who except God can give you peace? Has the world ever been able to satisfy the heart?

Saint Majella was born in Muro Lucano in what was at the time the Kingdom of Naples on April 9th, 1726. He was born into a family as the youngest of five and his father was a tailor (Domenico Maiella) who unfortunately passed away when Saint Majella was only twelve years old. This even plunged the family into poverty and so he was sent by his mother to apprentice as a tailor. After a brief stint as a servant to the local Bishop of Lacedonia, he took up tailoring full time dividing any money he earned between his family and offerings to souls in purgatory.

A stint of poor health, he tried to join the Capuchin monastery at Muro twice but was turned away both times as the monks did not feel his health would stand up to the demands of such a strenuous life. In 1749, at the age of 23, he joined the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, a order dedicated to preaching the word of God to the poor. He totally and completely dedicated his life to the poor and took upon the the three vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. During his time at the monastery he worked as a sacristan, gardener, porter, infirmarian, tailor, and clerk of works on the new buildings at Caposele.

He is credited with many, many miracles. Just a few he is credited with are below:

  • He once restored life to a boy who fell from a large cliff

  • Blessed a small supply of wheat that a poor family owned - that wheat miraculously survived and carried that family through the winter

  • Several times multiplied bread for poor families

  • Blessed a farmer's crops - the crops infested were mice were suddenly pristine

  • Once walked across water to lead fishermen through rough weather and severe waves back to the shore

His most famous miracle also later made him the patron Saint of mothers -

On a visit to the local Pirofalo family, he accidentally dropped and left behind his handkerchief. One of the daughters from the family ran after Saint Majella to return it but was told Keep it, You may need it one day

Years later the same girl was giving birth but was on the very edge of death due to the rough pregnancy. In what she believed to be her last moments, she asked for the handkerchief to be placed upon her. Almost immediately, the pain stopped and she gave birth to a healthy baby. The miracle spread far and quickly.

Saint Majella died of tuberculosis at the age of 29 on October 16th, 1755. At the door to his room a single note was nailed :

"Here the will of God is done, as God wills, and as long as God wills."

Pope Leo XIII beatified Saint Majella on January 29th, 1893 and he was formally canonized on December 11th, 1904 by Pope Pius X. In Newark New Jersey (USA), each year on his feast day there are traditional lights, music, food stands and trucks, and a street procession. This festival happens at the national shrine located at Saint Gerard's Chapel in Saint Lucy's church. In Ireland, there is an annual nine-day novena named the Saint Gerard Majella Annual Novena. Taking place at Saint Joseph's Church it is one of the largest festivals of faith in Ireland.

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