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Father Anthony Ho

St. Gemma devoted all her affections to Jesus 

Voices Jan. 4, 2019

St. Gemma Galgani. (stgemmagalgani.com photo)

St. Gemma Galgani's father died on November 11, 1897. As soon as the news of his death got abroad, his creditors arranged to have the few possessions left to the family taken away.

Gemma, however, was not appalled by the poverty to which she and her family were reduced, and considered poverty and the sorrows of life as precious gifts from God. Gemma's aunt recalled that not only did Gemma love to be poor, but she encouraged others to love it also. Gemma ate very little in order to have more to give to her brothers.

Gemma inspired others with her own confidence in God. A domestic servant from her uncle's home at Camaiore recalled: “In these sad circumstances Gemma found a means of exciting even myself to have confidence in the Providence of God. She used to say to me: 'Say the Rosary of five decades with these words: "Providence of God, have mercy on me." When you have said that ten times, add: "Providence of God, You have provided for me," or, "Providence of God, You will provide."'”

Gemma also expressed the same sentiments to her aunt Elisa: “Have patience, have patience, God will provide.” 

And God always did provide. For a while, Gemma lived with her uncle and aunt at Camaiore. Her cousin Luigi Bartelloni gave the following evidence concerning her conduct during her stay at Camaiore: “Every morning Gemma went with my sister Rosa to hear Mass and receive Holy Communion. Afterwards they attended to their household duties and served in the drapery shop with my uncle until about twelve o'clock. which was dinner time. After dinner, at about half-past twelve, they visited the Church called Badia, where they remained in prayer until a quarter to two. They then returned to the shop until about six, when they again went to pay a visit to the Blessed Sacrament. After the evening meal the family recited the Rosary and other prayers together and then passed about a half an hour in conversation before all retired to their rooms.”

At Camaiore, two young men wanted to marry Gemma, but she was determined to give her life to Christ. Gemma told one of the young men not to think of her, not even to look at her, because she belonged to Jesus and all her thoughts and affections were for Him alone.

Gemma sensed the dangers for her spiritual life in Camaiore, and she desired to return to her poor home in Lucca. Gemma begged of God to come to her aid and to free her, even at the cost of her health, from the dangers which threatened her. Gemma was struck down with a serious illness. “All of a sudden, I began to suffer from curvature of the spine and to experience violent pains in my back.”

Due to the sickness, Gemma requested to return home to her own family in Lucca. When she came home, her aunt was very surprised and asked: “Oh! Why have you come back, Gemma? Perhaps they did not treat you well?” Gemma answered: “Yes, I was treated well and I am well, but you know, there were persons there who wanted to marry me... I want to belong entirely to Jesus.”

Gemma experienced severe pains in her back and the spinal curvature. As her condition grew worse, Gemma was also subject to violent headaches. She became deaf. Her hair fell out, and her members became paralyzed. The doctor judged that Gemma was suffering from tuberculosis of the spine.

Even in her pain and poverty, Gemma always prayed for sinners. Often Gemma said to her aunt: “You ought to pray for them also, because if you save a soul you will go to heaven.”


                                                  吉瑪一心愛耶穌

聖吉瑪.金錦妮的父親死於1894年11月11日。當死訊傳開後,債權人迅速到他的家,取走僅餘的物品作抵償。

吉瑪對自己家庭的越貧,並不介懷,卻把貧困和哀傷,看做天主的禮物。她的姑母記憶中,認為吉瑪不只對生命的逆境泰然,亦鼓勵別人如是。吉瑪吃得少,為的是多留弟妹吃得飽。

吉瑪啟發其他人對天主信賴的心。她在卡馬約雷姨父的家傭憶述:「在哀傷的環境下,吉瑪仍能找到方法來激法對天主照顧的信賴。她嘗對我說:『用唸珠唸:『天主的照顧,矜憐我!』唸了十次之後,再加唸:『天主的照顧,祢已照料了我!』或:『天主的照顧,祢將會照料我!』」

吉瑪亦向她姨母艾莎演述過類似的說話:「要忍耐,要忍耐;天主將會照料。」事實確是如此。

有一段時期,吉瑪曾在姨父母位於卡馬約雷的家中寄住,她的表親類斯.巴達盧里見證了她的品行:

「每天早上,吉瑪必同我的妹妹羅莎去參與彌撒、領聖體;然後在整理家務後,到我叔父的布匹店工作到中午的膳食時間。約半小時的午餐過後,她們會去伯泰聖堂祈禱至一時四十五分,再返回布匹店幫忙。下午六時去朝拜聖體。在晚餐後,家人一起誦唸玫瑰經和其他經文,再彼此交談約三十分鐘後,便各位返回房間休息。」

在卡馬約雷居住時,曾有兩人向吉瑪提出婚事,都被拒絕了。吉瑪決志把一生奉獻給基督;她曾對一名追求者表明,不要看著她、不要想她,因為她是屬於耶穌,她的心思與愛慕,全是只為耶穌。

吉瑪感到繼續留在卡馬約雷,會損害她的靈修生活,有意返回盧卡貧窮的老家。她祈求天主幫助她,即使要付出健康,也要幫助她脫離危險陷阱。不久,她得了嚴重的症病:「突然,我的脊椎彎曲,背部感到異常疼痛。」

因為病痛,吉瑪請求返慮卡老家。返抵盧卡時,姑母驚訝,問道:「噢,吉瑪,為何你要回來?那邊的人對你不好嗎?」吉瑪解釋說:「不,他們對我都很好;只是因為那邊有追求者;但… 我決定完全屬於耶穌。」

吉瑪彎曲脊椎的疼痛加劇,亦常頭痛,頭髮脫落,眼睛漸盲,四肢感到麻痹,醫生疹定為脊椎結核病。

在貧苦病痛中,吉瑪仍常為罪人祈禱。她常對姑母說:「你也應為罪人祈禱,因為當你救了一個靈魂,你將能升天堂。」