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.
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
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.”
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.”