SAINT GERARD MAJELLA
1726 – 1755
Saint Gerard Majella is an example of a hidden life revealed. Gardener, porter, tailor, and sacristan, he is known as the “Wonder Worker of the Eighteenth Century” due to the amazing mystical gifts he displayed in the last three years of his very short life. Always humble in his daily duties, Gerard was so intuitive that he could read into the hearts and souls of those around him. There are many novenas to Saint Gerard, but the most popular is the prayer for motherhood. His heightened sensitivity made his prayers for the health of pregnant women, women in labor, and those wanting to conceive children extremely successful. For this reason he is the patron saint of expectant mothers. He is invoked by women hoping to get pregnant as well as for a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery.
Saint Gerard was born at Muro, south of Naples. According to his mother, he was the perfect child, always devout. His father was a tailor who died when Gerard was twelve. Supporting his mother and three sisters made him very sympathetic to the needs and sorrows of women. He was apprenticed to a tailor who constantly berated him. He then served as a house servant in the home of the bishop of Lacedogna. In poor health, Gerard asked for permission to enter the order of the Capuchin friars but was refused. He returned home, where he spent much of his day in prayer. Because of his mystical gifts and generosity, Saint Alphonsus Liguori, the founder of the Redemptorists, invited him into that order as a lay brother in 1752. Once, while visiting a family, he dropped his handkerchief as he was leaving. A woman picked it up and tried to hand it to him. He told her, “Keep it. One day it will be of service to you.” Although puzzled, she did keep it. A few years later, she faced life-threatening complications while giving birth. Remembering the handkerchief and Saint Gerard’s promise, she had it brought to her and held it to her womb. Immediately all the complications ceased and she gave birth to a healthy baby. Thus, the miraculous bit of cloth was passed from mother to mother whenever someone was about to give birth. By the time Saint Gerard was canonized in 1904, only a shred was left. This relic is still used today to pass the miraculous grace of Saint Gerard onto other handkerchiefs.
The greatest challenge of Saint Gerard’s life occurred when he was accused by a young girl of having an affair with another young woman. He never defended himself against the charges and quietly accepted the punishment meted out by his order. A few months later the girl recanted and admitted she made the story up. When asked why he never defended himself, Gerard said that silence is what he felt was required in the face of unjust accusations. He had always accepted his fate in life and saw no reason to change his behavior now.
In art Gerard Majella is shown with lilies for purity. His charity, obedience, and selfless service also make him the patron saint of lay brothers. He was twenty-nine years old.
Feast Day: October 16
Patron Saint of: Expectant Mothers and Lay Brothers
Invoked Against: Infertility
Prayer for Motherhood
O good Saint Gerard, powerful intercessor before God and Wonder Worker of our day, I call upon you and seek your aid. You who on earth always fulfilled God’s design, help me to do the holy will of God. Beseech the Master of Life, from whom all paternity proceeds, to render me fruitful in offspring, that I may raise up children to God in this life and heirs to the Kingdom of His glory in the world to come.
Dear Mother Mary, speak to Jesus for me.
Say this novena nine times in a row for nine days in a row.
Excerpted from the book “Novena: The Power of Prayer” by Barbara Calamari and Sandra DiPasqua