The Diary of Saint Gemma


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From 1899 until her death in 1903, the young Italian woman St. Gemma Galgani physically experienced the wounds of Christ every Thursday evening. The stigmata would appear and bleed on her hands, feet, and side, stopping only on Fridayafternoon and leaving white marks as a reminder. St. Gemma also experienced countless visions, raptures, ecstasies, and other mystical graces - as well as intense temptations from the devil.

Here is the remarkable diary of this young saint, which her spiritual director ordered her to write. It will give you an enthralling glimpse into her numerous encounters with Jesus Crucified, with Our Lady, and with her guardian angel, whom she saw almost every day and would even send on errands, usually to deliver messages to her confessor in Rome.

You will witness St. Gemma’s courage in fulfilling even laborious duties while wearing the hidden crown of thorns, and you’ll learn what St. Gabriel Possenti, to whom she was especially devoted, taught her about the connection between bodily illness and spiritual healing. Moreover, St. Gemma will teach you:

  • What to do when you are mocked, tormented, or experience powerful temptations
  • How to overcome the hesitation to receive Holy Communion due to scrupulosity, dryness, and desolation
  • The key to overcoming struggles in prayer
  • How to remain faithful during periods of intense suffering
  • How obedience will defeat the enemy and help you overcome sinful habits
  • How your prayers and small sufferings relieve souls in Purgatory

St. Gemma was a laywoman who lived near Lucca, Italy. She yearned to be a Passionist nun, but her poor health prevented this. Instead, she was mystically espoused to Jesus and faithfully lived out the Passionist spirituality.

  • Pages: 160
  • Format(s): Paperback, eBook
  • ISBN: 978-1-64413-710-9
  • Product Code: 7109
  • Availability: In Stock
  • Publication Date: July 26, 2022
  • Categories: By Title, New Releases, Saints and Angels
I was elated to learn that Sophia Institute Press released The Diary of Saint Gemma over the summer this year, partly because the idea of reading Saint Gemma’s own words was enticing, and partly because I had no idea that Saint Gemma had left anything at all in writing! The Diary of Saint Gemma does include her diary in Part Two of the book, however it also includes her autobiography in Part One, which helps orient the reader to a broad overview of her life. As I read Part One, I was struck at the similarities between her autobiography and that of Saint Therese of Lisieux, in that both were instructed to write their life-story by a superior, and that both lost their mothers early on. Both spent time living with relatives following their mothers’ deaths. Both suffered from illness as growing children, and both confessed to being rather difficult—although their descriptions of themselves as regular, active children make me smile. Saint Gemma’s description of her own vices and failures paint a picture of a difficult, energetic, and impulsive child—not the description one would expect from a holy saint. It is this very description, though, that endears herself to her readers because she is so relatable: if you don’t see yourself in her, you definitely know someone like her! An interesting note: the pages of her original autobiography have burn marks on the edges because they were singed in a fire. It is said that the Enemy didn’t want her life experience to be shared and threw her notebook in the fireplace of her spiritual director. Luckily, the pages were spared and her story is preserved. Reading Part Two offers simple insights into daily life that help the reader along his or her own faith journey: this isn’t a heady, philosophical treatise on spirituality, but an accompanying of a fellow Christian along the path of life. The included part of her diary covers a few months during the year 1900—mid-July through the beginning of September—and I wonder whether this is an excerpt or the entirety of her diary. She remarks frequently that she wrote this, too, as an assignment from her spiritual director and her confessor, so it is possible that it was a cursory exercise. Regardless, we experience Gemma’s struggles with holiness as we live the same struggles and insecurities. But, oh, what insecurities! During these few weeks, she is specifically developing her commitment to obedience, to praying for the Souls in Purgatory, and to increasing her own humility. More than development of virtue, Saint Gemma details her ecstatic visions of Jesus and Mary, as well as Brother Gabriel, and her deep friendship with her Beloved Guardian Angel. Saint Gemma is consoled by these close relationships as she suffers torment and temptation from spiritual warfare. It is clear throughout that making a good Confession and the reception of the Holy Eucharist are integral to a life of peace and unity with Jesus. Reading The Diary of Saint Gemma offers us a fresh look at personal spirituality. Saint Gemma reminds her readers—literally her superiors, but now us in the modern world—that we should read her life experience with a grain of salt: “Whoever reads these things, I repeat again, should not believe because they are all my imagination” (145). But her words speak so much truth and depth that I can’t help but see my own prayer life anew. I intend to pray more out of bed, and to develop a closer relationship with my Guardian Angel. I encourage you to read this wonderful book and wonder—what will your take-away be?
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