History of Gerard Majella

Saint Gerard MajellaGerard Majella was born at Muro, in Southern Italy, 6 April 1726. His parents were an ordinary, hard-working couple, rich only in their faith. So delicate was the new-comer at his birth that he had to be baptized immediately.

Divine favours were lavished on Gerard even during childhood. For instance, the Infant Jesus often came to play with him; and it was the great archangel Saint Michael, who miraculously gave him his first Holy Communion.

At the age of twelve, owing to the death of his father, Gerard had to become the bread-winner for his mother and three sisters. He followed his father’s trade – tailoring. Eventually, he opened a tailoring business of his own, but he was not meant for the business of this world. God was calling him. Twice he applied to become a Capuchin monk. Each time he was rejected because of his frail health. Then the Redemptorist Fathers came to preach a mission at Muro. He stormed them with his entreaties and finally became a Redemptorist Brother.

He spent only six years in religion, but how glorious they were. By his penances, his humility, his obedience, he showed himself a true disciple of his crucified Master. When accompanying the Fathers on missions he outstripped them all in his zeal for souls. His life was one big prayer, one long act of ardent love for Jesus and Mary.

Little wonder, then, that it received the divine stamp of miracles. So numerous and outstanding were the prodigies performed by Gerard that people called him the “wonder-worker”.

Gerard died at midnight, 15 October 1755, aged twenty-nine and a half years. He was canonized by Pope Pius X, 11 December 1904, and October 16th was fixed as his feast.

From his place in heaven our saint is still a wonder-worker; more so than ever, for he now has the whole world as the theatre of his operations. His faithful clients everywhere cannot find words to express their gratitude to their heavenly intercessor and patron.

Because of the difficulties he experienced in following his own vocation, he is invoked as the patron of vocations. Because of his gift of reading the consciences of others he is hailed as the patron of a good confession. And because of the special protection he gives to expectant mothers and to sick children he is acclaimed throughout the world as tbe patron of mothers – the Mothers’ Saint.

– text from the booklet Alone with God by the Redemptorist Fathers, Brooklyn, New York; it has the Imprimatur of Bishop Francis J Mugavero, Diocese of Brooklyn, New York