Saints of the Day – Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows (Possenti)

detail of a stained glass window image of Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, artist unknown, date unknown, Brioux-sur-Boutonne, France; swiped off Wikimedia CommonsArticle

Born in Assisi, Italy, March 1, 1838; died on Isola di Gran Sasso, Abruzzi, Italy, on February 27, 1862; canonized in 1920.

Francis Possenti, the 11th of thirteen children of the lawyer Sante Possenti, was raised in a wealthy family that was both pious and cultured. His mother died when he was only four years old, and his father had just been appointed the registrar of Spoleto.

He was so inordinately vain and innocently, but passionately, devoted to worldly pleasures, that his friends referred to him as il damerino (‘the ladies’ man’). Before he finished school at the Jesuit college at Spoleto, he fell dangerously ill, and he promised that if he recovered, he would enter religious life. Upon his recovery, however, he did not act immediately upon his promise. Sure, he joined the Jesuits at age 17 but delayed entering the novitiate.

A year or two later, when he fell ill again, he renewed his promise. Once again he recovered. This time he fulfilled his vow and astonished everyone when he announced that he was entering the Passionist Order at Morovalle near Macerata immediately upon his graduation in 1856.

His religious life was one of love throughout–joyous love made all the sweeter by the penances prescribed by his rule, which he fulfilled to the letter. There was nothing extraordinary about him except his fidelity to prayer, his love of mortification, and his joyfulness of spirit. He was ordained, but, at the age of 23, just after finishing his studies, he was stricken with tuberculosis and died at age 24. Through his intercession it is believed that Saint Gemma Galgani was cured of spinal tuberculosis (Attwater, Benedictines, Butler, Delaney, Encyclopedia, White).

Gabriel is the patron saint of students, particularly those in colleges and seminaries (acting as a model to them), of the clergy, and of young people involved in Catholic Action in Italy (White).

MLA Citation

  • Katherine I Rabenstein. Saints of the Day, 1998. CatholicSaints.Info. 23 May 2020. Web. 2 June 2020. <>