Traditional Feast Day of St. Gabriel Possenti
Deus, qui beatum Gabrielem dulcissimae Matris tuae dolores assidue recolere docuisti, ac per illam sanctitatis et miraculorum gloria sublimasi: da nobis, ejus intercessione et exemplo, ita Genitricis tuae consociari fletibus; ut materna ejusdem protectione salvemur. Qui vivis et regnas cum Deo Patre, in unitate Spiritus Sancte, Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen
(O God, Who didst teach blessed Gabriel to think continually of the sorrows of Thy most sweet Mother, and didst exalt him through her by the renown of holiness and miracles: grant us through his intercession and example so to join Thy Mother in her grief that we may be saved by her maternal protection. Who livest and reignest with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.) - Collect for the Feast of St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, February 27 (February 28 during leap years)
Our loving and generous God raises saints throughout the ages to serve as exemplary models of Christian living. One such saint was born almost one hundred and seventy years ago, and when he entered the Passionist Fathers, he took the name "Brother Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows." As the collect prayer above states, he meditated often on the sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The TAN Books booklet Devotion to the Sorrowful Mother says of St. Gabriel that "one of the chief sources of his sanctity was his tender, fervent devotion to the Sorrowful Mother." He advocated this devotion even among his fellow Passionists, who were founded to proclaim Christ Suffering and Crucified. It is no surprise that he was drawn to this devotion, since it is intimately tied to the sufferings of Our Lord on Good Friday. The last four sorrows of the traditional Seven Sorrows of Mary deal with sorrows that took place on that day.
St. Gabriel carried his devotion to the Sorrowful Mother to his dying breath. A year before his due to be ordained, he fell gravely ill with tuberculosis. He held a picture of the Sorrowful Mother close to his heart at the moment of his death, and "raising his eyes to Heaven, he cried with indescribable confidence and love: 'O my Mother, make haste!'"
Soon after his death, miraculous cures were obtained through his intercession. St. Gemma Galgani was one such person who benefited from his prayers in Heaven. Venerable Fr. Germanus, a Passionist priest who was St. Gemma's spiritual director, wrote in his biograpy of the saint (which is also printed by TAN) about her miraculous recovery from meningitis and a curvature to her spine. She bore her sufferings so patiently that she received vistors as word spread concerning her saintly demeanor. One of her visitors brought her a book about St. Gabriel (he was known as Venerable Gabriel at this time; he was canonized in 1920, seventeen years after St. Gemma's death). Her friends began to invoke him on her behalf. She soon started to pray for his intercession as well, particularly during times of temptation. When she had to return the book to her visitor, St. Gemma was reduced to tears. But her sacrifice was rewarded by St. Gabriel, who appeared to St. Gemma. Even with this apparition, her sickness grew worse. When it appeared she was on the verge of death, St. Gabriel appeared to her again, this time for nine days is succession, and they prayed together to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Soon afterwards, she was cured.
Pope Leo XII said of St. Gabriel: "Because of his filial love for Mary at the foot of the cross, he deserves to take his place by St. John, the beloved disciple, to whom Jesus in his dying hour commended his Mother." Catholics should follow his loving devotion to Our Sorrowful Mother, and have confidence in his intercession, just as St. Gemma Galgani did.
Maria, Mater Dolorosa, ora pro nobis!
St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us!
St. Gemma Galgani, pray for us!