This picture of an icon was sent to us by our nuns in Lucca, Italy . Their monastery is attached to the Sanctuary of St. Gemma and her remains are encased there. They have a gorgeous Chapel- very fitting to hold the heart of a woman whose love for Jesus knew no bounds!
The following biography I found on St. Paul of the Cross Monastery website.
St. Gemma Galgani was born on March 12, 1878 at Camigliano, near Lucca in Italy, to Henry and Aurelia Galgani. Gemma’s mother died when Gemma was was very young. Her brother Gino to whom she was also very close, died soon after in 1894, after a battle with tuberculosis. Gemma’s father was a chemist and had been prosperous, but prolonged sickness in the family was a drain on his resources and resulted in complete financial ruin. To add to this Gemma’s father was stricken with cancer of the throat and she nursed him until his death in 1897. Thus, before Gemma was twenty she knew the sorrow of seeing her parents and family suffer tremendously.
At nineteen Gemma became ill with a painful curvature of the spine and meningitis, resulting in a partial paralysis. One of Gemma’s greatest sufferings came about because of her confusion concerning God’s will for her in becoming a religious. While not juridically ascribed in the Passionist family, she aspired to the Passionist Nuns at Tarquinia and embraced profoundly the spirituality of the Passion. On June 8, 1899, Gemma entered into a deeper experience of the Passion of Jesus by suffering the physical wounds of Christ on her body. The agony continued on Thursdays and Fridays in various parts of her body, usually with the flow of blood. Although Gemma always remained a lay-woman, she absorbed the Passionist spirituality. Only after her death did the Monasteries of the Passionist Nuns enjoy a marvelous blossoming.
Gemma died in Lucca on Holy Saturday April 11, 1903. Her holiness was evidenced by her whole life, her spirit of prayer, her loving acceptance of suffering, and her writings, all proclaim her desire to please God and to be united with Him. In 1923 her body was transferred to a shrine at the Passionist Monastery in Lucca. (Gemma foretold: “The Passionists will not receive me in life but they will have me in death.”) Gemma was beatified by Pope Pius XI on May 14, 1933 and on May 2, 1940 she was canonized by the Servant of God Pope Pius XII.
St. Gemma is a model for lay people who want to pray, who want to turn to God, for help and consolation in their worried lives – plagued by financial insecurity, broken homes, and emptiness – caused by the death of loved ones, the rejection felt by some handicap, and the frustration of the willing who are unable – in a society where the able are unwilling.
If not by habit and profession, undoubtedly by desire and affection, Gemma is rightly numbered among the religious children of St. Paul of the Cross.
~ Pope Benedict XV said of St. Gemma Galgani
For those who can read Italian – I just found an address Pope John Paul II gave to cloistered religious at the Shrine of St. Gemma where our Passionist Nuns Monastery is located in Lucca, Italy.