Monday, February 15, 2010

St. Gerard Majella (1726 to Oct. 16, 1755)

One of my favorite co-workers of all time was a woman I'll call "Elle" who was 10 years older than me. By the time I met her, she was an established curator at a prominent library.
I loved hearing her wild tales about growing up a juvenile delinquent in western Massachusetts, in the 1960s amid drugs, alcohol, and promiscuous sex, and nearly being sold into white slavery.
So, I was more than happy to help her the day she called me to her department.
"I read your article about St. Francis of Assisi in the travel magazine," she said. "It drove me to tears. I know you know a lot about the saints. Can you help me?"
I was flattered that she liked my writing but also surprised that would ask me to consult the saints for her.
"Elle" revealed she was three months pregnant with twins and because of a female problem her doctor said it was highly unlikely that she would carry them to term.
Although she had another child, she thought that because she was now 40 it would be her last chance for more children.
"Marilyn, if you tell me what to do I promise to believe," she pleaded desperately.
Twenty years earlier my aunt prayed to St. Gerald Majella, the patron saint of expectant mothers, and when my cousin was born healthy named him Matthew Gerard.
"Elle" would need a prayer card for starters which I got for her at the gift shop at LaSalle shrine.
Every day until the following February, she prayed to the saint often stopping by my desk to give me updates about her doctor's appointments. When the twins were finally born, I went to the hospital to see "Elle" and brought her a mom's gift of a necklace and a cute t-shirt to wear home from the hospital.
She told me she kept the St. Gerard card with her at all times and because of him the babies were born healthy.
He was born in Muro, Italy in 1726. His dad died when he was twelve and he was brought up in poverty. In 1749, he joined the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer.
One day a pregnant woman made up a lie that he was the father of her child. She later admitted that it wasn't true and soon afterward his association as the patron saint of expectant mothers began.
He died of tuberculosis at age 29 on Oct. 16, 1755. Canonized: 1904.
St. Gerard Majella continues to be recognized throughout the world. Every October there is a nine-day Novena Festival in his honor at St. Joseph's Redemptorist Church in Dundalk, Ireland.
But, you don't have to be expecting a child to seek his help. St. Gerard is also the patron saint of the falsely accused.

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