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St. Gerard Majella

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Born in Muro, about fifty miles south of Naples, in April, 1726; died 16 October, 1755; beatified by Leo XIII, 29 January, 1893, and canonized by Pius X, 11 December, 1904. His only ambition was to be like Jesus Christ in his sufferings and humiliations. His father, Dominic Majella, died while Gerard was a child. His pious mother, owing to poverty, was obliged to apprentice him to a tailor. His master loved him, but the foreman treated him cruelly. His reverence for the priesthood and his love of suffering led him to take service in the house of a prelate, who was very hard to please. On the latter's death Gerard returned to his trade, working first as a journeyman and then on his own account. His earnings he divided between his mother and the poor, and in offerings for the souls in purgatory. After futile attempts first to become a Franciscan and then a hermit, he entered the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer in 1749. Two years later he made his profession, and to the usual vows he added one by which he bound himself to do always that which seemed to him more perfect. St. Alphonsus considered him a miracle of obedience. He not only obeyed the orders of superiors when present, but also when absent knew and obeyed their desires. Although weak in body, he did the work of three, and his great charity earned for him the title of Father of the Poor. He was a model of every virtue, and so drawn to Our Lord in the tabernacle that he had to do violence to himself to keep away. An angel in purity, he was accused of a shameful crime; but he bore the calumny with such patience that St. Alphonsus said: "Brother Gerard is a saint". He was favoured with infused knowledge of the highest order, ecstatsies, prophecy, discernment of spirits, and penetration of hearts, bilocation, and with what seemed an unlimited power over nature, sickness, and the devils. When he accompanied the Fathers on missions, or was sent out on business, he converted more souls than many missionaries. He predicted the day and hour of his death. A wonderworker during his life, he has continued to be the same since his death.

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