St. Gerard Majella
Gerard was born in the town of Muro, Italy (about 50 miles south of Naples) in 1726. When his father died while Gerard was only 12 years old, his family was thrown into a state of near poverty, and his mother sent Gerard to his uncle to apprentice as a tailor. Imbued with a great love for the priesthood, Gerard spent time working in the service of a prelate, and tried to join the Capuchin Franciscan Order, only to be rejected due to his poor health. He later joined the Redemptorist Order in 1749 as a lay brother.
Gerard did not possess any degree of bodily strength, but was renowned for his great gifts of the spirit – he was a model of virtue, deeply committed to the vows he took upon his profession as a brother, and displayed extraordinary wisdom and a gift for reading consciences. A number of miracles have been attributed to him, including restoring to life a boy who had fallen off a cliff, multiplying food to feed hungry peasants, and walking on the water to lead fishermen through stormy waves. A miracle attributed to Gerard that enabled a woman who was near death while in the throes of childbirth to both live and give birth to a healthy child led to St. Gerard Majella’s designation as the patron saint of expectant mothers and children. It is also said that Gerard was gifted with the powers of levitation and bi-location – gifts associated with other mystics as well.
Afflicted with tuberculosis, Gerard died in 1755 at the age of 29. He was beatified in 1893 by Pope Leo XIII and canonized in 1904 by Pope Pius X. His feast day is celebrated on October 16th.