By Larry Peterson
The Annual March for Life will occur in Washington D.C. on Friday, January 21. Tens upon tens of thousands will march in defense of the unborn. Many expectant women, scared and unsure of their situation, most likely will avoid it. If you are one of them, you might turn to a young man for intercession. He is the Patron Saint of Unborn Children and Expectant Mothers. Many a miracle has been attributed to this man’s intervention. His name is Gerard Majella.
Gerard was the youngest child born to Domenico and Benedetta Majella. They had three daughters, and Gerard was their only son. The date was April 6, 1726. The Majellas were a hard-working Italian family. Benedetta brought her children to Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Graces as often as she could. Gerard, only three, loved the “pretty lady with the baby.”
“Mama, mama, see what I got from the little boy.”
When Gerard got a bit older, he would run off to the shrine by himself. The first time he came home, he yelled out, “Mama, mama, see what I got from the little boy.” In his hand, he held a small roll of bread. No one paid much attention, but after several days of coming home with bread, his mom followed him to see where he was getting the bread.
Mom was stunned by what she saw
What she saw stunned her because the statue of Our Lady of Graces came to life and the child she was holding scampered down to play with Gerard. She quickly left and, sure enough, when Gerard came home, he had another small loaf of bread with him. Benedetta kept this to herself.
Gerard’s dad died when the boy was twelve, and the family was left in poverty. Gerard’s father had been a tailor, so his mom sent him to her brother so Gerard could learn the trade. However, after a four-year apprenticeship, Gerard was offered the job as a servant for the local Bishop of Lacedonia. Needing the money, he took the position.
He would bring the poor leftovers from the bishop’s table
The Bishop kept hearing stories about Gerard and his kindness. He would always stop and visit the poor in the clinic, how he always helped others, and how he even brought the poor leftovers from the bishop’s table. The young man was gaining a reputation just by being himself.
“I want to be a saint.”
Gerard returned to his trade as a tailor when the Bishop passed away. He divided his earnings among his mother, the poor, and with offerings for the souls in purgatory. By the time he was 21 years-old, he had established a steady business. His mom was quite worried about her son. He looked thin and frail because he was always fasting and doing penance. She begged him to eat, and he told her, “Mama, God will provide. As for me, I want to be a saint.”
Gerard tried to join the Capuchins, but they thought him too sickly to endure the demands of the order. Finally, after much pleading and nagging, he was accepted as a lay brother into the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, aka the Redemptorists.
As a lay brother, he would never be a priest, say Mass, or hear confessions. He would live under the same roof, wear the same habit, and share the prayers. He also would take the vows of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience. He would be a caretaker to the monastery. He embraced this role and served them well, acting as a gardener, sacristan, porter, cook, carpenter, and, of course, the tailor.
The children always flocked to hear his amazing stories
But there was always the children. They flocked to Gerard to hear his amazing stories and learn how to pray. Once, when a large group was sitting around listening to him, a little boy fell off a cliff. When they reached the child, they thought he was dead. Gerard said to the boy’s father, “It is nothing.” Then he traced a cross on the boy’s forehead, and he awoke. It was just one of Gerard’s many miracles that people witnessed.
Gerard had tuberculosis and died on October 16, 1755. He was 29 years old. Many miracles were attributed to his intercession. One stands out as the reason he has come to be known as the patron of mothers. A few months before his death, he was visiting a family. He dropped his handkerchief, and one of the girls picked it up to return it to him. He told her to keep it because one day, she would need it.
Years later, as a married woman, she was about to give birth and the doctor was sure the child would not survive. She remembered the handkerchief and asked for it. When she held it to her womb, the pain disappeared, and she gave birth to a healthy baby. There was no explanation.
In 1893 Pope Leo XIII beatified Gerard. And on December 11, 1904, Pope St. Pius X canonized him in Rome. He was now St. Gerard Majella.
St. Gerard is the patron saint of unborn children, expectant mothers, and motherhood.
St. Gerard; please pray for all those pre-born children in danger of losing their lives and for expectant moms everywhere.
Copyright©larry Peterson 2022