Saint Gerard Majella, C.Ss.R., the “Mothers’ Saint”
Gerard never set foot outside Italy, left no significant writings, and died at age twenty-nine after only six years of religious life. But even in his day, this humble Brother was considered a saint. He was friendly and generous by nature, and his confidence in God’s goodness seemed to give him supernatural influence. One biographer called him "the spoiled child of God" because whatever he asked for in prayer, he got.
After his death, one particular miracle attributed to his intercession increased his popularity. A woman who had known Gerard when she was a child faced life-threatening complications during labor. Suddenly, she cried out for a handkerchief that Gerard had given her years before. The handkerchief was fetched and placed over her womb; the woman’s condition improved immediately and she delivered a healthy baby. This was no small feat in an era when only one out of three pregnancies resulted in a live birth, and word of the miracle spread quickly. By the time of Gerard’s beatification, he was known throughout Italy as "il santo dei felice parti", "the saint of happy childbirth."
Today couples throughout the world turn to Saint Gerard when they are having difficulty conceiving a child, when a child is sick, or when a family member is in need. Heartrending letters of petition and thanksgiving still pour into the League of Saint Gerard, founded by the Redemptorists of the United States in the 1940s.
Who is this saint who inspires thousands to unburden their hearts?
Born on April 6, 1726, in Muro, Italy, Gerard was the fourth child and only son of a tailor named Domenico and his wife, Benedetta. He was a prayerful boy but was by no means solitary or sour. One biographer writes, he was immensely charming, had a great sense of fun, and loved to play practical jokes. Gerard’s first great sorrow was the early death of his father. Although Gerard was an exemplary student, Benedetta was forced to remove him from school at age twelve. For six years he worked long hours to help support his family, first as a tailor’s apprentice, then as the bishop’s houseboy. Twice in his teenage years Gerard applied to join a Capuchin monastery; twice he was rejected because the superior thought he looked too weak and sickly.