Gerard Majella was born on April 9th, 1726 in Muro Lucano, Italy. He was the youngest of five children, his father being a humble craftsman tailor. From childhood, he was favored with exceptional graces. At the age of eight, he found his joy only in the tabernacle, immersed in deep prayers, he even forgot to eat. His father died when he was twelve and Gerard was placed with a tailor. After four years of apprenticeship, he became a servant of Monsignor Claudio Albini, bishop of Lacedonia. He was tough and severe with the young boy, who welcomed the punishments out of love for Christ. Gerard lived immersed in God, almost without eating, and was already performing amazing miracles. The young boy already possessed a love for the Cross.
Feeling a deep call to church life, Gerard presents himself to the Capuchin convent of his city, were he was refused because of his fragile health. He was not discouraged. In 1748 at the age of twenty-three, he entered into congregation of the Saint Redeemer, founded in 1732 by Saint Alphonsus of Liguori. From his novitiate among the Redemptorists, Gerard was a heroic practitioner of virtues. He made his solemn vows in 1752, and was then entrusted with various duties as required: gardener, janitor, cook, stable boy. He was also entrusted with the role of a sacristan, which gave him the opportunity to satisfy his devotion. He has frequent ecstasies in contemplating the crucified Christ. In all circumstances, Gerard was joyful, quick to obey, shared his property with the poor, and practiced various mortifications and devotions. He wrote his rule of life on the door of his cell: “Here we do the will of God, as God wills, and for as long as he wills.” The Redemptorist brother was filled with burning charity for his neighbor and performed many unexplained healings. He had the gift of bilocation, the gift of knowing the future, and obtained completely incredible conversion graces among the most hardened sinners.
Gerard patiently withstood the slander when he was accused publicly by a young girl of having an illicit relationship with a certain Nicoletta. In reality, she had been abandoned by a debaucherous nobleman, the father of the child she bore. Brother Gerard took refuge in silence in order to remain faithful to the rule which required him to suffer in silence any mortification. Troubled by his humility and acceptance of the will of God, the accuser converted and exonerated him entirely.
After a short but intense religious life, Gerard Majella died of tuberculosis on October 16th, 1755, at only 29 years old. He was beatified in 1893 by Leo XIII and canonized by Pius X in 1904. Saint Gerard Majella is celebrated on the day of his birth in Heaven: October 16th.
He is the patron saint and protector of pregnant women, mothers of families, unborn children, wrongly accused persons and good faith.
From childhood, little Gerard was favored with extraordinary graces. He is led by his guardian angel to the sanctuary of the Virgin Mary of Capodigiano, where he saw a child smiling at him. The child detached himself from the mysterious beautiful woman to play with him, and sometimes, to give him a small piece of white bread. He understood as he grew up that this child was little Jesus. At the age of eight, Gerard, who had not obtained permission to take his first communion, received a visit during the night from Saint Michael the Archangel, who had come to give him the holy communion he so desired.
One day, while the young Gerard was serving with the bishop, he went to draw water. The keys to his master's house fell into the well. The boy ran to the nearest church, took a statuette of the Child Jesus, and plunged it into the well. When he took the statue out of the well, it clenched the lost keys in his hands.
When he was a redemptorist brother, his superiors forbade him to work miracles. Shortly afterwards, Brother Gerard saw a mason fall from a scaffold, and he ordered him to stop his fall until he had permission to save him.
It was this miracle that made Saint Gerard Majella the protector of pregnant women and children. One day, when the young clergyman was in Oliveto Citra for health reasons, he visited the Pirofalo family. When he left them, he was pursued by their youngest daughter, who wanted to give him back the handkerchief he had forgotten. Brother Gerard told her with a smile to keep it because one day it would be useful to her. As an adult, the same little girl almost died in childbirth. In her pain, she remembered the words of the brother, and asked that the handkerchief be brought to her. The women who were with her placed it on her stomach. Immediately, the pains stopped, and the child was born safe and sound. Since then, Saint Gerard has been invoked by pregnant women and the shrine of Materdomini, which is dedicated to the Virgin and Saint Gerard Majella, is decorated with countless colored knots that remind us of pregnancies that have ended without problems thanks to its protection. Thus, Saint Gerard, who was already a miracle worker during his life, continued to be one after his death.
Here is the prayer that is recited at the shrine of Materdomini (municipality of Caposele in Italy).
O Saint Gerard, from the tenderest age, you have understood the treasure enclosed in devotion to the Queen of Heaven, and, by your fidelity to serve her, you have deserved to live and die under her maternal protection.
Obtain for me, for the Mother of God, a tender love that chains me to her service, and an unlimited confidence that, without ceasing, makes me implore her goodness.
Thanks to this fidelity in the service of my heavenly Mother, I will be able to cry out with Saint Bernard: "You are, O Mary, the blessed Ark in which I avoid shipwreck", the Star which guides me in the midst of darkness, the dew which softens my sorrows, the pod of salvation which will lay me at the port of blessed eternity.
Almighty and eternal God, who, through the operation of the Holy Spirit, prepared the body and soul of the glorious Virgin Mary, Mother of God, to be a dwelling place worthy of your Son, and who, through the same Holy Spirit, sanctified Saint John the Baptist before his birth; please accept the prayer of a poor mother who begs you through the intercession of Saint Gerard, your faithful servant, to protect her from all danger and to bless the child with her tears, so that, rescued by your almighty hand, she may receive the grace of holy baptism.
Let us also, after a Christian and holy life, come together to eternal life.