ST. GABRIEL POSSENTI
Feast: February 27
On a summer day a little over a hundred years ago, a slim figure in a black cassock stood facing a gang of mercenaries in a small town in Piedmont, Italy. He had just disarmed one of the soldiers who was attacking a young girl, had faced the rest of the band fearlessly, then drove them all out of the village at the point of a gun. The young man was Francesco Possenti, whose father was lawyer for the Papal States and who had recently joined the Passionist Order, taking the name of Brother Gabriel.

Francesco Possenti had been the fanciest dresser in town as well as the best dancer. He was a superb horseman and an excellent marksman. Engaged to two girls at the same time and a great partygoer, he had shocked his family by announcing after his graduation that he was going to become a Passionist monk. No one believed him and expected him back within a few weeks. He stayed, and when Garibaldi's mercenaries swept down through Italy ravaging villages, Brother Gabriel showed the kind of man he was by confronting them, astonishing them with his marksmanship, and saving the small village where his monastery was located.

He had become very sick during his school years and had promised that if he got better, he would dedicate his life to God. St. Gabriel Possenti got better and forgot about it. He got sick again and made the same promise, but again got well and forgot his promise. Once, during a church procession in which a great banner of Our Lady, Help of Christians, was being carried, the eyes of Our Lady looked straight at him and he heard the words: "Keep your promise." Shaken, he remembered his promise, changed his life completely, and entered the Passionists.

He hoped to be sent to the missions after his ordination to the priesthood, but at the young age of twenty-four, he died. Canonized in 1920, he is, along with St. Aloysius, one of the patrons of youth. He was very fond of his family and is particularly remembered as a remarkable young man who, at the age of twenty, threw all aside for God, determined to become a saint.

Thought for the Day: By his courage, St. Gabriel showed that holiness is in no way opposed to the best qualities of manhood. He showed courage in very dangerous circumstances, where he could have very well been killed. We may not have to face such dangers, but we do need that kind of courage to witness to our faith on a daily basis.

From 'The Catholic One Year Bible': . . . Suddenly his face began to shine with glory, and his clothing became dazzling white, . . . a cloud covered them, blotting out the sun, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him."—Mark 9:2-3, 7

Taken from "The One Year Book of Saints" by Rev. Clifford Stevens published by Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., Huntington, IN 46750.


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