Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Rare Photo of a Saint in Ecstacy

This is not a pose.

It is a real photo of Saint Gemma Galgani, taken by her step brother while she was in ecstasy. She did not know it was being taken.

Actually, her ecstasies were so frequent, that she wrote to her Confessor

"Monsignor, listen: I am almost in despair. Angela knows everything about me. [Gemma’s younger sister] This morning she spoke about my affairs as if they were nothing and my brother along with her made fun of them. I am not the least afraid of their ridicule, you know. But from 11:00 this morning until this hour, which is 3:00pm, she has not left me alone. She says that she wants to see everything. She seems almost like a little devil. My aunts laugh at these things and I have a great desire to weep. She has even brought her companions from school into the house saying to them in order to make fun of me: 'Come, let us go and see Gemma in ecstasy.' And yesterday evening in front of the house she repeated these words in a loud voice."

"If you really want to love Jesus, first learn to suffer, because suffering teaches you to love." St. Gemma
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This photograph is of St. Gemma Galgani (1878-1903), a famous mystic who lived in the enchanting town of Lucca, Italy.

Her countenance is impressive for several reasons. First, we note her profound reflection and the harmony of her traits. Second, the saint’s gaze has something elevated and sublime about it. Her thoughts are not of this earth: her countenance displays a supernatural aura.

Her angelic purity are striking. This is seen by the way her head rests on her shoulders: straight and unpretentious.

She wears no adornment at all. Her hair is simply combed and arranged. Her face is very clean and reveals nothing of a desire for embellishment.

Her dress is black and simple. Yet, St. Gemma combines an extraordinary dignity with a virginal purity which is impalpably reflected in the luminous splendor of her skin. One could say that her skin is as luminous as her gaze. Moreover, her gaze reflects total uprightness. It is that of a mystic immersed in that which she sees. Even we discern something of what she perceives.

The virtue of fortitude also shines forth in her countenance. When the Faith commands her to do something, her will is unbending.

What does she desire? She wants to serve God, Our Lady and the Catholic Church. She forges ahead on this road regardless of the obstacles. She represents the strong woman of incomparable values referred to in Holy Scriptures. Like a rare stone, one readily walks to the ends of the earth to find her.

(Plinio Correa de Oliveria, published in the August 1999 issue of Catolicismo)

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