Feast day: October 16
St. Gerard Majella was born in Muro Lucano, Italy, on April 6, 1726, into a humble family. From his parents he learned the love of prayer and sacrifice. When his father died, Gerard, being the only son, had to provide for his family by working as a tailor. At the age of 14 he sought to enter the Capuchin friary but was rejected because of his poor health. After a short time as the domestic servant of the bishop of Lacedonia, he returned to tailoring but earned a minimal income.
In April 1749, after attending a Redemptorist mission in Muro, Gerard succeeded in getting himself accepted by the congregation. Following a trial period and a year of novitiate in the house at Deliceto, he professed religious vows on July 16, 1752. Gerard was noted for his observance of the Redemptorist rule and collecting money for the material needs of the community.
His presence to people who were weighed down by poverty and illiteracy was a sign of hope to them. Gerard had great empathy and testified to trust in the love and the compassion of God.
During his five years as a lay brother in the congregation Gerard was remarkable for his apostolic zeal, patience in sickness, love for the poor, deep humility in the face of false accusations, heroic obedience, spirit of penance, and constancy in prayer. He wrote numerous letters of spiritual direction.
The Lord favored him with many spiritual gifts, including prophecy, the ability to read people’s hearts, and the gifts of miracles. He died at Materdomini on October 16, 1755.
Gerard was canonized by St. Pius X on December 11, 1904. He is invoked as a patron of mothers, especially in time of pregnancy. Couples hoping to conceive a child also seek St. Gerard’s intercession.
The shrine of St. Gerard Majella is at the basilica in Materdomini, Italy.
Prayers to St. Gerard
O good St. Gerard, powerful intercessor before the throne of God, wonder-worker of our day, I call upon you and seek your help. While on earth, you always fulfilled God’s designs; help me too always do God’s holy will. Beseech the master of life, from whom all parenthood proceeds, to bless me with offspring, that I may raise up children to God in this life and heirs to the kingdom of God’s glory in the life to come. Amen.
For a pregnant woman
O almighty and everlasting God, through the Holy Spirit, you prepared the body and soul of the glorious virgin Mary to be a worthy dwelling place of your divine Son. Through the same Holy Spirit, you sanctified St. John the Baptist, while still in his mother’s womb.
Hear the prayers of your humble servant who implores you, through the intercession of St. Gerard, to protect me amid the dangers of childbearing and to watch over the child with which you blessed me. May this child be cleansed by the saving water of baptism and, after a Christian life on earth, may we, both mother and child, attain everlasting bliss in heaven. Amen.