Saint Gerard Majella

Feast Day: October 16th

Saint Gerard Majella

"Who except God can give you peace? Has the world ever been able to satisfy the heart?"

-Saint Gerard Majella


Born in Muro, about fifty miles south of Naples, in April, 1726; died 16 October, 1755; beatified by Leo XIII, 29 January, 1893, and canonized by Pius X, 11 December, 1904.

    His only ambition was to be like Jesus Christ in his sufferings and humiliations. His father, Dominic Majella, died while Gerard was a child. His pious mother, owing to poverty, was obliged to apprentice him to a tailor. His master loved him, but the foreman treated him cruelly. His reverence for the priesthood and his love of suffering led him to take service in the house of a prelate, who was very hard to please. On the latter's death Gerard returned to his trade, working first as a journeyman and then on his own account. His earnings he divided between his mother and the poor, and in offerings for the souls in purgatory. After futile attempts first to become a Franciscan and then a hermit, he entered the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer in 1749. Two years later he made his profession, and to the usual vows he added one by which he bound himself to do always that which seemed to him more perfect. St. Alphonsus considered him a miracle of obedience.

    He not only obeyed the orders of superiors when present, but also when absent knew and obeyed their desires. Although weak in body, he did the work of three, and his great charity earned for him the title of Father of the Poor. He was a model of every virtue, and so drawn to Our Lord in the tabernacle that he had to do violence to himself to keep away. An angel in purity, he was accused of a shameful crime; but he bore the calumny with such patience that St. Alphonsus said: "Brother Gerard is a saint". He was favoured with infused knowledge of the highest order, ecstatsies, prophecy, discernment of spirits, and penetration of hearts, bilocation, and with what seemed an unlimited power over nature, sickness, and the devils. When he accompanied the Fathers on missions, or was sent out on business, he converted more souls than many missionaries. He predicted the day and hour of his death. A wonderworker during his life, he has continued to be the same since his death.

The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VI
Nihil Obstat, September 1, 1909, Remy Lafort, Censor
Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York



 Why is St. Gerard Majella invoked by thousands as "The Mother's Saint"? It appears strange that a man, and a religious lay brother at that, should be so acclaimed. It might seem that a married woman, who had been blessed with the privilege of motherhood, would be chosen by Divine providence for this office.

However, the fact is that the countless favors and prodigies obtained for mothers and their children through the intercession of St. Gerard seem to suggest the role selected for him. Although the Church has not officially proclaimed him the patron of mothers, it is hoped that one day she may do so. During his life he helped mothers in need; since his death, in 1755, there has been a continuous flow of extraordinary favours granted to mothers who prayed to him; today there are millions who look to him for help in obtaining the blessing of motherhood and in the difficulties attendant on motherhood.


Gerard, the youngest of the five children of Dominic and Benedetta Galella Majella, was born on April 6, 1726, in the small town of Muro, which is a few miles distant from Naples in southern Italy. He was very sickly at birth and was immediately taken to the Cathedral church for Baptism.

Even his childhood was marked by special graces from God. When he was only five, he was accustomed to go to a small chapel near his home to pray. Often he would return home from these visits with a loaf of bread.

When asked about this, he would say that "a most beautiful boy" had given it to him. One day his sister, Elizabeth, followed him to the chapel and watched him while he knelt in prayer before a statue of the Blessed Mother holding the Child Jesus. Then she saw a strange thing happen. The Child Jesus left His Mother's arms and came down to play with the little boy. After some time the Child gave Gerard a loaf of bread and returned to His Mother's arms. This was something of a prelude to the miraculous event in which the Archangel Michael gave him his first Holy Communion.


When Gerard was twelve, the sudden death of his father made it necessary for him to leave school and to begin to work. His mother apprenticed him to a tailor so that he could follow the trade of his father. His employer took a strange dislike to him and often showered him with blows and curses. Gerard accepted the persecution as being permitted by God for his spiritual good. Once he was seen to smile even while he was being beaten, and when asked about this, he said: "I was smiling because I saw the hand of God striking me." After his apprenticeship as a tailor, Gerard served for some time as a houseboy for the Bishop of Lacedonia, who was recuperating in Muro. Again he manifested the virtue of patience by silently bearing the irascible temper of this otherwise worthy man. During this time one of his early miracles took place. One day he accidentally dropped the key of the house in the well. With saintly simplicity he lowered a small statue of the Infant Jesus into the well. To the amazement of the onlookers, when Gerard raised the statue the lost key was held in its hand.


Such a youth would naturally turn toward the religious life. Three times, however, he was refused admittance into one religious order because of his frail health. He was still determined to become a lay brother, and the occasion of a mission conducted by the Redemptorist Fathers in Muro gave him new hope. He asked to be admitted as a candidate in their order, but again was refused because they felt that his health would not be equal to the rigours of monastery life. So persistent was the young man, however, that Father Paul Cafaro, the superior of the missionaries, advised his mother to lock him in his room on the night they were leaving Muro, lest he try to follow them. Gerard's mother did so, but the next morning when she unlocked the door she found an empty bed, an open window from which hung a sheet, and a note on the table that read: "I have gone to become a Saint."

Gerard had caught up with the missionaries just as they were leaving town. After many entreaties and refusals, Father Cafaro finally gave in and sent him on to the rector of the Redemptorist house at Iliceto with this note of recommendation: "1 am sending you a useless lay brother."

The "useless" lay brother was to do the work of four men, according to the testimony of those who worked with him. In his six short years as a Redemptorist, Gerard advanced rapidly in sanctity. His prayer life was continual and his spirit of obedience was so perfect that several times he even appeared at distant places in response to the unspoken requests of his absent superior. Even his confreres came to honor him as a Saint.

Much of his life as a brother was spent in traveling with and assisting the missionaries. They deemed him an invaluable companion, because he had such remarkable success in bringing sinners to the Sacraments and in inducing many to repair their past bad Confessions. People followed him everywhere, and already called him "il santo"
the Saint.

True sanctity must always be tested by the cross, and it was in 1754 that Gerard had to undergo a great trial, one that may well have merited for him the special power to assist mothers and their children. One of his works of zeal was that of encouraging and assisting girls who wanted to enter the convent. Often he would even secure the necessary dowry for some poor girl who could not otherwise be admitted into a religious order.

Neria Caggiano was one of the girls thus assisted by Gerard. However, she found convent life distasteful and within three weeks had returned home. To explain her action, Neria began to circulate falsehoods about the lives of the nuns, and when the good people of Muro refused to believe such stories about a convent recommended by Gerard, she determined to save her reputation by destroying the good name of her benefactor. Accordingly, in a letter to St. Alphonsus, the superior of Gerard, she accused the latter of sins of impurity with the young daughter of a family at whose house Gerard often stayed on his missionary journeys.


Gerard was called by St. Alphonsus to answer the accusation. Instead of defending himself, however, he remained silent, following the example of his Divine Master. In the face of his silence, St. Alphonsus could do nothing but impose a severe penance on the young religious. Gerard was denied the privilege of receiving Holy Communion, and forbidden all contact with outsiders.

It was not easy for Gerard to give up his labors in behalf of souls, but this was a small penance compared with being deprived of Holy Communion. He felt this so keenly that he even asked to be freed from the privilege of serving Mass for fear that the vehemence of his desire to receive would make him seize the consecrated Host from the very hands of the priest at the altar.

Some time later Neria fell dangerously ill and wrote a letter to St. Alphonsus confessing that her charges against Gerard had been sheer fabrication and calumny. The Saint was filled with joy by the news of the innocence of his son. But Gerard, who had not been depressed in the time of his trial, was not unduly elated in the hour of his vindication.

In both cases he felt that the will of God had been fulfilled, and that was sufficient for him.


Of few Saints have there been so many wonderful events recorded as of St. Gerard. The process of his beatification and canonization reveals that his miracles were of the widest variety and profusion.

He frequently fell into ecstasy while meditating on God or His holy will and at such times his body was seen raised several feet above the ground. There are authentic records to prove that on more than one occasion he was granted the unusual miracle of being seen and spoken to in two places at the same time.

Most of his miracles were performed in the service of others. Such extraordinary happenings as the following begin to seem commonplace when one reads his life. He restored life to a boy who had fallen from a high cliff; he blessed the scanty supply of wheat belonging to a poor family and it lasted until the next harvest; several times he multiplied the bread that he was distributing to the poor. One day he walked across the water to lead to the safety of the shore a boatload of fishermen threatened by the stormy waves. Many times Gerard told people of secret sins on their souls which they had been ashamed to confess, and brought them to penance and forgiveness.

His miraculous apostolate for mothers also began during his lifetime. Once, as he was leaving the home of his friends, the Pirofalo family, one of the daughters called after him that he had forgotten his handkerchief. In a moment of prophetic insight Gerard said: "Keep it. It will be useful to you some day." The handkerchief was treasured as a precious souvenir of Gerard. Years later the girl to whom he had given it was in danger of death in childbirth. She remembered the words of Gerard, and called for the handkerchief. Almost immediately the danger passed and she delivered a healthy child. On another occasion the prayers of Gerard were asked by a mother when both she and her unborn child were in danger. Both she and the child came through the ordeal safely.


Always frail in health, it was evident that Gerard was not to live long. In 1755, he was seized by violent hemorrhages and dysentery and his death was expected at any moment. However, he had yet to teach a great lesson on the power of obedience. His director commanded him to get well, if it were God's will, and immediately his illness seemed to disappear and he left his bed to rejoin the community. He knew, however, that this cure was only temporary and that he had only a little over a month to live.

Before long he did have to return to his bed, and he began to prepare himself for death. He was absolutely abandoned to the will of God and had this sign placed on his door: "The will of God is done here, as God wills it and as long as He wills it." Often he was heard to say this prayer: "My God, I wish to die in order to do Thy most holy will." Between midnight of October 15, early morning of the next day his innocent soul went back to God.


At the death of Gerard, the Brother sacristan, in his excitement, rang the bell as if for a Feast, instead of tolling it for a death. Thousands came to view the body of "their Saint" and to try to find a last souvenir of the one who had helped them so often. After his mother's death miracles began to be reported from almost all parts of Italy, attributed to the intercession of Gerard. In 1893, Pope Leo XIII beatified him, and on December 11, 1904, Pope Pius X canonized him as a Saint.


Devotion to St. Gerard spread rapidly beyond Italy and throughout the world and he came to be called "the wonder worker of our day." Because he had so often helped sinners to make a good Confession, he was adopted by many as the patron of a good Confession. Others revere the young apprentice tailor and Redemptorist lay brother as the patron of workingmen. Because he had so much difficulty getting into a religious order and because he sent so many girls to the convent he is often called upon as the patron of vocations.

Text courtesy of Catholic

Prayers to Saint Gerard

Great Saint Gerard, beloved servant of Jesus Christ, perfect imitator of our meek and humble Savior, and devoted child of the Mother of God, enkindle in my heart one spark of that heavenly of charity which glowed in yours and made you a seraph of love.

Glorious Saint Gerard, because, like your Divine Master, you bore without murmur or complaint the calumnies of wicked men when falsely accused of crime, you have been raised up by God as the patron and protector of expectant mothers. Preserve me in the dangers of motherhood, and shield the child I now bear, that it may be brought safely to the light of day and receive the sacrament of baptism.

Prayer to Saint Gerard Marjella

Dear Redemptorist Saint, model Priest and Religious, compassionate toward suffering Mothers, intercede for this expectant Mother. Let her not be selfish like those who are willing to put an end to the life they bear within themselves. Instead let her remain ever conscious that she is privileged to be the instrument through whom God brings another life into the world. Encourage her for the good of her child and the glory of the Lord of life. Amen.

Prayer to Saint Gerard Majella - for Motherhood

Good Saint Gerard, powerful intercessor before the throne of God, wonder-worker of our day, I call upon you and seek your aid. You know that our marriage has not as yet been blessed with a child and how much my husband and I desire this gift. Please present our fervent pleas to the Creator of life from whom all parenthood proceeds and beseech Him to bless us with a child whom we may raise as His child and heir of heaven. Amen.

Prayer to Saint Gerard

Most Blessed Trinity, I, Your child, thank You for all the gifts and privileges which You granted to Saint Gerard, especially for those virtues with which You adorned him on earth and the glory which You now impart to him in heaven. Accomplish Your work, Oh Lord, so that Your kingdom may come about on earth. Through his merits in union with those of Jesus and Mary, grant me the grace for which I ask {mention your petition}.

And you, my powerful intercessor, Saint Gerard, always so ready to help those who have recourse to you, pray for me. Come before the throne of Divine Mercy and do not leave without being heard. To you I confide this important and urgent affair {mention your petition}. Graciously take my cause in hand and do not let me end this prayer without experiencing the effects of your intercession. Amen.

The Litany in Honor of St. Gerard Majella+
Lay-Brother of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer

For private recital only.

Lord have mercy on us.
Christ have mercy on us.
Lord have mercy on us. Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of Heaven,
have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, 
have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God,
have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, Mother of Perpetual Help,
Pray for us.
Saint Joseph, Foster-father of Christ,
Pray for us.
Saint Alphonsus, founder of the Congregation
of the Most Holy Redeemer,
Pray for us.

Saint Gerard, endowed with extraordinary graces from early childhood, 
Pray for us.
Saint Gerard, perfect model of a faithful servant,
Pray for us.
Saint Gerard, bright pattern of the working classes,
Pray for us.
Saint Gerard, great lover of prayer and work,
Pray for us.
Saint Gerard, seraph of love towards the Most Blessed Sacrament, 
Pray for us.
Saint Gerard, living image of the Crucified Savior, 
Pray for us.
Saint Gerard, zealous client of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, 
Pray for us.
Saint Gerard, bright mirror of innocence and penance,
Pray for us.
Saint Gerard, admirable model of heroic obedience, 
Pray for us.
Saint Gerard, silent victim of ignominious calumny, 
Pray for us.
Saint Gerard, great before God by thy deep humility,
Pray for us.
Saint Gerard, truly wise by thy childlike simplicity, 
Pray for us.
Saint Gerard, supernaturally enlightened in Divine mysteries,
Pray for us.
Saint Gerard, solely desirous of pleasing God, 
Pray for us.
Saint Gerard, zealous promoter of the conversion of sinners, 
Pray for us.
Saint Gerard, wise couselor in the choice of vocation, 
Pray for us.
Saint Gerard, enlightened guide in the direction of souls, 
Pray for us.
Saint Gerard, loving friend of the poor and afflicted, 
Pray for us.
Saint Gerard, safe refuge in sickness and sorrow,
Pray for us.
Saint Gerard, wonderful protector of unBaptized children, 
Pray for us.
Saint Gerard, compassionate intercessor in every necessity, 
Pray for us.
Saint Gerard, exalted by God through astonishing miracles, 
Pray for us.
Saint Gerard, ornament and glory of the Redemptorist Order, 
Pray for us.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.

V. Pray for us, Saint Gerard,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.
O God, Who wast pleased to draw Saint Gerard unto Thyself from his youth; and to render him conformable to the image of Thy Crucified Son, grant, we beseech Thee, that following his example, we may be transformed into the selfsame image, Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.

                                  Some Prayers and Words of Saint Gerard

                    THE ACTS OF LOVE

My God, I intend to love you with as many acts of love
as Our Lady and all the blessed spirits have loved you since their creation,
and with all the faithful of the earth
and with the love with which Jesus Christ bore towards himself
and those whom he loved.


0 my God, I wish I could convert as many sinners
as there are grains of sand in the sea and on the earth,
as many as there are leaves on the trees,
plants in the fields,
atoms in the air,
stars in the sky,
rays in the sun or the moon,
creatures on the face of the earth.


Anytime I catch sight of a cross,
or a picture of one of the three divine persons,
or hear them mentioned
or at the beginning and end of my actions,
I intend to say a 'Glory be to the Father.'


I have a similar intention of honoring Our Lady
and any time I see woman,
I will say a 'Hail Mary' in honor of her purity.


Three Glorias in honor of the Trinity,
three Hail Marys in honor of Our Lady.
A Gloria for every slice of bread I cut,
another every time I drink wine,
and a Hail Mary every time I drink water.
Also every time the clock strikes.


  1. My dear and only love, my God, today and for ever I entrust myself to your divine will. And so I will say in all temptations and tribulations which come to me from this world "Your will be done." I will embrace everything in my heart, and raising my eyes to heaven to adore your divine hands, which shower precious jewels of your divine will upon me.

  2. My Lord Jesus Christ, I will do whatever holy mother the Church orders me.

  3. My God, for love of you, I will obey my superiors as if I were seeing and obeying your divine majesty itself. I will act as though I were no longer my own but what you are in the intellect and will of the one who gives me the command.

  4. I will be as poor as possible in every pleasure, that is in my own will, and rich in every hardship.

  5. Among all the virtues that are dear to you, my God, those that please me the most are purity and transparency in the sight of God. Infinite purity, I hope that you will free me from even the slightest impure thought, which I unfortunate that I am, could fall into in this world.

  6. I will never speak except in these three cases:
    -That what I say will be for the true glory of God,
    -For the good of my neighbor,
    -In case of some necessity of my own.

  7. At recreation, I will not be the first to speak without being spoken to, except in the three cases mentioned above.

  8. To every word I speak which may not be pleasing to God, I will add the aspiration, "My Jesus, I love you with all my heart."

  9. I will never speak ill or well of myself, but I will act as if I were not in this world.

  10. I will never excuse myself, even when I may have a good reason for doing so, except when what is said about me may offend God or do damage to my neighbor.

Writings of St. Gerard translated by B. McConvery, C.SS.R.

Saint Gerard Majella: 
A brief biography and some prayers and sayings

Gerard was born in 1726 in Muro, a little town in Southern Italy. He was blessed with a mother, Benedetta, who showed him the overwhelming love of God which knows no bounds. He was happy because he was close to God. 

Gerard was twelve years old when his father died and he became the family breadwinner. He was apprenticed to a local tailor and was bullied and beaten by the foreman. After four years apprenticeship, and just when he might set up as a tailor on his own, he announced he was going as a servant to work for the local Bishop of Lacedonia. He was advised by his friends not to take the job. 

However, the angry outbursts and endless nagging which prevented other servants from staying more than a few weeks were nothing to Gerard. He was able to turn his hand to anything and worked for the bishop for three years until he died. 

As long as Gerard believed he was doing the will of God he would accept anything. Whether he was being bullied at the tailors or taken for granted by the bishop didn't matter; he saw suffering as par tof his following of Christ. "His Lordship wished me well," he would say. And already, Gerard was spending hours with Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament, the sign of his crucified and risen Lord. 

In 1745, aged 19, he returned to Muro where he established himself as a tailor in his own right. His business prospered but he didn't make much money. He gave practically everything away. He would set aside what was needed for his mother and sisters and then give the rest to the poor or as Mass offerings for the souls in purgatory. There was no sudden startling conversion for Gerard. It was just a steady growth in the love of God.

Then during Lent of 1747 he resolved to be as completely like Christ as it was possible to
be. He undertook most severe penances and actually sought out humiliation, pretending to
be mad and happy to be laughed at in the streets. 

He wanted to serve God totally and applied to join the Capuchin friars but was not accepted. At the age of twenty-one he tried the life of a hermit. He so wanted to be like Christ that he jumped at the chance to take center stage for a Passion Play, a living tableau in Muro Cathedral. 

Getting to know the Redemptorists, he applied to then but was rejected because of the poor state of his health. On his insisting, however, he was reluctantly accepted by Father Paolo Cafaro, who sent him to the novitiate in Iliceto in 1749 with a note saying: “I am sending you a useless lay brother”. 

Gerard was professed in Iliceto on 16th July 1752, quickly disproving Father Cafaro’s prediction by his excellent service as porter, tailor and sacristan. He was a model of every virtue, and so drawn to Our Lord in the tabernacle that he had to do violence to himself to keep away.

An angel in purity, he was accused of a shameful crime; but he bore the calumny
with such patience that St. Alphonsus said: "Brother Gerard is a saint". He gained a reputation for sanctity so that a number of persons came to him for guidance in the spiritual life. He readily responded, revealing a remarkable gift for reading consciences. Among those who learned to venerate him for his holiness was Venerable Maria Celeste Crostarosa. The many miracles attributed to him gained him the name of the Wonderwoker. He died in Materdomini on 16th October 1755, worn out by his austerities, and by tuberculosis, on the day and at the hour he had foretold. He was beatified by Leo XIII on 29th January 1893 and canonized by Pius X on 11th December 1904. His feast day is October 16.

Some Quotes of Saint Gerard

-The Most Blessed Sacrament is Christ made visible. The poor sick person is Christ again made visible.

-I see in my neighbor the Person of Jesus Christ.

-Consider the shortness of time, the length of eternity and reflect how everything here below comes to an end and passes by. Of what use is it to lean upon that which cannot give support?

-Who except God can give you peace? Has the world ever been able to satisfy the heart?

In a letter he wrote to a religious Sister, he encourages her by sharing some
of his thoughts on how to live the religious life.

I wish to love God.
I wish always to be with God,
and to do everything for the love of God.
The center of all love for God
consists in giving ourselves entirely to God
by being in all things conformable to the divine will,
and remaining in this conformity for all eternity.

He once wrote in a letter:

To love God much.
Always united to God.
To do all for God.
To love all for God.
To conform myself
entirely to his holy will.
To suffer much for God.

The following is a quote taken from a letter St. Gerard wrote shortly before he died.

I am writing this letter from my cross, and with no time left - I have to hurry. I have only a short time left, and if I did not force myself to carry on, my tears would simply stop me writing altogether.

The pain is so very, very severe, that I feel death coming on. Yet, when I fancy I am just going to die, I find I go on living so that I can suffer more and more.

I cannot think of anything else to say. I cannot send you the agony and bitterness I feel, so that you can feel it too. I know that you are all happy, and the fact that you are happy is enough, with God's help, to give me new courage and energy.

Blessed be God forever! He does not let me die under this hail of blows. Instead, he lets me win the battle against death, and then he lets me be tortured. He does this, so that I can imitate my holy Redeemer. He is my teacher, I am his pupil, and it is only right that I should learn from him and follow in his footsteps. But at present I cannot follow in his footsteps. I cannot walk. I cannot even move, being fastened with him to the cross, and in terrible agony...