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Saint of the Day - Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows (February 27)

Saint Gabrielle of Our Lady of Sorrows is yet smoother example of a saint who lost one or both parents at a young age. In Saint Gabriel's case, he lost his mother when he was about four years of age. I have found much about this "unknown" saint (today is the first I have heard of him, but I guarantee, I will notice him being mentioned at least three times this week) published on the web, which I will interlace (with citations) throughout this brief article on this beautiful saint of God.

Image of Saint Gabriel retrieved from and used as being in the public domain

Saint Gabriel was born the eleventh of thirteen children to Santa and Agnes Possenti on March 1, 1838 at Assisi, Italy. In fact, he was baptized in the same baptismal font as Saint Francis of Assisi (feast day October 2) ( He was born Francesco Possenti and was baptized on the date of his birth, as was the custom in the nineteenth century in Italy. While his family was considered noble, his father was a bureaucrat and worked for the city of Assisi at the time of Saint Gabriel's birth. He would soon be transferred to Montalta and then to Spoleto, where he would be appointed as the legal assessor.

Within a span of two years (1841 to 1842), Francesco lost a baby sister named Rosa, a seven-year-old sister named Adele and of his mother in 1842. All of these sad events happened in Spoleto.

As a child, Saint Gabriel was known to be a meticulous dresser (who might have suffered from a bit of vanity) and also to be charitable and for his great piety. As a teen, he was known as "the dancer" and was very involved in the Spoleto social scene and was known to be a ladies man ( In fact, on the night he left to join the Passionist Order, there remained hopes that he might become engaged to a young lady named Maria Panachetti. Maria was in love with Saint Gabriel (she would subsequently attend his beatification and his canonization at Vatican City).

Saint Gabriel was known to be a good student and was educated in the city's college by the Christian Brothers and then the Jesuits. In fact, prior to joining the Passionists, Saint Gabriel wanted to be a Jesuit ( He was known to be particularly good with Latin, a subject in which he excelled.

In 1851, Saint Gabriel became very ill. He promised that he would enter religious life if he recovered. And recover he did. But his promise to enter religious life was soon forgotten and he did not then enter religious life.

Between 1848 and 1853, Saint Gabriel lost three of his siblings: Paul (in 1848 due to an unknown cause), Lawrence to suicide in 1851, and Mary Louisa (who raised him after the death of their mother) due to cholera in 1853.

Saint Gabriel fell ill again in 1853, this time with a throat abscess. He made the same promise to God to enter into religious life if he was cured. While he was cured and applied to join the Jesuits, nothing happened with it. We do not know why.

After the end of the cholera epidemic, Spoleto priests and clergy organized a procession with an ancient icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Saint Gabriel attended this procession. As the icon of the Blessed Virgin passed him, Saint Gabriel heard a clear voice that asked him why he remained in the world despite his promises to God to enter into religious life (

At this point, Saint Gabriel wasted no time in speaking to a priest about what he had heard. On the advice off the priest, Saint Gabriel entered the Passionist Order. Since the Passionists had no house in or near Spoletto, this decision was likely based on the priest's particular devotion to the Passion of Jesus. Again, wasting no time, Saint Gabriel, accompanied by his brother Aloysius (a friar of the Dominican Order), set out for Morrovalle and the nearest Passionist house. In the meantime, their father, Sante, had contacted relatives between Spoleto and Morrovalle to help dissuade Saint Gabriel from entering the religious life. Aloysius and Saint Gabriel stayed with many of them along the way. However, their efforts were of no avail and Saint Gabriel proceeded on his journey to the Passionist house in Morrovalle. Two days later, Saint Gabriel received the habit of the Passionists and entered the Order and received his name, Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows. After a year, he made his permanent vows. From this point, his life was under the direction of his spiritual director, Father Norbert of Holy Mary (who would also be his biographer).

In 1858, Gabriel and other seminarians moved to Pietvetorina to begin their priestly studies. However, due to local protests and violence, the group of students moved to the monastery at Isola del Gran Sasso, which was located in the province of Terano.

Saint Gabriel continued his ways as an excellent student. While Latin remained his strong suit, his spiritual journey accelerated at a rapid pace. It was during this time that Saint Gabriel started to display symptoms of tuberculosis. Saint Gabriel would die of tuberculosis on February 27, 1862. As he lay in his deathbed, he asked that all of his writings, save for his letters, be destroyed so that he would not suffer the sin of pride after his death ( He died surrounded by the whole of the monastery at Isola del Gran Sasso holding an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

One of his first cures was that of St. Gemma Galgani(feast day April 11) ( Though St. Therese (feast day October 1), was born after the death of Saint Gabriel and his writings were destroyed, he is considered a forefather off her "Little Way" (

Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows was beatified by Pope Pope Saint Pius X (feast day August 21) on May 31, 1908 at St. Peter's Square. He was canonized by Pope Benedict on May 13, 1920. He is the patron saint of youth and of those studying for the priesthood.


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Websites I regularly mention in my broadcast include:

Morning Offering ( and Catholic Online ( Franciscan Media ( is another site that I peruse regularly.


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