Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 5, 2007
Who is St. Gerard, why is he patron of expectant mothers
By SR. LOUISE ZDUNICH, NDC
He was able to discern the secret state of souls and thus brought many to Confession.
Because of his patience when mistreated by his employer, as well as the amount of work he accomplished throughout his life, he is sometimes considered the patron saint of labourers.
Because of his frail health, he was refused three times when he tried to enter a religious order. Later, because of Gerard's insistence, the Redemptorists accepted him. At his religious profession, he added a vow of always doing the most perfect.
He served as sacristan, gardener, porter, tailor and infirmarian while at the same time helping those in need. Because of his perseverance and faithfulness in his religious vocation, he is sometimes considered patron of vocations.
He was sent out with missionaries and often converted more people than they did. He was able to discern the secret state of souls and thus brought many to Confession. As a result, he is sometimes considered the patron saint of confessions.
He seemed to have extraordinary gifts. While in prayer, he was seen raised several feet above the ground (levitation). Records show that he was seen and spoken to in two places at the same time (bi-location).
Power over nature and sickness seemed to be part of these gifts as God performed many miracles through him to help others. He blessed a family's small supply of grain which then lasted until the next harvest. He multiplied the bread he distributed to the poor.
Once he walked across water, leading to safety the boats of fishermen who were threatened by a storm. His great charity earned him the title of "father of the poor" during his lifetime.
But most notable is his apostolate to mothers. It seems unusual that a man and a religious brother be considered a patron saint of expectant mothers. Although the Church has not officially proclaimed him as such, mothers throughout the world have claimed him for themselves and their children.
Many stories have been told about the origins of this devotion. Once a woman he had helped accused him of fathering her child.
Remembering Jesus' silence at his condemnation, he did not defend himself when he was called to account by the founder, St. Alphonsus, who later referred to him as a saint.
He was exonerated when the woman herself confessed to having falsely accused him. By his prayers, it seems, he helped many woman through safe childbirth.
This humble and simple lay brother who lived only 29 years received many extraordinary gifts from God which he used in God's service helping those in need.
One wonders if these stories are more fancy than fact but they show his reputation for holiness, as well as the rewarding devotion he has inspired through the last 300 years, especially in mothers.
Reading about St. Gerard, I realized that although differing in time and circumstances, his Christ-like life of love and service can be a model for young adults today.
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