St. Gerard Handkerchief
It was toward the end of August, 1755, the last year of St. Gerard's earthly life. During this time, while he was staying at Oliveto Citra in the hopes of some improvement from the serious illness which would soon end his life. Gerard visited some of the families of the town.
As he was leaving one of the homes, a young lady present there observed that he had left his handkerchief on a chair. Thinking he had forgotten it, she picked it up, handing it to him. He, however, reading into the future, was inspired by God to say to her, "No. Keep it. One day it will be of service to you." That handkerchief was the symbolic heritage that the Saint left to God's creatures who have the sacred duty on earth to render, in pain, the continuation of human life.
In fact, a few years later, the young lady married. The birth of her first child was so difficult that she was at the point of death. Invoking her patron saints to deliver her appeared to be in vain until she suddenly remembered Saint Gerard's handkerchief. She asked for it and held it to herself. Not only did the pain of delivery immediately cease, but she experienced the joy of the immediate birth of her child.
Afterwards, that handkerchief was passed from one mother to another of the town as each was about to give birth, and when the first fortunate woman died, she left the precious relic to her niece. As time passed, the handkerchief was cut into so many pieces that, when the process for Gerard's canonization began, there remained only a shred of it.
The news of this miraculous handkerchief traveled farther than the borders of Oliveto Citra. Even expectant mothers who did not own a piece of the handkerchief invoked this Saint during hours of labor with great faith and their prayers were not said in vain.
We know that during the beatification process in 1845, an image of Gerard was distributed bearing a reference to, and thus, making him known as the Protector of Expectant Mothers. Today, the miraculous deeds of Saint Gerard Maiella are universally known and recognized, not only by the Faithful, but also by the authorities of the Church.
Handkerchiefs which are taken to the Sanctuary at Materdomini and touched to his tomb carry blessings of the Saint to expectant mothers of the world, who, with the protection and help of St. Gerard, experience the purest joys of a healthy and safe delivery.
May the symbolic, blessed handkerchief of St. Gerard help us to understand how, in these difficult times, the beauty of maternity can become clouded by the pressures of life. May the knowledge of it give strength to mothers to embrace with faith and hope the Christian duties enjoined by motherhood.
Anyone who may be in need of the St. Gerard medal, handkerchief, prayer card or novena book please call the Rectory.