Saint Gerard Maiella
The people experience the personal presence of God through Saint Gerard Twenty-Four hours a day, 7 days a week you can find people, particularly women with a difficult pregnancy, visiting the Shrine of St. Gerard. In their need, pregnant women experience God's protection mediated by St. Gerard. It is as if St. Gerard assures them that God is listening and answering their prayer.
Every year, during the feast of St. Gerard, hundreds of parents report the graces they have received through the intercession of St. Gerard. People come from all over the tri-state area and beyond. They come from various ethnic groups
In the second half of 1890s, the predominant immigrant groups in the First Ward were coming from the Province of Avellino. They came with a sense religious life deeply expressed in a love for St. Gerard, who lived in the Province of
Avellino during eighteenth-century.
St. Gerard Maiella showed special attention to expectant mothers. In 1899, immigrants from Caposele, Italy introduced the annual feast in honor of St. Gerard, who died October 16, 1755. Every October the feast of St. Gerard continues to be a highlight for the parish. Now for more than 100 years, St. Gerard has been an integral part of St. Lucy's in a profound way. St. Lucy's community bears witness to the fact that St. Gerard is a patron of new life, expressed powerfully in the symbol of expectant women.
St. Gerard was born in Muro, a small town in the South of Italy on April 6, 1726. He was the only son of Benedetta and Comenico Maiella who already had three daughters. Because of his frail health he was not immediately accepted into the Order but, due to his insistence and persistence he was finally accepted in May of 1749 and became a lay brother of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. He was a model of obedience and in everything he sought the Will of God.
During his apprenticeship he performed many miracles. He is known especially for his "Motherhood" miracles.
Although no one has officially been designated as the Patron of Mothers, the title has been given to him by popular acclaim in many countries, including the United States.St. Gerard died in October, 1755, at age 29.
In 1977, St. Gerard's chapel in St. Lucy's Church was dedicated as a national shrine. Each year during our Feast days which include October 16th, there are the traditional lights, music, food stands and the street procession, it is apparent that this Feast is a spiritual exercise with all of the essential activity centered around the 'Saint' and the Chapel. Devotees visit the Shrine also throughout the year to pray to and petition the help of this Miraculous Wonder Worker.
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 at 973-803-4200 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org