The eleventh of thirteen children of Sante Possenti, a
lawyer and the Governor of Assisi,
Italy, he was born in 1838 and was Baptized Francis, then later
educated at the Jesuit college
at Spoleto. His mother died when the young Saint was a small boy.
He joined the
Jesuits when he was seventeen after he had
to do so if cured of an almost fatal illness, but delayed entering the
novitiate. His father, who misunderstood the meaning of worth of a
religious vocation did much to try to dissuade his son. But Francis was
devoted to the Sorrowful Heart of Mary. It was Our Lady who helped him
to bear up during this trial.
intelligent and personable young man, while still in his teens, set his
heart on that which transcends anything of this world. Answering the
call of his
Crucified Lord, he joined the Passionist Congregation in his 18th year,
taking the name Br. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows [or the Sorrowful
The heart of his spirituality was to study and imitate the virtues of
our Suffering Savior as mirrored in the heart of the Sorrowful Virgin
He led an exemplary life as a
religious, filled with penances and self-effacement, was stricken with
tuberculosis before he could be ordained, and died at Isola di Gran
in the Abruzzi on February 27, 1862: he was not yet twenty-four. Yet,
had attained such remarkable sanctity in
that short time he was a Passionist that he was canonized a Saint by
the Church in 1920.
Only five years later, weekly devotions in his honor were begun in St.
Michael Church, Union City, N. J. For over 55 years, thousands of
favors-----some of a most extraordinary nature-----have
been granted and are
attributed to his powerful intercession with Christ Crucified and the
Sorrowful Mother Mary.
a patron of youth, his intercession for
young people has a special power with God.
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