8. Intercessor

Above the proofs that Gabriel gave of his heroism, and above the declaration of the people, is the testimony of God. He sets His seal upon our hero’s sanctity, and stamps it as genuinely heroic by working miracles through his intercession. The following accounts of miracles are taken from a life of Gabriel by Father Nicholas Ward, C.P.:

“Mary Mazzarella, aged twenty, lived with her parents in the town of Isola. For nearly three years she had been suffering with serious complications affecting her lungs, stomach, and spine, with constant daily fever and headache. At first there seemed to be question only of gastralgia, or neuralgia of the stomach, but clear symptoms soon made it evident that acute tubercular phthisis, or consumption, had set in. Three haemorrhages ensued. Gradually losing all appetite, the physician allowed her to take anything she might fancy; but her daily food hardly amounted to two or three spoonfuls of the pottage prepared for the family. Her condition steadily became worse. In January, 1892, she experienced great pains all through her body, and six ulcerous wounds broke out.

These wounds continued to enlarge, and prevented her from, resting either by day or night. From five of the wounds putrid matter was discharged. She became so weak that she could not stand on her feet, and was unable to bear the light. The summer heat inconvenienced her greatly, so that she could hardly breathe; then loss of sleep, joined with the constant oppression on her chest, so affected her voice that she could speak only with difficulty. The remedies used were of no avail, and she lost confidence in medicine. In August she was persuaded to allow Dr. Tattoni to attend her. After a careful examination, he declared the case hopeless. Finally, she turned to heaven for her cure, and, with all the confidence and tenderness of a loving child, besought her Blessed Mother to help her. Now, it happened that one day in October, having fallen asleep, she saw a beautiful lady with a child in her arms, and she was told to go and pray at the tomb of the young Passionist at the monastery, and use some of his relics that she might be cured. At the request of her uncle, Father Germanus, Passionist, went to see her. This is what he says : When first I saw her I was seized with horror. She seemed to me like a corpse, the only sign of life being a slow and painful breathing. Propped up with pillows, she was lying motionless, tormented with six large purulent ulcers, that gave her no rest by day or night. It was then three months since she had taken solid food, and I remember saying on that occasion that, if the Blessed Virgin cured her, it would be a miracle like the resurrection of Lazarus/ This visit took place two days after the patient saw in her sleep the vision of a beautiful lady and child. Father Germanus did not believe the story of her vision. He said that we should not tempt God, that the patient should not be put to the discomfort of being taken to the church, that the journey might hasten her death, and that if the Blessed Virgin were willing to obtain for her a cure, she would do it without the journey at all.

The girl herself informs us: Father Germanus came to see me on October 20th. He put about my neck a crucifix belonging to Confrater Gabriel, the servant of God, and he put on me also the leathern girdle that was taken out of his grave. The Passionist Father greatly comforted me, exhorting me to have confidence in the intercession of this holy religious. He told me to make a vow to go barefooted to the monastery church in case the favor should be granted, assuring me that after three days of prayer, made with my heart rather than with my lips, I would obtain my cure. Meanwhile the malady did not abate, but I recommended myself the best I could to Confrater Gabriel. The triduum was to finish on Sunday, October 23d. Saturday evening I felt very, very sick, and my people at home were more than usually downcast, for when they carried me to my room they had great trouble in undressing me and getting me ready for bed. So far poor Mary’s account. We learn from other sources that her family s anxiety was even greater that night than she imagined. Her mother, who had no longer any hope of her daughter s cure as the result of the triduum, and fearing, besides, that the girdle might inconvenience her, was about to take it away, but Mary objected, saying that the whole night was still wanting to complete the three days.

” Towards the first dawn of the following day, Sunday (to resume Mary’s own narrative), I told my sister to recite the Litany, and to join me in praying to the servant of God. While I was saying the litany there came upon me a quiet sleep, such as I had not had for a long time. After a while I awoke full of joy, feeling that I was cured completely cured. My strength had returned, the sores were closed, and one of them, which was very large and about to open, disappeared altogether. Filled with delight, I say to my sister, “Get up! I am cured! Confrater Gabriel has done this miracle for me!” For well-nigh eight months I had been unable to wait upon myself; my people had to assist me in everything. Now, that morning I got up at once, dressed myself in haste, and went down to the kitchen. My sister would not believe her eyes; she kept by my side, afraid lest it all might be a delusion. But I went downstairs, and stood before my parents and the servant-maid, who were all in the kitchen. My mother was astounded when she saw me, but I said to her: “Mamma, don t be afraid; Confrater Gabriel has performed the miracle for me;” and to reassure my poor mother all the more, I took the baby from her arms into mine.

“Now, it happened that the feast day of Isola was celebrated on that Sunday, and there was in the town an extraordinary concourse of strangers. Mary s father, beside himself with emotion, ran out of the house weeping. The neighbors crowded around, thinking that his daughter had just died; and, lot there was Mary among them sound and happy. All were deeply moved, and wept for joy. That same morning Mary went to the parish church with her parents, heard Mass, and received Communion. The next day she went to the sanctuary of Our Lady of Favours outside of the town; and on the following Tuesday that is, October 25th two days after her cure, together with all her family, all barefoot like herself, and accompanied by the whole population of Isola, she went to fulfil her vow at the tomb of God s servant. She walked all the way, going and returning, a distance of about five miles, and has enjoyed perfect health ever since. 1his cure has been attested by the sworn statements of Mary herself, her parents, Father Ciaverelli, the two physicians, Dr. Tauri and Dr. Rossi, and several others.”

“One evening in June, 1893, there came from Acquasanta to the retreat of Isola a cripple named Anthony Mancini, who for many years had lost the use of his limbs in consequence of an obstinate arthritis. As the disease had crippled him in a frightful manner, the physicians attempted to straighten him by breaking the joints of his thighs and knees; but this only completed his ruin, and deprived him of all hope of ever being able to take another step. Besides, the poor man was wasting away through muscular atrophy, so that he could no longer move his body, and was forced to spend his days seated in an arm-chair, from which he had to be lifted into bed at night.

“Seated thus, and even bound to his chair (lest the motion of the wagon should throw him off), he arrived after a long journey, at the Passionate Church. All who saw him were touched with deep compassion, and as he was moved from the wagon, and carried to the tomb of Gabriel, many joined with him in prayer, asking his cure from God. During the night he was given lodgings in the abandoned retreat, and the next morning he was brought in his arm-chair into the church to Gabriel s sepulchre. After the parish priest of Isola had heard his confession and given him Communion, the poor man continued his prayers to the servant of God. All at once, in the sight of all the people, Anthony arose from his chair cured, exclaiming : Gabriel, the servant of God, has granted me the favour! Leaving his chair behind him in the church, he got into his wagon unassisted, and joyfully turned his face homeward, blessing God. The people of the villages and towns through which he had passed on his way to Isola, and who had seen him in so pitiful a state, were now speechless with surprise on beholding him hale and hearty, and every now and then he had to stop to satisfy their curiosity.”

“Not less extraordinary was the case of Cajetan Mariani, of Arnatrice. In consequence of a stroke of apoplexy, he was paralyzed for twelve years in his whole body, so that he could barely drag himself around with the help of a stick. He was seventy-one years old, and entertained no hope of a cure; still less did he think of praying, for he had lived estranged from God for a long time. One day, by some unaccountable impulse, he desired to go to Isola. As he entered the monastery church he saw a priest hearing confessions, and asked to be heard himself. The bystanders were greatly astonished at this, because they knew him well. Greater still was their wonder when they saw the old man making his confession with an abundance of tears. A few days afterwards, continues the priest to whom we are indebted for these facts, as I returned to the church, the man came up to me quite joyfully, his eyes moistened with tears, and said: nOh, Father, this dear servant of God obtained three great graces for me; he touched my heart and brought me back to God. I have prayed and felt myself cured all at once of my paralysis, so that I am well and can walk about with ease, you see; besides, I was afflicted for many years with rupture ; this, too, has disappeared this very hour. What shall I do to show my gratitude to God for so many blessings?”

“Whatever the enticing advertisements in our daily papers and circulating pamphlets, medical science tells us that the radical cure of rupture (hernia) is seldom accomplished except by operative surgery, and not a single instance has ever been recorded of instantaneous cure of hernia. Now, we read in the processes that Gabriel has declared himself by facts to be the special friend of the ruptured, and in 1897 we find on the register about ninety cases of complete and instantaneous cure.”

Gabriel was a faithful servant in a few things, and now God makes him the dispenser of many graces and blessings. The miracles recorded are but a few of the many wrought through his intercession. By visits to his tomb, by prayer to him, and by the use of his relics, the sick have been cured, the blind have been made to see, the dumb to speak, the deaf to hear, and the crippled to walk. Not one-half the miracles worked by God through His servant are kept on record, and still up to the present over four hundred have been recorded. A large store-room, or treasure-house, has been erected beside the church at Isola to contain the votive offerings of those who have received favours from God through Gabriel’s intercession. The dying, restored to life through having recourse to him, have left there the coffins that had been prepared for them. Cripples have left there their chairs and crutches. Hundreds of immense wax candles are stored there. High cases with glass doors line the walls, and are stocked with costly church vestments, and all kinds of gold and silver church plate and ornaments. Some have left their earrings there, some their rings, and some their watches, bracelets and chains. These are numbered by the thousand; each is an offering in thanksgiving for something Gabriel has done for the giver. And this wonder-worker was only twenty-four years old when he died ! He was less than six years in religion! He is not yet fifty years in the grave! One of his brothers is still alive! Oh, wonderful are the ways of God! We seem to hear Him saying:

“Well done, good and faithful servant, because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will place thee over many” (Matt. xxv. 21).