Truth of the ‘Gun Saint’?

A campaign is under way in the United States to have Saint Gabriel declared patron of hand-gunners. This is in reference to an apocryphal story which has the saint rescuing the town of Isola from marauding bandits, using the skills from hunting he had learnt as a boy. Whilst this story is mentioned in one biography of the saint, [1] the author admits that some of the accounts in his book were invented to “enliven” the story.[2] No account of the alleged event is present in an other independently researched biography of the saint [3][4][5][6] , in particular early sources of the saint’s life make no mention of it [7][8][9]  making such an incident seem unlikely. Moreover at the time of the alleged incident (1860) Gabriel was in the later stages of tuberculosis making such a strenuous exercise impossible for one in such a condition.[10] The author has been in contact with several biographers of Saint Gabriel and in private correspondence they have all expressed that the event did not take place.


1 Poage, G. “Son of the Passion”, page 93. Daughters of St. Paul, 1977

2 Poage, G. “Son of the Passion”, page 3. Daughters of St. Paul, 1977

3 Ward C.P., N. “Life of Venerable Gabriel C.P.”, Burns and Oates, 1904

4 Burke C.P., E., “Happy Was My Youth – Saint Gabriel – Passionist”, Gill and Son, 1961

5 Cingolani, C.P., G., “Saint Gabriel Possenti, Passionist: A Young Man in Love”, Alba House, 1997

6 Mead C.P., J. “St. Gabriel: A Youthful Gospel Portrait”, L’Eco di S. Gabriele, 1985

7 Memorie Storiche Sopra la Vita e le Virtù del Giovane Francesco Possenti, tra I Passionisti Confratel Gabriele dell’Addolorata”, Turin, 1868

8 Germano C.P., P. “Vita delle San Gabriele dell’Addolorata, Rome, 1924

9 P. Norberto “Memorie sulla Vita e Virtù di Confratel Gabriele dell’Addolorata (Francesco Possenti), San Gabriele, 1970 – the memoirs of St. Gabriel’s Spiritual Director

10 Mead C.P., J. “St. Gabriel: A Youthful Gospel Portrait”, page 37. L’Eco di S. Gabriele, 1985