Gabriel Possenti


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Passionist cleric. A younger son of the governor of Assisi and his wife, he studied at the Jesuit college at Spoleto. There he was known for his love of clothes, dancing, and the theatre, and was called Il Damerino (‘the ladies' man’). Twice during a serious illness he decided to enter a religious Order, twice he failed to do so. Later, in a procession of the miraculous ikon of Spoleto, he experienced an overpowering urge to become a religious and a priest. He achieved the first by joining the Passionist monastery at Morrovalle in 1856; the second was never fulfilled because he died young.

As a religious, he was noted for his cheerfulness (a characteristic which some portraits completely fail to reveal). He was committed to prayer and penance and specially devoted to the Sorrows of Mary, but the shadow of serious illness was never far away. He died at Isola del Gran Sasso of tuberculosis at the age of only twenty-four after a short but exemplary religious life.

Immense numbers of pilgrims have visited his shrine. He was canonized in 1920 and nominated patron of youth; later he was declared patron of the Abruzzi region. Some of his writings, mainly letters, have been published. He is also called Gabriele dell'Addolorata. Feast: 27 February.

B. Ceci, Scritti di S. Gabriele dell'addolorata (1963); F. Giorgini, Fonti storico-biographice di S. Gabriele dell'Addolorata (1965); Lives by C. Hollobough (1923); P. Gorla (1951); B.L.S., ii. 260; Bibl. SS., v. 1336–9.

Subjects: Christianity.

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