27 Feb – St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows: Patron of handgunners, marksmen, seminarians, novices

st gabriel of our lady of sorrowsToday is the feast of St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, Gabriel Possenti, according to the calendar of the Novus Ordo. In the older, traditional Missal we find that 28 February was given to him.   27 February is the day he died and was born into heaven in 1862, his dies natalis.

I visited his shrine beneath the great mountain Gran Sasso in Italy while I was in seminary.

Little Francesco Possenti came from a large family, 13 children, in Spoleto and was baptized in the same baptismal font as St. Francis of Assisi.

During a childhood illness he promised to become a religious if he were healed. This actually happened twice, but like many of us who make promises to God if He would only do something for us, Francesco forgot about it.  However, during a procession in honor of an image of Our Lady of Sorrows, Francesco finally felt strongly the calling to be a religious.  He took off for a Passionist house and noviatiate on the eve of his engagment.

When Francesco made his vows he was given the name in religion of Gabriel adding of Our Lady of Sorrows.  Gabriel made a special promise to spread devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows. His writings are imbued with this devotion and a special focus on the Passion of the Lord.  He was known for his perfect observance of the rule of the Passionists.

While still young was contracted tuberculosis.  He remained always in good spirits, never quitting his harsh mortifications however.  Before he could be ordained a priest, he died embracing an image of Our Lady of Sorrows.

Gabriel was canonized by Pope Benedict XV 1920 and declared him patron of Catholic youth. In 1959, Pope John XXIII named him the patron of the Abruzzi region, where he spent the last two years of his earthly life. His is also invoked by seminarians and novices.

St. Gemma Galgani attributed to St. Gabriel the cure which led her also to her vocation as a Passionist.

Let us look at his Collect from the 1962 Missale Romanum.


Deus, qui beatum Gabrielem dulcissimae Matris tuae dolores assidue recolere docuisti, ac per illam sanctitatis et miraculorum gloria sublimasti: da nobis, eius intercessione et exemplo; ita Genetricis tuae consociari fletibus, ut materna eiusdem protectione salvemur.


O God, who taught blessed Gabriel to reflect constantly upon the sorrows of Your most sweet Mother, and through her raised him on high by the glory of holiness and miracles: grant us, by his intercession and example; so to be joined to the tears of Your Mother, that we may be saved by her maternal protection.

Now here is the politically incorrect part of the story.  

st gabriel of our lady of sorrows 02From the Possenti Society:

In 1860, soldiers from Garibaldi entered the mountain village of Isola, Italy. They began to burn and pillage the town, terrorizing its inhabitants.

Possenti, with his seminary rector’s permission, walked into the center of town, unarmed, to face the terrorists. One of the soldiers was dragging off a young woman he intended to rape when he saw Possenti and made a snickering remark about such a young monk being all alone.

Possenti quickly grabbed the soldier’s revolver from his belt and ordered the marauder to release the woman. The startled soldier complied, as Possenti grabbed the revolver of another soldier who came by. Hearing the commotion, the rest of the soldiers came running in Possenti’s direction, determined to overcome the rebellious monk.

At that moment a small lizard ran across the road between Possenti and the soldiers. When the lizard briefly paused, Possenti took careful aim and struck the lizard with one shot. Turning his two handguns on the approaching soldiers, Possenti commanded them to drop their weapons. Having seen his handiwork with a pistol, the soldiers complied. Possenti ordered them to put out the fires they had set, and upon finishing, marched the whole lot out of town, ordering them never to return. The grateful townspeople escorted Possenti in triumphant procession back to the seminary, thereafter referring to him as “the Savior of Isola”.

st gabriel of our lady of sorrows 03Thus, some consider him to be the patron of shooters, marksmen, and handgun users.

For good reason. Thus endeth the lesson.

I think all you readers out there should consider concealed carry license courses and, afterwards, lots of training and practice.  Even if you choose, for one reason or another, not to carry – and for some people that is the reasonable, prudent, better choice – you will at least know something about firearms, laws, the training, and will also have received a heavy dose of how to de-escalate confrontations, avoid conflicts, increase your situational awareness, etc.  It is useful on many levels.  Don’t depend on the idiocies of the liberal media for your information about these things.  Get first hand and hands on experience.  Then you can have an opinion with weight.

Ask St. Gabriel to help you in the process.

“I want to break my own will into pieces, I want to do God’s Holy will, not my own. May the most adorable, most loveable, most perfect will of God always be done.” St. Gabriel

Be ready for when “Garibaldi’s” troops show up.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. My Pastor was telling us about St. Gabriel at Mass last night. He told us that St. Gabriel carried guns on his hips. Then Father told us that when he was in Mexico learning Spanish that there was a priest there that also carried pistols on his hips. To the locals he became known as Fr. Pistolas. He had to protect the donations given to his parish. No one messed with him.

  2. Cantor says:

    St. Odio Lacertos

  3. Semper Gumby says:

    I like to arm myself with two Colt .45s and a Guided Missal.

  4. JARay says:

    “Semper Gumby” a “guided Missal”…now there’s a thought!

  5. “To the locals he became known as Fr. Pistolas.”

    That should have read, “Padre Pistolas”

  6. Cafea Fruor says:

    For anyone unfamiliar with Italian wall lizards (of which species I’d imagine that lizard was), let me tell you, they are skittish and FAST. I got a lot of enjoyment watching them run around my garden when I lived near Genoa. You might get a few lizards here and there that get more sizable, but most wall lizards aren’t more than maybe 6-8 inches (including a long, skinny tail — unless one got in a fight and had his tail bitten off…) and a couple of inches in diameter around the body. A wall lizard basically can run like lighting, change direction before you can blink twice, and is a rather little target. Sure, that lizard had paused, but he could have been off like a rocket in a second. In sum: mad shootin’ skills if you can get one, I’d say.


  7. un-ionized says:

    Unfortunately, the pistol story is apocryphal, originating with the Possenti Society itself.

  8. Semper Gumby says:

    JARay: To misquote Al Pacino in Scarface: “Say hallo to my liturgical friend!”

  9. JonPatrick says:

    I just completed Part 1 of the NRA Piston Shooting course (the on-line part) and Saturday after next will go to the range for the hands-on portion of the course. I will be sure to ask St. Gabriel for his intercession that I pass the course successfully.

  10. JonPatrick says:

    That should be “… Pistol Shooting course …” of course.

  11. Filipino Catholic says:

    @unionized Apocryphal story or not, we still have another patron saint of self defense — more well-known as the patron of both the military and law enforcement, and the guardian angel of the entire Church Militant. I’m fairly sure I recall Christ counseling preparedness, something about buying a sword if one does not have one (but of course sternly admonishing to not live by the sword).

  12. caesare86 says:

    My dad grew up in Ascoli Piceno, about 35 miles north of San Gabriele’s sanctuary. My grandmother would every so often take him and the brothers on a day’s hike south to visit the shrine in the late 40s and early 50s. Already then it was a lightening rod for pilgrims in the area and many, many cures/miracles were attributed to his intercession. In 2006 I got to make the drive with my dad and it is real gem of a place for prayer. Something about dying at the age of 24…

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