27 Feb – St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows: Patron of seminarians, hand-gunners, marksmen

st gabriel of our lady of sorrowsToday we celebrate a saint whom we might invoke for help in our discussions of school safety in the wake of those mass murders, and prudence in general when it comes to gun ownership according to law and our inalienable rights.

27 February 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.

He 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{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. rdb says:

    I remember the ads in the Wanderer many years ago that spoke of “Pistol packing piety” and the intercession of St. Gabriel Possenti.

  2. teomatteo says:

    I wish it had been that Geico lizard

  3. Lorra says:

    St. Gabriel – “The Dude”
    What do you think, Father, about a senior citizen woman getting a concealed carry and taking instructions? I’ve been thinking about this for some time now. Our once nice city is going down the tubes due to an “element” that has been allowed to flourish the past eight or so years. But I have gotten into a scruple about getting a gun thinking perhaps Our Lady would like me to just use Her rosary as my only weapon. My husband has one, but since his illness, he’s about 25 steps behind. He means well, but he moves too slow to be of much use in an emergency when seconds count.

    [As I have said many times, carrying a concealed weapon is NOT for everyone. However, taking the instructions is, I think, for everyone. Also, keep in mind that you got the order mixed up: instruction first, conceal and carry after. Instruction covers laws, so you know what you are getting into, as well as tips about situational awareness, how to de-escalate conflicts, etc. That’s useful no matter what. It could be that in the course of the instruction and perhaps some additional training (the more then better) you will have a better idea of what is involved and you will know what you think and feel about it.]

  4. Benedict Joseph says:

    He has been one of my favorite saints since I was a boy. You’ve written about him before on his feast. Each year I forget him because, except for you, no one ever mentions him. I haven’t seen him ever on a post-conciliar calendar. He is one of those figures who you would especially like to meet and speak with. He was a well-rounded guy with a few chinks in his armor but heroic on more than one level.

  5. JustaSinner says:

    500 rounds a month with my Beretta PX4 Storm sufficient? [Sufficient… for what? Given the manifold possibilities, I’d have to say “no”. Nice system, by the way. The rotating barrel is pretty cool.] Have an FN Five seveN on back order. Looking forwards to turning some custom bullets for the very fast and hot 5.7 x 28mm rounds. [That is a tricky round. I wouldn’t fool around with it.] BTW, Father, are there anyone making grips with religious medals/icons? [Dunno. Sorry.] I know San Fran Nan Pelosi would think it’s heresy; but then again her moral compass thinks abortion is acceptable in Christ’s Church! [Nancy “the Theologian” Pelosi … best leave her out.]

  6. JustaSinner says:

    There is a ‘banned’ General car insurance commercial where the General’s car greases a gecko lizard on the road. But Warren Buffoon put a stop to that!

  7. Arele says:


    I am a rape survivor, and I also wrestled with my conscience about what Jesus and Mary would approve of for self-protection. Only you can answer this for yourself, but here is an excerpt from an article I wrote for Oregonlive back in 2012 that addresses this:

    “In a very real way, taking personal responsibility to protect myself and my loved ones rights another wrong. I left to others the responsibility to protect me, and because of that, I almost lost the life that God had given me. I see now that this responsibility cannot be abdicated, nor should it be.”

    “I now see that, along with law enforcement and our judicial system, I have a role in the protection of myself and my family. Sir Robert Peel, founder of our modern day police system, (and source of the nickname, bobbies) said that police are merely ‘members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen.’ In his words, ‘the duties of protection and self defense are incumbent upon each of us.'” http://www.oregonlive.com/argus/index.ssf/2012/05/concealed_handgun_license_empo.html

    I hope this helps!

    Training and instruction, like Fr. Z says, is vital, of course, but for me, this was and is also a part of my continued discernment of God’s Will for this in my life.

  8. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Re: Mary, the Church has always regarded Judith, Jael, and Deborah as types of the Virgin Mother. One of her titles in Greek is the Hyperstrategos (spelling?), which means something like the Head General. There are famous hymns and stories about her beating up on the Devil, and Fr. Z has posted illustrations of this. She is gentle, but she is also “terrible as an army in battle array.” (And anybody who has seen a Jewish mom roused up to defend her kids or herself has no reason to doubt the accuracy of this!)

    So there is no reason to believe that Mary disapproves of the gun, when there is no reason to believe that she would disapprove of the sword. As Proverbs says, a good woman is also “valiant.”

  9. Imrahil says:

    Dear Lorra,

    What do you think […] about a senior citizen woman getting a concealed carry and taking instructions?

    I am not Father, so please forgive me for some sort of answer. I’ll be brief.

    1. The idea that “the Blessed Virgin would have a problem with”, precisely spoken: that it would be sinful, to carry a gun as a laywoman outside a religious order complying with public law is a wrong one.

    2. For the situation the dear Lorra mentions, in setting priorities, it seems to me that knowledge in marital arts (the likes of which are drawn in self-defense courses) is what should be sought primarily. The thing with guns is that you when you do need them you have to have them at the ready, load them, unlock them, aim them, and then if necessary shoot them (or shoot warnings, etc.). There’s a reason that many armies have for a long time kept their bayonets (or even used their entrenching spades) for use in the (not too many) situations of actual close man-on-man combat.

    To be silent of the fact that if you weren’t friendly to the gun in the past (purifying-wise, etc.), or if you have bad luck, they get jammed or worse.

    3. So, needless to say, our reverend host is quite right about the “instruction first”. If only to combat (pun not int.) the notion (pardon the bluntness) that fire-guns work as they do in the imagination of those who haven’t practiced them (including, it seems, many videogame authors).

  10. Mary Jane says:

    Imrahil, if I may respectfully disagree, there are many situations where you don’t want to get close enough to the “problem” to use martial arts. If you are being physically attacked well yes martial arts would be super handy. But if you’re feet away from the problem, martial arts is not going to help much unless you want to throw yourself into the fray and perhaps become a victim too. I just read an article yesterday about a conceal carry holder who pulled his gun on a man who was beating up a police officer (the officer sustained some non-life threatening injuries like a broken eye socket). The gun never had to be fired – just having it pointed at the perpetrator was enough for the guy to stop pounding the officer.

    As Fr Z said, instruction first, then a decision about whether conceal carry is right for you can be determined.

  11. Pingback: CatholicSaints.Info » Blog Archive » Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

Comments are closed.