St. Gerard Majella was born in Muro Lucano, Italy, on April 6, 1726. From his parents, he learned the love of prayer and sacrifice. When his father died, Gerard, being the only son, had to provide for his family by working as a tailor. At the age of 14, he sought to enter the Capuchin friars but was rejected because of his poor health. After a short time as the domestic servant of the bishop of Lacedonia, he returned to tailoring but earned a minimal income.
In April 1749, after attending a Redemptorist mission in Muro, Gerard succeeded in getting himself accepted by the Congregation. Following a trial period and a year of novitiate in the house at Deliceto, he professed religious vows on July 16, 1752. Gerard was noted for his observance of the Redemptorist rule and for collecting money for the community’s material needs.
His presence to people who were weighed down by poverty and illiteracy was a sign of hope. Gerard had great empathy and testified to trust in the love and the compassion of God.
During his five years as a lay brother in the Redemptorist Congregation, Gerard was remarkable for his apostolic zeal, patience in sickness, love for the poor, deep humility in the face of false accusations, heroic obedience, the spirit of penance, and constancy in prayer. He wrote numerous letters of spiritual direction.
The Lord favoured him with many spiritual gifts, including prophecy, the ability to read people’s hearts, and the gifts of miracles. He died at Materdomini on October 16, 1755.
Pope St. Pius X canonised Gerard Maiella on December 11, 1904. He is invoked as a patron of mothers, especially in times of pregnancy. Couples hoping to conceive a child also seek St. Gerard’s intercession.
The shrine of St. Gerard Majella is at the basilica in Materdomini, Italy.