St Gerard Majella: Rediscovering a Saint

Majella is a familiar enough personal name in Northern Ireland, as Fr McConvery reminds us, and in past decades there was a wide spread devotion to him, especially in matters that concerned what the author calls ìthe great life- giving mysteriesî of conception, labour and birth. Though St Gerard (born in 1726 and died in 1755), was in his life time an obscure member of his order, he had in the country around Naples a reputation for great saintliness. Soon after his death in 1755 a devotion sprang up to him, especially focussed on those having difficult births  ñ arising from the reputed efficacy of a handkerchief he had given years before to a young woman in labour. He was canonised in 1904, and especially in Italy and Ireland, became the focus great devotion. The author provides an attractive and well illustrated account of both the saintís life and his extending influence. St Gerard seems to him a very appropriate model for modern times.