Wednesday, February 28, 2018

More on St. Gabriel Possenti

(I love this sculpture.)

Patron saint of gun nuts ... for no good reason.

My devotion to St. Gabriel goes back to 2nd or 3rd grade - he and St. Aloysius, St. Stanislaus Kostka, John Berchmans, were all special patrons to me.  All young saints.  It doesn't make me an expert on their life and virtue of course, but I'm familiar enough to know some of the apocrypha surrounding their lives.

People make things up about the saints, hagiographers embellish their lives, and write unrealistic accounts.  How many saints are considered 'gay saints' today?  With absolutely no evidence, or in some cases, misconstruing episodes or relationships in their lives according to 20th century understanding to suit an agenda.  S. Sebastian and S. Joan of Arc are perhaps the most celebrated as 'queer' saints.  Yesterday St. Gabriel Possenti was celebrated by Catholic gun cultists as patron saint of gunners and marksmen - all based upon an apocryphal story of the saint.

Last night I researched my little library and found nothing to give credence to the story.  One book in particular, printed in 1910 shortly after the beatification of Possenti, Life of Blessed Gabriel, CP by Nicholas Ward, CP, was valuable in shedding light on the question.  The book is based entirely on the positio for the cause of Gabriel Possenti.  It contains the biography of the saint, testimony of witnesses, step by step on the Work of Perfection - detailing the saints practice of the cardinal and theological virtues, as well as details of the miracles attributed to him after death.  All the evidence necessary for beatification.

The purported episode with the gun is nowhere to be found, and the story itself is not at all characteristic of the saint's conduct.  The manner in which the biography is written, with the emphasis on religious discipline makes it even more unbelievable.  The Confraters - the name used for Passionist male religious, pretty much did nothing without permission.  It's doubtful they would be wandering around town on their own, especially in a situation like the one described.

The story was inserted into his biography 25 - 30 years ago.  “As far as we can tell, it’s anecdotal,” Carrillo says of the Isola gunfight. “It appears in a particular biography written about 25 to 30 years ago, and it is not likely to be based in historical fact.

The story is promoted by the St. Gabriel Possenti Society and Society chairman John M. Snyder.  Their evidence is based upon a biography of the saint written by Rev. Godfrey Poage, C.P., who stated in the introduction to his book published in 1962, explained that, ‘nothing was said that had not been quoted by eyewitnesses, at least in the third person.’  Yeah, well.  I was around in 1962 and there was a trend to make saints appealing to modern youth and methinks the gun story was inserted to make Gabriel a bit more appealing to all American boys.  He looked a bit effeminate in the holy cards images distributed, and they certainly didn't want to promote his reputation of a 'dandy' with a taste for fashion, much less his dance expertise dance.

Anyway.  Looks like everyone does this stuff.  Fr. Z promotes gunners, Fr. James Martin promotes gays, and they all pick out patron saints to suit their causes.  Yesterday I did a post on FB calling out Church Militant again.  They did a story on a bishop calling for parishioners to let him know if an announcement wasn't read in their parishes.  They asked, "Is this right for a bishop to ask parishioners to spy on their priests?"  I responded:
This is almost funny. CM questions Bishop Olson's request for parishioners to let him know if an advisory he issued was not read at Masses. CM says the bishop is asking Catholics to spy on their priests. My comment on their post was: "Isn't that what Voris and the rest of you do yourselves? Spy on priests and bishops and publish scandal sheets?" 
Go figure.

I said in my alarm;
'no man can be trusted'
all have gone astray,
there is not a good man left -
there is no one who does good,
no, not even one. 


  1. Terry, I know exactly how you feel when you write about various groups with agendas appropriating holy saints for their causes. Every time anyone depicts my good St. Francis as being an airy flower child, preaching to the animals, they fail to remember he was the most obedient, devoted son of the Church and lived his life in imitation of Jesus. He didn't picket and complain - he dug in with both hands to personally ease the suffering of the poor and neglected. He did not delegate his ministry - he did the work himself.

    The day after Christmas, PBS aired a "docudrama" entitled "The Sultan and The Saint", which depicted St. Francis's noble and courageous mission to the Muslims in the midst of the Crusades as an attempt to "learn from the Muslims." They even deceitfully claimed that he acquired their habit of praying 5 times a day (the Liturgy of the Hours was already in use by the Benedictines and others for a couple of centuries at that point.)

    The truth is that St. Francis risked his life (which he had given to God),armed only with a rosary, to walk into the middle of a war zone - not to be friendly and ecumenical and "learn from the Muslims", but to convert their immortal souls to Catholicism and to give them the Good News of the Gospel. He was, of course, depicted as a dazed (redheaded!) goof who kept repeating the words of the peace prayer of St. Francis (make me a channel of Your peace, etc.) St. Francis was a charismatic and gifted preacher who had no need of recycling his homilies - certainly not with the words that were, according to historians, that were not written until the 19th century. Of course, the Sultan was depicted as urbane, deeply spiritual, educated, and very handsome. Church officials were shown to be fat, unattractive, and greedy.

    This whole fiasco was funded by the Franciscan Action Network (neither Franciscan nor Catholic - we Secular Franciscans are forced to support them via our yearly dues), with Franciscan priests and sisters as consultants, which makes it even more painful.

    I know it sounds dramatic, but it really feels like we Franciscans are under attack. Please pray for us.

    God bless and protect all here - Susan, ofs

  2. "the self-righteous can't tell when they're wrong, they make up stuff"

    Wow ... I relate though as I have learned the hard way (over these many years) that pride and vanity and self-righteousness are killers of both the soul and the faith.

    I don't want to waste my time snitching on anybody in the Church I'll let Mr. Voracious and his group handle such issues. There! I called a self-important person a very nasty name! I could not help myself! I blame it on their influence, Terry!


    Now this is an odd bit of news, Terry. Hope you check it out. *_*


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