It was just a few weeks into my pregnancy and my nervous self was concerned that I hadn’t yet started feeling pregnancy nausea.
“How many weeks along was I when I first started feeling sick with my first?”
I pondered and calculated. Just in time for my unhelpful and escalating worries, I received a relic of Saint Gerard from my mother-in-law. A relic she requested all the way from off the coast of Scotland by contacting the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer or “Transalpine Redemptorists.”
These monks live on Golgotha Monastery Island and have a devotion to the Italian Saint Gerard. They send their prayers along to anyone who asks, along with a relic of Saint Gerard. Their website reads, “In this age, when the sanctity of life is attacked on all fronts, it is a privilege for the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer to provide the relic of Saint Gerard for any mother who requests one, or for whom one is requested.”
The relics that they send are each touched to a First Class relic of Saint Gerard and made into a gold ribbon belt with a sewn on image of Our Mother of Perpetual Succour. The relic is also sent along with the prayers of these holy monks. Here is the story behind it.
Patron of Expectant Mothers + Those Hoping to Conceive
Born in April of 1726, Gerard is popular today in particular for his patronage over expectant mothers and those trying to conceive. His patronage may be due in part to his own poor health as an infant which persisted throughout his life. In fact, when he was older, two religious orders turned him away, claiming he was not strong enough.
In time, he was accepted as a brother in the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, also known as The Redemptorists. A congregation founded just years earlier by Saint Alphonsus Liguori (patron of arthritis sufferers).
Gerard was known for his long hours of praying before the Blessed Sacrament. This made him a welcome companion to his brother monks who often invited him to join them when they made house calls to the sick.
One evening, as Gerard was heading home after spending some time with his friends, a young girl ran out of the house because he had left his handkerchief inside. He replied to her by simply saying, “Keep it. It will be useful to you someday.” Years after this incident, as the girl grew into a young woman, she kept this handkerchief in safe-keeping. A relic which provided her a miracle as she was delivering her first child. During labor, both her and her unborn baby were in grave danger of death. It was then that she recalled the gift from Gerard and asked that the handkerchief be given to her. After placing the fabric upon her body, the danger miraculously disappeared and she gave birth to a healthy baby.
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Miracles of Saint Gerard
After this first miracle, the devotion to Saint Gerard couldn’t help but be promoted in his small Italian town. Eventually the handkerchief was passed on from mother to niece, and then on throughout the generations. Generously, pieces of the cloth were cut and distributed to be shared with other mothers in the area. It was not only mothers who popularized this devotion, but also the Founder of the Redemptorists himself after Saint Gerard died from tuberculosis at the age of twenty-nine. After his death Saint Alphonsus began distributing his portraits and relics, encouraging his fellow Redemptorists to do the same.
When his tomb was opened up just over one-hundred years later, a sweet, fragrant oil could be seen pouring out of his bones. Later that year two doctors and Ecclesiastical Authorities were called in to both witness and research this miracle. They then dried the bones and put them in a white-silk lined box. Just a few hours later they opened the box, finding again, the same fragrant oil pouring out from Gerard’s relics and atop the white silk. This miracle continued, spreading to other monasteries where his relics were being kept.
A Community of Saints
If you are looking for more Saints to intercede for you in your own fertility and motherhood, check out this amazing list that comes along with a downloadable litany. And don’t forget your Blessed Mother! The month of October is dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary. She is just waiting to pray with you and for you!
Who is your go-to Saint when it comes to pregnancy and motherhood?
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