Gemma Galgani was the first person who lived in the 20th century to become a saint. Born in Lucca, she died of tuberculosis at 25 after a life of intense personal spirituality. Jesus caressed her as lovers do; the Virgin Mary was her affectionate Mom; and she even received all of Christ's wounds in her hands, feet and side. At the same time, she was mocked by her family and labelled a hysteric by doctors and the local bishop. Her trials and the intimate details of her supernatural encounters - the voices of Gemma Galgani - are revealed here in this marvellous book by Rudolph M. Bell and Cristina Mazzoni. Bell and Mazzoni have chosen and translated the most important of Gemma's words: her autobiographical account of her childhood, her diary, and key selections from her "ecstasies" and letters. Gemma emerges as a very modern saint indeed: confident, grandiose, manipulative, childish, admired, and, with this book, no longer forgotten. Following Gemma's own voice, Bell carefully contextualizes her life and passion and explores her afterlife, specifically the complicated process of her canonization.
Mazzoni closes the book with a "Saint's Alphabet" that finds, through Gemma's voice, spiritual meaning for women in the 21st century. Far more than the reinvigoration of a neglected historical figure, "The Voices of Gemma Galgani" is a portrait of a complex girl-woman caught between the mediaeval and the modern and a potent reminder of spirituality in a supposedly secular age.
"This is a multi-textured study of the spiritual experience of Gemma Galgani. . . . Mazzoni allows Saint Gemma Galgani to speak to a postmodern world by considering her embodied self and clothing, her devotion to the Eucharist, her difficulties with food and hysteria, and much more. This chapter alone is worth the price of the book."--John J. O'Brien "Catholic Historical Review "