Thursday, February 27, 2014

Saint Gabriel Possenti

[Originally published February 27, 2013]

I am often struck by how the Saints work themselves into our lives. One Saint with whom I am feeling a growing connection is St. Gabriel Possenti. Today, February 27, is the Feast Day devoted to this interesting Saint.

St. Gabriel Possenti was a Catholic seminarian in Isola del Gran Sasso, Italy. In 1860 he is said to have used his skills with the pistol to drive off a band of marauding soldiers who were terrorizing the town. Possenti faced the troublemakers after grabbing revolvers from two soldiers. As they laughed at the young student, he took aim and accurately shot a lizard that was running across the road. Impressed, the soldiers left the town, escorted by the seminarian, who had become the hero of the town.

Like many Saints, there's an unclear line between the facts of the Saint's life and the "tradition" associated with him. However, this story about Gabriel Possenti has led to him being promoted as the Patron Saint of Handgunners. The St. Gabriel Possenti Society was created for the purpose of promoting the Saint's cause. The society also promotes the study of the historical, philosophical and theological bases for the doctrine of self-defense.

A couple of years ago, our parish was presented with a relic of St. Gabriel Possenti, under the name St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows. It was an exciting moment when I saw the blurb announcing the displayed relic in our weekly bulletin. Since then, I've enjoyed sharing the story of Gabriel Possenti with many parishioners.

When some local Catholics were looking for a name for a blog devoted to Catholicism and self defense, we were naturally drawn to honor the Saint by creating Gabriel Possenti Shooters. I dare say most of our Catholic friends who also enjoy shooting are familiar with the Saint and his story.

Recently, I was looking at my Virginia Concealed Handgun Permit when I was struck by the anniversary date printed on the permit — February 27. Wow, my permit was issued on the Feast Day of the Patron Saint of Handgunners! That's some "coincidence." It would appear the Saint has been watching out for me longer than I have been aware of him.

St. Gabriel Possenti ora pro nobis!

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