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Catholics This Week Commemorate St. Gabriel Possenti

Contact: John M. Snyder, St. Gabriel Possenti Society, Inc., 703-212-9863


ARLINGTON, Va., Feb. 26 /Christian Newswire/ -- John M. Snyder submits the following for publication:


Catholics This Week Commemorate St. Gabriel Possenti

By John M. Snyder


On February 27, Catholic and other religionists commemorate the Feast Day of St. Gabriel Possenti, an Italian seminarian who died 145 years ago on this date in Isola del Gran Sasso.


Today, Isola is about a two or three hour automobile drive east of Rome.


In 1860, Possenti rescued villagers in Isola from a terrorizing gang of renegade soldiers with a striking one-shot demonstration of handgun marksmanship.


The renegades had separated from the main body of Garibaldi's army following the battle of Pesaro.


The 20 or so renegades ransacked and pillaged Isola.


At the time, Possenti was a seminarian in a Passionist monastery adjacent to Isola. Prior to entering the Passionist religious order, he had become a pistol, rifle and shotgun marksman. When the renegades were doing their dirty work in Isola, Possenti entered the center of the village in an attempt to help out the terrorized townspeople.


Possenti wrested a handgun from the holster of a soldier attempting rape and rescued the soldier's intended young female victim. He grabbed a second pistol from one of that soldier's associates.


The rest of the renegade gang approached Possenti, thinking they could make short shrift of this religious figure.


At that point, a lizard ran across the road. Possenti fired one shot at it, killing it. He then pointed the two handguns at the gang and let them know in no uncertain terms that he meant business. He ordered the now-terrified cutthroats to disarm, which they did, and forced them to put out the fires they had started and to return the property they had stolen. Then, he marched the whole lot of them out of town. The grateful townspeople accompanied Possenti back to his monastery in triumphal procession, calling him, "Savior of Isola!"


Possenti died two years later of consumption. Pope Benedict XV canonized him in 1920.


For nearly 20 years, a number of us, through the St. Gabriel Possenti Society, Inc. have been promoting public recognition of Possenti, and seeking his official Vatican designation as Patron of Handgunners.


A number of current Passionists have been opposing this move, even though it was one of their own, the late Rev. Godfrey Poage, C.P., who described the "Savior of Isola" incident in a chapter of his hagiography, Son of the Passion, recapitulated in our own volume, Gun Saint.


Regardless of the opposition, though, we are determined to keep on pressing the case, as we believe that St. Gabriel Possenti provides a holy example of the salutary social effects of handgun possession by respectable individuals.


Throughout the year, but especially on his Feast Day, we commemorate St. Gabriel Possenti as a champion of the right to self-defense, and ask that he pray for us and our families and our friends and yes, even our enemies, so that finally they may see the light.