St Gemma and the valiant "lions of Folgore"


Today being the feast day of St Gemma, we should ask her intercession for all paratroopers and parachutists.

During the second world war, from 1941-1942, Italian paratroopers of the crack 185th parachute division Folgore (Lightning) were trained at Tarquinia where the local Passionist sisters were asked to sew their badges onto their uniforms. The holy sisters feared for the safety of the young men, and sewed in a couple of extras: a holy card and a relic of St Gemma Galgani who had been canonised in 1940. The soldiers very much appreciated this kindness and formally asked the Postulator General of the Passionists to declare St Gemma the patron saint of paratroopers. (For more, see St Gemma -The Patron Saint of Paratroopers and Parachutists)

It should be noted that the Folgore division fought with great valour in October and November of 1942 at the second battle of El Alamein, resisting General Montgomery's 8th army offensive until their ammunition was exhausted. Winston Churchill praised them in the House of Commons, saying “We must honour the men that were the Lions of the Folgore.” (For more, see The Desert’s Lions, The Lions of Folgore) Let us ask St Gemma to pray for the repose of the souls of the men who are under her special protection.












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