St. Gerard Majella was a Redemptorist Brother who lived a heroic life of simplicity and holiness after the example of Christ, the Redeemer. During his lifetime the Lord, whom he adored tirelessly in the Blessed Sacrament, worked many miracles through him. One of such miracles includes the rescue of a woman who had complications giving birth.
She remembered during her difficult labor the time that the saintly Gerard had ‘forgotten’ his handkerchief at her house after a courtesy visit. When she tried to return it to Gerard, he remarked: ’keep it, for you will need it one day’. No sooner had she asked for the handkerchief to be brought to her and clasping it prayerfully in her hands did she give birth to her baby. The story of this miracle spread far and wide. After his canonization, Gerard was named the patron of expectant mothers with attendant countless miracles for mothers in all kinds of situations.
Devotions to St. Gerard Majella is a big part of the Redemptorist apostolate. Redemptorists in Nigeria are at the forefront of spreading this devotion to the Mothers’ Saint. This comes as a timely response to the Nigerian church where the search for ‘the fruit of the womb’ accounts for many Catholics leaving the church. The devotion to St. Gerard has spread to 16 dioceses in Nigeria. The St. Gerard missions draw-in many Catholics in the different parishes where these missions are preached. The missioners also spread devotion to St. Gerard under the title of ‘The League of St. Gerard’ with a growing number of devotees numbering about 5,000.