July 4, 2008

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

St. Gabriel Possenti is known as ‘the gun saint’

Shirley Vogler MeisterMore and more, not a week—sometimes not even a day—goes by without guns being in the news!

“War” no longer only applies to “other places.” The war against crime is fought at home, too, and the illegal use of guns is playing havoc with lives and families in ways that I could not have imagined in former years.

Even most children today know about the ongoing and nearly daily murders in the U.S. and our wonderful Hoosier state, and families and teachers are now forewarning and educating children about the dangers lurking within our society.

I know families who have guns in their homes, but they keep their guns under lock and key so accidents cannot happen.

Some use them for hunting or at target ranges, and others keep them for times when protection is possibly needed.

Many inherit vintage guns, and others actively collect them. I do not know anyone whose motives are anything but right and good when it comes to guns.

Recently, I serendipitously discovered the St. Gabriel Possenti Society. Yes, there is a patron saint of guns, who was canonized in 1920.

According to www.possentisociety.com, Gabriel is considered “The Savior of Isola.” This is because in 1860 a band of soldiers from the army of Garibaldi began burning and pillaging Isola, Italy, terrorizing its inhabitants.

One of the soldiers dragged a young woman away with the intention of raping her. With his rector’s permission, Possenti, then a seminarian, was on the scene to try to dissipate the situation if he could.

After the “soldier made a snickering remark about such a young monk being alone, Possenti quickly grabbed the villain’s revolver from his belt and ordered the marauder to release the woman. The startled soldier complied. Possenti grabbed the revolver of another soldier … [and] the rest of the soldiers came running in Possenti’s direction, determined to overcome the rebellious monk … .”

Immediately, “a small lizard ran across the road between Possenti and the soldiers. When the lizard briefly paused, Possenti took careful aim and struck the lizard with one shot. Turning his two handguns on the approaching soldiers, Possenti commanded them to drop their weapons, and the soldiers complied.”

The monk made them put out the fires they had set then “marched the whole lot out of town, ordering them never to return. The grateful townspeople escorted Possenti in triumphant procession back to the seminary, thereafter referring to him as ‘the Savior of Isola.’ ”

Readers who want more information can log on to www.possentisociety.com or write to the Possenti Society at P.O. Box 2844, Arlington, VA 22202.

I applaud responsible gun owners, but plead with those who own guns illegally to take the proper steps to keep gun ownership legal and safe.

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.) †

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