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  • Writer's pictureSarah Hauer

Abundant life and the friendship of St. Gerard Majella

"I have come so they may have life and have it more abundantly" says Jesus in John 10:10. It is the desire of every human heart, to live an abundant life. For one to orientate their life to the good, to the image of Christ, is the goal of every Christian. Couples facing infertility or child loss can find this scripture difficult, as abundance is often understood to mean fruitfulness in the form of many children. It can become a challenge to see how we can live an abundant life when we carry a cross that tugs at the heart; the splinters touch upon what we thought abundance would be. In staying obedient to the will of God through our infertility journey, we come to learn what an abundant life is.

St Gerard, a patron of infertility

One saint that understood suffering and obedience to the will of God was St. Gerard Majella. Through his ministry, he bore an abundance of fruit and lived a life of grace that impacted many and still does today. When struggling with infertility, couples are often asked, “Have you heard of St. Gerard? Have you asked him to intercede?” He is the patron saint of childbirth, children, pregnant women, good confessions, the falsely accused, lay brothers, the unborn and the pro-life movement. Because of his gifts of healing and dedication to pregnant women, many hopeful couples experiencing infertility ask his intercession.St. Gerard was born into poverty and lost his father at only 12 years old. He grew in ability to work several trades, working to help his mother and in offerings for poor souls. He was turned down twice as a young man by a Capuchin monastery and it was thought that his health would not be good enough to serve in religious life. Eventually he was able to become a lay brother of the Redemptorists and took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. He was a mystic, able to bilocate, and was known for profound miracles. What strikes me most when learning more about him is his ardent faith, hope and obedience: all virtues that those with infertility are challenged to grow in.

St. Gerard, a friend in heaven

My husband and I have experienced infertility for over 20 years. We have been blessed in our marriage with the miracle of one child who is now a teenager. I was inspired to learn more about St. Gerard and share with others the virtues he can offer couples primarily because St. Gerard will not let go of me. I think sometimes certain saints will look after us on our journey home to Christ, and St. Gerard has asked for my attention and shown his great care on more than one occasion. The Catechism states “So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped” (CCC 956) - this is all so we may become closer to the image of Christ. I have quite literally stumbled upon St. Gerard on the following occasions: 1. When we moved into a home and a prayer card of St. Gerard was face up on the front lawn the day we moved in.

2. When I went to a Catholic conference for sacred art, in a quiet humble corner far out of the way, I was drawn into an unexpected and beautiful statue of St. Gerard.

3. At this same conference, I was confronted with a relic of St. Gerard, again while not anticipating or looking for it.

4. Lastly, at a Marian Conference in 2023 I was drawn to some small saint bracelets. One of Our Lady of Perpetual Help stood out over all the others, but as I turned the medallion, on the back was St. Gerard of Majella. At this point, I got the hint. He was looking out for me and interceding, so I needed to learn more. I don’t always know what the outcome of asking intercession is, but it gives me strength to stay obedient to Christ.


St. Gerard was known for his faith. “Faith is my life,” he wrote, and “life for me is faith” (Saint-Omer, 43.) Sometimes when battling secondary infertility for this long, it is very difficult to still have the faith to pray at all for new life. It is in these encounters with St. Gerard that I am reminded to stay faithful and open to even pray for what seems impossible. I am learning that God’s will is most important, even if the answer is “no” or the timing is not what we would have picked.


This message of faith leads in turn to the virtue of supernatural hope, which St. Gerard was also known for. He was confident that he would become a saint and that religious life would aid him in this. He had been turned away from religious life not once, but twice, with numerous difficulties raised by superiors to prevent him from entering, but he did not lose hope. He held on to continued prayer and total reliance on his hope in Christ.


Lastly, we grow in these virtues and abundant life through obedience. St. Gerard is called “the saint of obedience” and he was heard to say, “I will but one thing: Thy will of God and not mine!” (Saint-Omer 102). In a world that tells us “everything is relative”, “find your truth”, “we can do and be anything”, we come to radical obedience to Christ through the saints. In the world of infertility, so much is possible but not prudent, and those of us living out a life faithful to the teachings of the Church are offered temptations by the secular medical community at every turn. We could take human life into our own hands through artificial technologies, and some of us would be rewarded with children in IVF and other forms of ART. It would seem that this would give us “abundant life” but it would be rendering our wills, not God’s. It would be jeopardizing the good of our souls, marriages, and the souls of unborn children to follow these technologies. Instead, I propose that saints like St. Gerard with radical obedience in their religious lives, with great faith and hope, can be models and intercessors to show heroic virtue in our own journeys of the cross. I propose that through this obedience - through us only embracing Church-approved medical care and allowing God’s will to take place - we are in fact gaining an abundant life. We will never know what great graces our marriages are achieving and bringing to the world, by not having children if that is what God’s will is. It looks backwards through worldly eyes, but on the journey to heaven we are sacrificing and embracing life.

I am still praying for continued healing in my own life, marriage and infertility. We are still praying for a miracle. But if that miracle doesn’t come, it will one day come in the form of sanctity if we keep our eyes on Christ and heaven.

Prayer of St. Gerard Majella for motherhood

O glorious Saint Gerard, powerful intercessor before God and wonder worker of our day, I call upon you and seek your help. You who always fulfilled God's will on earth, help me to do God's holy will. Intercede with the Giver of life, from whom all parenthood proceeds, that I may conceive and raise children who will please God in this life and be heirs to the kingdom of heaven. Amen.

(Saint-Omer C.SS.R, Father Edward. St. Gerard Majella. Mission Church Press, 1907.)

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