Book telling the fascinating tale of St Gerard Majella
HE is Dundalk's favourite saint, beatified by the church, and adopted by the town where a national shrine was set up in his honour.
St Gerard Majella has been prayed to, pleaded with, thanked and honoured by around 100,000 Dundalk people every year since the annual novena in his name began in the 1930s.
It came as no suprise then to see a new book 'Saint Gerard Majella - Rediscovering a Saint' launched at the Redemptorist church which is now almost synonomous with his name.
With work already under way again for the novena from October 8th to 16th, author Fr. Brendan Convery took time out last week to unveil his latest work which for many people in Dundalk will explain for the first time the real story behind the man who they honour year after year.
'Gerard Majella's name is familiar to many Catholics, and very familiar to the people of Dundalk,' said Fr. Brendan.
'Many have relied on the novena, and his prayers at difficult times, especially while trying to conceive a baby, to bring it to full term, and when faced with the great life giving mysteries of labour and birth. Many carry his name throughout their lives.'
'But sometimes those who pray through Gerard's intercession know relatively little about him,' added Fr. Brendan.
The book he says 'gets behind the man and the myth to offer a modern take on a saint for mothers, fathers and the rest of us.'
The St. Gerard who hundreds of thousands of Dundalk people have prayed to over the last few generations was in fact an Italian native.
Born and raised in a poor family in the south of Italy almost 300 years ago, he never travelled more than 50 miles from his hometown, and wasn't a famous theologian, writer or preacher. Indeed he died from illness before he reached 30 years old.
'But his outstanding humility and love of people made this Redemptorist brother a saint by name, but also very much a saint for modern times too,' said Fr. Brendan.
Launching the bock in St Gerard's Hall, Fr. Micheal Cusack, Rector at the Redemptorist church said 'St Gerard Majella is held with the greatest of devotion by the people of Dundalk and surrounding areas in Louth, Down, Armagh, Monaghan and Meath.'
'The annual St Gerard's novena is very much the lifeblood of the parish here, and we work very hard every year to provide a novena that is most importantly inspired by the life of St Gerard.'
He explained that the national shrine which is located at St Joseph's church is worshiped at by thousands of people every year, and especially during the novena time.
The book 'Saint Gerard Majella - Rediscovering a Saint' is on sale now at the reception of the Redemptorist monastery.