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As Catholics, we pray for the intercession of the saints and angels in Heaven, so that they may pray for us on our behalf. Saints can be venerated as the Heavenly advocate and special intercessor for many patronages, but could there be a patron saint of handguns?

Saint Gabriel Possenti was an Italian Passionist whose feast day is celebrated on February 27th. He was canonized as the patron saint of Catholic youth, students, and of those studying for the priesthood by Pope Benedict XV in 1920.

Why could Possenti be the patron of handguns? While studying at the monastery nearby Isola del Gran Sasso in Southern Italy at the young age of 22, he was able save a woman about to be raped by a gang of bandits who intended ransack the city with his accurate shot, harming no one in the process.

Painting depicting the bravery of Saint Gabriel Possenti at 22 defending his city from bandits.

Read Possenti’s heroic tale:

“Gabriel’s marksmanship and proficiency with handguns allegedly saved the village of Isola del Gran Sasso from a band of 20 Garibaldi Red Shirts in 1860. In 1860, Garibaldi’s soldiers entered the mountain village of Isola, Italy. They began to burn and pillage the town, terrorizing its inhabitants. Possenti, with his seminary rector’s permission, walked into the center of town, unarmed, to face the terrorists. One of the soldiers was dragging off a young woman he intended to rape when he saw Possenti and made a snickering remark about such a young monk being all alone. Possenti quickly grabbed the soldier’s revolver from his belt and ordered the marauder to release the woman. The startled soldier complied, as Possenti grabbed the revolver of another soldier who came by. Hearing the commotion, the rest of the soldiers came running in Possenti’s direction, determined to overcome the rebellious monk.

At that moment 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. Having seen his handiwork with a pistol, the soldiers complied. Possenti ordered them to put out the fires they had set, and upon finishing, 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.'”

Possenti would die just a year later, his studies cut sadly short from tuberculosis. Today, the Saint Gabriel Possenti Society, a lay organization, lobbys the Vatican to have Possenti designated the “patron saint of hand gunners.”

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