Today’s Saint

Daily Journey with the Saints

February 27 | Sorrow

Saint Gabriel Possenti

A.D. 1838–1862

Nobody’s life turns out the way they expect it to. We all end up living unexpected lives.

In order to embrace the unexpected life, we need to mourn the life that could have been. Perhaps a dream didn’t come true. Perhaps someone you loved died. Whatever the cause, the life you hoped and expected to live is gone now, and all that is left is the unexpected life. 

Saint Gabriel Possenti, also known as Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, is a man who whose unexpected life was filled with sorrow—so much so that he changed his name to include the word “sorrow” in it. 

He was born Francesco Possenti, and grew up in a well-to-do family. But tragedy soon visited the young man: the early deaths of his mother and several siblings plunged Francesco into periods of deep depression.

Francesco’s turning point came following a procession in honor of the icon of Our Lady of Sorrows. As he gazed upon the image of Mary, expressing her sorrow at the suffering and death of Jesus, Francesco felt a profound identification with her pain. He soon joined the Passionist Order, a community devoted to the memory of Jesus’ suffering, and took the name Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows.

Saint Gabriel Possenti knew he couldn’t just ignore that he had been hurt. He had to acknowledge the pain and suffering in his life in order to move forward and discover the amazing new adventures God was calling him to.

When horrible things happen to us, we want to believe that there is a proper way to deal with the experience, to process it, to heal from it. Maybe there is and maybe there isn’t. One thing is for sure and that is this: It is messy.

Mourn the life that could have been if your dream had come true, if your baby hadn’t died, if you had not been betrayed, if your spouse had not divorced you, if you hadn’t made such a devastating mistake, if you hadn’t gotten sick. Mourn that life. It is a prerequisite for discovering the exquisite possibilities that still lay ahead.


I give myself permission to mourn the life that could have been.

This reflection is brought to you from book title.

Also Known As: Catholic Students, Youth, and Seminarians

Also Known As: Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

Feast Day: February 27

Feast Day Shared By: Saint Gregory of Narek

Canonized: May 13, 1920

Canonized By: Pope Benedict XV

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