St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrow was born as Francesco Possenti in 1838. It seems he was rather popular as a child and young man, taking great pains to always look his best. He was known as “the dancer” and had several “romantic entanglements.”
At age 13 he became very sick and vowed to become a priest if he became better. He got better, but didn’t change his life. Two years later the same thing happened. A little while later his sister (who had raised him after their mother died when he was just four years old) died during a cholera epidemic.
After this, Gabriel/Francesco began to think more seriously, and determined to begin his priestly studies as soon as possible. His father and many other relatives attempted to change his mind, but at age 18 he entered the novitiate of the Passionists.
For the next few years he lived as a clerical student, working, writing, and studying to become a priest. During this time, Gabriel developed tuberculosis, and died quietly, even joyfully, a few days before his 24th birthday.
His devotion proved inspirational, especially considering his youth and the other opportunities he had. As a result, Gabriel was canonized in 1920 as the patron saint of the youth, students, and particularly those studying to become a priest.
How can a young man keep his way pure?
By living according to your word.
I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
Psalm 119: 9 & 10