Although Mayann is Goldenbird's official leading lady, there is a certain gentleman who steals a lot of the attention. As a character, Falco Peregrini is not easy to write, since he is shaped by several experiences that must remain alien to me: early loss of parents, the minor seminary, military service at the Alpine front, prisoner of war in Austria, missionary work in Japan etc. Although he isn't based on any real-life person in the 1920's, I constantly discover real stories and ideas that support my work and teach me important lessons. One of these stories is the life of St Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, which I encountered today while searching for images of Pope Benedict XV (the things we do for procrastination...).
Francisco Possenti (1838-1862) was born in Assisi and grew up in Spoleto. As a young man, he was well-liked, fond of dancing, girls and hunting - but several tragic incidents in his family and a serious illness led him to religious life. He was educated by Jesuits and finally joined the Passionists. His monastic name was Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows. Having contracted tuberculosis, he continued on his spiritual path well aware of his imminent death. On February 27th, 1862, Gabriel passed away, only 24 years old. (Why must all the people featured on this blog die tragically?...) Several miraculous healings were attributed to him, and he was canonized in 1920 by Benedict XV, who promoted the young saint as an example for the modern youth. Gabriel was devoted to the Virgin Mary, as seen on the portrait. It is told that he died holding an image of her.
"Aveva occhi tondi, neri, assai vivaci e belli: sembravano due stelle."
This is the kind of role model that Falco has grown up with, although I suppose even his kindest superiors know that he himself is no saint material! St Gabriel's 41 resolutions are interesting reading if you want to compare Falco's strengths and weaknesses to the saintly ideal. It is evident that some resolutions are easier to keep than others...
Curiously, there is a society in the United States that tries to promote St Gabriel as a patron saint of handgunners. It seems that the reasons for this connection are pure legend. (Falco, with his affection for the Beretta 1915, would probably find it amusing, although disturbing - he is adamantly pro-life, after all.)