“The St. Gabriel Possenti Society St. Gabriel Possenti Society commends Ohio Judge Joseph J. Bruzzese, Jr. for carrying a loaded handgun and using it successfully yesterday to defend himself from an armed attacker bent on murdering him,” Society chairman John M. Snyder said here today.
“St. Gabriel Possenti used loaded handguns in Isola, Italy to defend villagers from ransacking renegades with a one-shot, lizard-slaying demonstration of effective marksmanship,” Snyder related. “He rescued a potential rape victim and the whole town from about 20 terrorists. The Society seeks his official Vatican recognition as Patron Saint of Handgunners.”
“Judge Bruzzese’s action is a contemporary reflection of Possenti’s 1860 act of heroism,” said Snyder. “Judge Bruzzese reportedly has a permit to carry a concealed firearm. A culprit shot and wounded him near the Jefferson County courthouse. The Steubenville judge, who sits on the Court of Common Pleas, fired five shots back at the culprit. A nearby probation officer then shot and killed the perp. The judge is in good condition.”
“The Possenti and Bruzzese incidents demonstrate clearly that people NEED handguns in order to defend life and the very right to life when threatened. Hopefully, recalcitrant clergy and others will see reality for what it is and get with it.”
Snyder recalled that, “the international St. Gabriel Possenti Society commemorated the February 27 feast day of St. Gabriel Possenti. The interdenominational Society celebrates its 29th anniversary this year.”
St. Gabriel Possenti freed a young woman from would-be rapists by taking the rapists’ revolvers. He then confronted the onrushing brigands, pointing the revolvers at them. Possenti fired at a lizard that happened to be running across the road. He killed it with one shot.
Having demonstrated his excellent handgun marksmanship, St. Gabriel Possenti took command of the situation and ran the now-frightened brigands out of town.St. Gabriel Possenti performed this feat of courage without causing physical harm to a single human being.
Snyder recalled that some dispute the historicity of the shooting and rescue incident. He stated that, “in response to lizard incident challenges, let me point out that the late Rev. Godfrey Poage, C.P., who wrote about the incident was a Passionist, the same religious order as St. Gabriel Possenti.”
Snyder further noted that, “Fr. Poage was the author of ‘Son of the Passion, The Story of Gabriel Francis Possenti.’ It was published in 1962 by the Bruce Publishing Company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and republished in 1977 by the Daughters of St. Paul. The book carried the nihil obstat of Frederick Sucher, C.P., S.T.D., Censor for the Congregation of the Passion, the imprimi potest of Walter Kaelin, C.P, Provincial of the Holy Cross Province (of the Passionists), dated February 27, 1962, the nihil obstat of John F. Murphy, S.T.D., Censor librorum, and the imprimatur of Most Reverend William E. Cousins, Archbishop of Milwaukee, dated April 13, 1962. The account of the lizard incident, Chapter 7, ‘The Savior of Isola,’ is one of the book’s eight chapters. In the book’s introduction, Fr. Poage explained that, ‘nothing was said that had not been quoted by eyewitnesses, at least in the third person.'”
“When challenged regarding the accuracy of his report of the lizard incident, Fr. Poage stood by its historicity,” Snyder stated. “Father Poage said that challenges to the accuracy of his writing came from people who didn’t have any evidence to the contrary. Father Poage said this to Mark Pattison of the Catholic News Service on February 10, 1992. The CNS report appeared in The Catholic Sun of Phoenix, Arizona on February 20, 1992. Pattison reported that, ‘Fr. Poage said the episode was witnessed by a ‘lay helper’ at the monastery. The documentation was uncovered during his research in Italy in 1947-48.’
“Fr. Poage, who had been a peritus at the Second Vatican Council, died June 25, 2001. The Passionist Family Circle Newsletter, in its Fall/Winter 2001 issue, stated that he was ‘a man of extraordinary talents and great kindness’ and ‘a trusted servant of God.'”
Snyder stated that, “The Poage account of the lizard incident remained non-controversial for over a quarter of a century. To the best of my knowledge, it was not disputed or questioned. It was not until I began promoting St. Gabriel Possenti as a Patron of Handgunners in the late 1980s that there began a belated attempt to attack the account of the lizard incident.
“It appears there is such bigotry in some quarters against the very idea of a Catholic saint using force and handguns to defeat evil that there is a preference for anti-gun political correctness over historical accuracy.”
Snyder — who sits on the advisory board of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, is the author of Gun Saint, a book about St. Gabriel Possenti and the St. Gabriel Possenti Society, Inc., published by Telum Associates, LL.C.