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Gun Saint Group Commends Handgunner for Saving Police Officer

“The St. Gabriel Possenti Society commends a Florida civilian for using his handgun recently to save the life of a deputy sheriff,” Society chairman John M. Snyder noted here.

The patron of the St. Gabriel Possenti Society, Inc. (gunsaint.com), St. Gabriel Possenti, used handguns in 1860 to save villagers in Isola del Gran Sasso, Italy from a gang of marauders.

“The action of the Florida handgunner mirrors the action of St. Gabriel Possenti,” Snyder said. “Both actions show that handguns can be and are used to save lives. According to scholarly estimates, there are millions of defensive gun uses in the United States each year.”

In the Estero, Florida case, as reported by Fox News and other media, Lee County Deputy Sheriff Dean Bardes on November 14, 2016 tried to make a traffic stop. The motorist did not comply. Instead, he took off, then stopped, got out of the car, pulled Bardes out of his car and began beating Bardes. According to a witness, the culprit beat Bardes repeatedly, “beating him and beating him, throwing him to the ground and punching him in all different directions.”

At that point, another driver, Ashad Russell, got out of his car and ran to the scene. He told the suspect that he would shoot him if he did not stop beating Deputy Bardes.

The suspect refused to get off of the Deputy and Bardes kept yelling, “Shoot him, shoot him, shoot him.”

When the suspect did not stop the attack, armed citizen Russell, who has a Florida permit to carry a concealed firearm (CCW), shot the suspect three times. Bardes was not hit. The suspect later died.

Snyder commended Russell for “his bravery, precision, and protection of life.”

He stated that, “The international St. Gabriel Possenti Society notes the February 27 feast day of St. Gabriel Possenti, a Catholic saint who used handguns to save the innocent from the wicked. This year is the 29th anniversary of the founding of the interdenominational St. Gabriel Possenti Society, Inc.”

“The life of St. Gabriel Possenti shows that a holy person can use firearms to promote peace and justice,” Snyder commented. “Firearms possession and sanctity are compatible. Sometimes people need guns to defend life, truth and freedom. St. Gabriel Possenti, pray for us.”

In 1860, St. Gabriel Possenti rescued the villagers of Isola del Gran Sasso, Italy from a marauding gang of about 20 renegade soldiers with an outstanding display of handgun marksmanship.

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.

St. Gabriel Possenti died in 1862. He was known for his devotion to Christ and His Blessed Mother. Pope Benedict XV canonized him in 1920.

Snyder noted 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 re the accuracy of his report of the lizard incident, Rev. 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.”

The St. Gabriel Possenti Society seeks official Vatican recognition of St. Gabriel Possenti as Patron of Handgunners. In a December 18, 2015 posting of its “Does Catholic Faith Dictate a Position on Gun Control?’ article, the National Catholic Register referred to St. Gabriel Possenti as “the patron saint of handgunners.”

Snyder 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.


© 2017 St. Gabriel Possenti Society, Inc., P.O. Box 183, Cabin John, MD 20818