St. Gerard was born to an Italian family in Naples during the 18th
century. When his father died at a young age, his family was forced to
live in poverty. He was sent away to learn skills from a tailor, but was
abused while he was there. Despite his troubled upbringing, he was
deeply religious from an early age, and he wanted to be like Jesus
Christ. St. Gerard entered religious life as a lay brother and served as
counselor to communities of religious women.
St. Gerard is considered the patron saint of pregnant women, unborn
children and falsely accused individuals. This is because he was once
falsely accused of fathering the child of a pregnant woman, and he did
not deny the fact. Only much later was he cleared from this crime. He is
often depicted in artwork carrying a small wooden cross, which reflects
his deep desire to be more like Jesus.