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In less than 40 years, Gianna Beretta Molla became a pediatric physician, a wife, a mother and a saint!
She was born in Magenta near Milano, the tenth of Alberto and Maria Beretta’s 13 children. An active member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society and a leader in the Catholic Action movement, Gianna also enjoyed skiing and mountain climbing. She earned degrees in medicine and surgery from the University of Pavia, eventually specializing in pediatrics. In 1952, Gianna opened a clinic in the small town of Mesero, where she met engineer Pietro Molla.
Shortly before their 1955 marriage, Gianna wrote to Pietro: “Love is the most beautiful sentiment that the Lord has put into the soul of men and women.” In the next four years the Mollas had three children: Pierluigi, Mariolina, and Laura. Two pregnancies following ended in miscarriage.
Early in her fourth pregnancy, doctors discovered that Gianna had both a child and a tumor in her uterus. She allowed the surgeons to remove the tumor but not to perform the complete hysterectomy that they recommended, which would have killed the child. Seven months later in April 1962, Gianna Emanuela Molla was born at the hospital in Monza, but post-operative complications resulted in an infection for her mother. The following week Gianna Molla died at home, and was buried in the cemetery of Mesero.
Gianna Emanuela went on to become a physician herself. Gianna Beretta Molla was beatified in 1994 and canonized 10 years later. Her liturgical feast is celebrated on April 28.
With great faith and courage, Gianna Molla made the choice that enabled her daughter to be born. We can often wish that we were in different circumstances, but holiness frequently comes from making difficult choices in bad situations.