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) as the 10th of Alberto and Maria Beretta’s 13 children. An active member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, Gianna earned degrees in medicine and surgery from the University of Pavia and eventually opened a clinic in Mesero. Gianna also enjoyed skiing and mountain climbing.
Shortly before her 1955 marriage to Pietro Molla, Gianna wrote to him: “Love is the most beautiful sentiment that the Lord has put into the soul of men and women.” She and Pietro had three children, Pierluigi, Maria Zita, and Laura.
Early in the pregnancy for her fourth child, 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, Gianna Emanuela Molla was born. The following week, her mother Gianna died in Monza of complications from childbirth. She is buried in Mesero.
Gianna Emanuela went on to become a physician herself. Gianna Beretta Molla was beatified in 1994 and canonized 10 years later.
Comment: 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.
Quote: In his homily at the canonization Mass, Pope John Paul II said: “Gianna Beretta Molla was a simple, but more than ever, significant messenger of divine love…Following the example of Christ, who ‘having loved his own…loved them to the end’ [John 13:1], this holy mother of a family remained heroically faithful to the commitment she made on the day of her marriage. The extreme sacrifice she sealed with her life testifies that only those who have the courage to give of themselves totally to God and to others are able to fulfill themselves.”