St. Gianna Beretta Molla

Feast date: Apr 28

Gianna Beretta Molla was born on October 4, 1922 in Magenta, Italy. She was the tenth of 13 children in her family. She grew up in a devout Catholic home and quickly learned the value of prayer. As a young adult, she joined the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul.

Gianna began to study medicine during World War II. In 1950 she opened her own medical office in Mesero, which was near her hometown. A couple years later she began to specialize in pediatrics and was drawn towards mothers, babies, the elderly, and the poor.

In 1954 Gianna met Pietro Molla, an engineer who worked in her office. In September of 1955 the two became husband and wife. Between 1956 and 1959 the couple had three children, Pierluigi, Maria Zita and Laura.

Gianna embraced the vocation of being a wife and mother with all her being and completely dedicated herself to “forming a truly Christian family.”

In 1961, Gianna became pregnant with their fourth child. It was during this pregnancy that doctors discovered that Gianna had developed a uterine tumor.

The doctors gave her three choices: an abortion, which would save her life and allow her to have more children but take the life of her baby; a complete hysterectomy, which would save her life but prevent her from having more children and take her baby’s life; or removal of the fibroma only, which posed the risk of future complications but could save the life of her baby.

Gianna chose to have only the tumor removed. She was willing to lose her life for the sake of her baby’s. She knew that she may not make it through delivery, but she made it very clear that if a choice needed to be made between saving her own life or the child’s, the child needed to be saved.

Throughout her pregnancy, Gianna found strength in the Lord and asked him to take any pain away from the child.

On April 21, 1962 Gianna Emmanuel Molla was successfully delivered by Cesarean section. However, after complications arose with the tumor, Gianna passed away 7 days later on April 28.

Gianna was beatified by Saint Pope John Paul II on April 24, 1994 and canonized as a saint on May 16, 2004. Her husband and children attended her canonization.

During her canonization, Saint Pope John Paul II said, “Shortly before her wedding, in a letter to her future husband, she wrote: “Love is the most beautiful sentiment that the Lord has placed in the spirit of men.”

“Following the example of Christ, who ‘having loved his own … he loved them to the end’ (John 13:1) this holy mother of a family was heroically faithful to the commitment she took on the day of her marriage. The supreme sacrifice that sealed her life testifies that only the one who has the courage to give himself totally to God and to neighbor finds fulfillment,” he added.

The pope described her as, “a simple, but more than ever, significant messenger of divine love.”

St. Gianna Beretta Molla is the patron saint of mothers, physicians, and unborn children.