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STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- The daughter of an Italian saint who risked and lost her life as she struggled with a dangerous pregnancy 48 years ago visited the Staten Island-based Priests for Life today as living proof of her mother’s selflessness.
Pregnant with her fourth child, Gianna Molla had to make a life-defining decision when a tumor was discovered in her uterus. She could undergo a hysterectomy and lose the child, or have the tumor removed and put her own life at great risk.
She chose the latter. One week after the birth, she died from complications.
Her daughter Gianna Emanuela Molla was born healthy and has lived a very fulfilling life. She became a doctor herself, practicing for many years as a geriatrician before retiring to dedicate herself to caring for her father, which she did for the last seven years of his life.
Dr. Molla, who lives near Milan, visited the offices of Priests for Life in New Dorp today, where a tribute to her mother was enshrined. A framed picture of St. Gianna holding her second-oldest daughter, Mariolina, was hung in the building’s lobby along with a piece of cloth the saint wore.
After enjoying a brief tour of the facility, Dr. Molla spoke in front of some 30 guests gathered in a small chapel on the second floor of the building.
Even in her second language of English, she captivated the crowd as she told of her mother’s life and sacrifice.
"I would not be here with you if I had not been loved so much," she said.
She also praised the organization for its pro-life mission, adding, "I bring my mother with me to help you, too."
Due to her limited proficiency in English, Dr. Molla was worried that she would not be able to honor her mother properly. The standing ovation at the conclusion of her speech proved otherwise.
A mass celebrated by the Rev. Frank. A. Pavone followed. Father Pavone described St. Gianna’s life-ending sacrifice as a culmination of a lifetime of virtuosity. He described her as someone who, throughout her life, said " ‘Yes’ to life and love, and ‘No’ to things that destroy it."
At the conclusion of the mass, there was a procession, with song, from the chapel to the lobby, where the tribute was permanently placed.
Dr. Molla, who arrived in New York from Rome on Sunday, will speak at events in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California, Nebraska, and Kansas City, Mo., before returning home.
For all of this, she thanks her mother. "Nothing is possible without the gift of life," she said.