Saint Gianna's Life: A Celebration of Motherhood

Joseph Cunningham
Knight of the Immaculata
January 01, 2010

In a companion column, I reported on Saint Gianna Beretta Molla, a surgeon/pediatrician, who died in 1962 at the age of 39 after giving birth to her fourth child, Gianna Emanuela. Saint Gianna had been advised to undergo an abortion because of a large ovarian cyst. Because she refused the abortion, Saint Gianna developed a very painful septic peritonitis and died on April 28, 1962.

Pope Paul VI described Saint Gianna as "a mother who, in order to give life to her baby, sacrificed her own life in deliberate immolation."

Recently, I called Pietro Molla, the husband of this saint in Italy, who told me how joyful, loving, and caring his wife, Saint Gianna was. In the seven years he lived with her, he never realized that he had been living with a saint! Saints were always considered to be individuals with mystical graces or visions. Saint Gianna, on the other hand, was an individual without visions but who strove to live God's will in her normal, everyday life. In the book he co-authored, Primo Piano: Gianna ("Gianna: Up Close"), Mr. Molla quotes his wife as relating that "one cannot love without suffering or suffer without love." She further stated, "Look at the mothers who truly love their children, how many sacrifices they make! They are ready for everything, even to give their own life." Mr. Molla reported that Saint Gianna repeated constantly that her children were her delight, her pride, and her treasure.

When the children were young, Pietro Molla told them that they could pray to their mother for help. When she was beatified in 1994 by Pope John Paul II, the Church ratified Mr. Molla's trust. If Saint Gianna had lived, she would be presently 75 years old.

The Pope praised Saint Gianna as a happy spouse and mother who offered her life in sacrifice for the child in her womb. His Holiness said that since she had been a surgeon, she was well aware of what she was confronting but she did not avoid the sacrifice, confirming in such a manner the heroicity of her virtue.

Saint Gianna was beatified in the Year of the Family, and proposed as a model for all mothers. Mr. Molla has written that many mothers turn to the intercession of Saint Gianna because she had to confront the same problems as they and thus is able to understand and help them. Even the miraculous recovery of Lucia Silva Cirilo of Brazil from a grave infection after a caesarian section has been attributed to the intercession of Saint Gianna. Many people credit Saint Gianna with cures, tranquility of their spirit, or peace in their families.

The Society of Saint Gianna Beretta Molla is promoting this pro-life saint as a model for mothers, spouses, and professionals. Her husband has sent us personal photos, letters, and a relic--a two-inch piece of a dress worn by Saint Gianna. A publishing company is manufacturing holy cards of Saint Gianna for distribution. Father Frank Pavone of "Priests for Life" has posted our article on his Internet website. We commemorated the Feast day of Saint Gianna on April 28 with prayers and benediction.

A bishop was kidding Mr. Molla once, telling him that his was a unique case. When a man and woman get married they become a new individual person for which Mr. Molla was already halfway in Paradise, and halfway with us.

Saint Gianna Beretta Molla, Wonderful Woman, Lover of Life, Spouse, Mother, Physician, Exemplary Professional, who offered her life in order not to violate the Mystery of the Dignity of Human Life. Pray for Us!

If you desire further information or a free holy card, please write or call the following: "Saint Gianna", P.O. BOX 2946, Warminster, PA 18974.


Promoting Holiness in the Family and the Sanctity of Human Life

P.O. Box 2946

Warminster, PA 18974

Joseph W. Cunningham

Knight of the Immaculata


"A True Chant for Life"

Discourse of Pope John Paul II during the audience to the pilgrims

Source: Una Santa della Quotidianita (Beatification Book) April 25, 1995 [Saint Gianna was canonized on May 19, 2004]

Rome, Paul VI auditorium

I greet today the pilgrims who came to honor the two new Blessed: Gianna Beretta Molla and Elizabeth Canori Mora. In particular I greet the husband and children of Gianna Beretta Molla, together with the other family members.... (Blessed Gianna) had the grace of a united family, rich in faith and love. She was a happy mother, but a great trial touched her in the course of her fourth pregnancy. In the dramatic choice between saving her life and that of the creature which she carried in her womb, she did not hesitate to sacrifice herself. What a heroic witness is her true chant for life, in violent contrast with a certain mentality pervasive today! May her sacrifice infuse courage in as many as participate by means of the personal and community engagement, in the Movement for Life and in other similar organizations in order that the intangible dignity of every human existence be recognized, from the moment of conception up to natural decline as a primary and fundamental value in respect to every other human and social right.


Jesus, I promised You to submit myself to all that You permit to befall me, make me only know Your will. My most sweet Jesus, infinitely merciful God, most tender Father of souls, and in a particular way of the most weak, most miserable, most infirm which You carry with special tenderness between Your divine arms, I come to You to ask You, through the love and merits of Your Sacred Heart, the grace to comprehend and to do always Your holy will, the grace to confide in You, the grace to rest securely through time and eternity in Your loving divine arms."

SOURCE: Una Santa Della Quotidianita

Priests for Life
PO Box 236695 • Cocoa, FL 32923
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