Blessed Beretta Molla

May 10, 1998
Brother John Raymond

A mother's love is so important in family life. One mother, Blessed Gianna Beretta Molla, exemplified just how far a mother's love for her children can go.

Gianna was born in Magenta (Milan), Italy in 1922. She was one of 13 children. During her years of secondary and university education Gianna worked among the elderly and needy as a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. She went on to earn degrees in medicine and surgery from the University of Pavia in 1949. Then she opened a medical clinic in Mesero (near Magenta) in 1950. In 1952 she specialized in pediatrics at the University of Milan.

Gianna considered her medical work her "mission." Also, she gave some time to a group called Catholic Action where she helped children and enjoyed skiing and mountaineering. In 1955 Gianna married Pietro Molla. Soon she gave birth to Pierluigi; then Mariolina and then Laura.

In September 1961, towards the end of the second month of pregnancy, Gianna had to make a heroic decision. Physicians diagnosed a large ovarian cyst that required surgery. The surgeon suggested that Gianna undergo an abortion in order to save her own life. Gianna was firm in insisting that the doctors do to her whatever they like provided they save her child. She underwent the surgery. Some months later, on Good Friday, Gianna was admitted to Monza Maternity Hospital. The medical examination revealed a large, healthy baby and a life-threatening septic peritonitis. Her daughter, Gianna Emanuela, was born the next day, Holy Saturday. Gianna had acute abdominal pain. She refused pain medication because she did not feel it was just to appear before the Lord without much suffering. Seven days later she died while repeatedly exclaming, "Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I love you." It was April 28, 1962. She was 39 years old. Her body lies in the cemetary of Mesero (4 km. from Magenta).

On April 24, 1994, Pope John Paul II beatified Gianna Beretta Molla at St. Peter's Square in Rome.

Prayer: Blessed Gianna, this Mother's Day please intercede in a special way for my mother. Help her to live her maternal vocation and to always remain close to God . We ask this through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

For a Holy Card of Blessed Gianna, write to: "Blessed Gianna", P.O. Box 59557, Philadelphia, PA 19102-9557.

Some words from and about Blessed Gianna:

In her letters to Catholic Action members she told them to "be living witnesses of the greatness and beauty of Christianity." She exhorted them not to be afraid to defend God, the Church, the Pope and his priests. She extolled the virtues of Saint Maria Goretti.

On abortion she said, "The doctor should not meddle. The right of the child to live is equal to the right of the mother's life. The doctor cannot decide; it is a sin to kill in the womb."

Gianna's maxim was as follows: "I have always been taught that the secret of happiness is living moment by moment and to thank God for everything that in His goodness He sends us, day after day."

In 1954, a Marian year, Gianna went on a pilgrimage to Lourdes, France as a doctor accompanying a train of sick people. After returning from Lourdes she confided to a friend: ''I have been to Lourdes to ask Our Lady what I shall do: to go to the missions or to marry. I reached home...and Pietro came in!" When asked about her choice of marriage Gianna responded, "The ways of the Lord are all beautiful, provided the end is the same: to save our soul and succeed in taking many others to Heaven to give glory to God."

Her husband described Gianna's life as "an act and a perennial action of faith and charity; it was a non-stop search for the will of God for every decision and for every work, with prayer and meditation, Holy Mass and the Eucharist."