Sunday, April 30, 2006

Saint (St.) Gianna Beretta Molla

A heart to heart – mother to mother summary on the life of St. Molla. Though short lived – She "lived to the fullest" in all means of this sentence.

By Cynthia Fernandes

Gianna Beretta Molla

Prayer of St. Gianna Molla

"Jesus, I promise You to submit myself to all that You permit to befall me, makes 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."
Born: 4 October 1922
Died: 28 April 1962
Canonized: 16 May 2004 by Pope John Paul II
Feast Day: April 28
Patron Saint of: mothers, physicians

Patron of "Mothers of the Family."

Born in Magenta (near Milan), Italy, on October 4, 1922; died April 28, 1962. Gianna Beretta, the 10th of 13 children, was raised and educated by pious parents, who taught her the life is a great gift from God to be embraced with gratitude. Consequently, she had a strong hope in God's providence and was convinced of the effectiveness of prayer.

Already as a youth she willingly accepted the gift of faith and the clearly Christian education that she received from her excellent parents. As a result, she experienced life as a marvelous gift from God, had a strong faith in Providence and was convinced of the necessity and effectiveness of prayer.

As a teenager and young adult, she was a member of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society and volunteered her time to work among the elderly and poor. At the same time she diligently applied herself to her studies, earning degrees in medicine and surgery from the University of Pavia in 1949. The following year, she opened a medical clinic in Mesero near her hometown. She specialized in pediatrics at the University of Milan in 1952 and thereafter gave special attention to mothers, babies, the elderly, and the poor.

She diligently dedicated herself to studies during the years of her secondary and university education, while, at the same time, applying her faith through generous apostolic service among the youth of Catholic Action and charitable work among the elderly and needy as a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. After earning degrees in Medicine and Surgery from the University of Pavia in 1949, she opened a medical clinic in Mesero (near Magenta) in 1950. She specialized in Pediatrics at the University of Milan in 1952 and there after gave special attention to mothers, babies, the elderly and poor.

While working in the field of medicine-which she considered a "mission" and practiced as such-she increased her generous service to Catholic Action, especially among the "very young" and, at the same time, expressed her joie de vivre and love of creation through skiing and mountaineering. Through her prayers and those of others, she reflected upon her vocation, which she also considered a gift from God. Having chosen the vocation of marriage, she embraced it with complete enthusiasm and wholly dedicated herself "to forming a truly Christian family".

Gianna saw medicine as her means of serving the Creator; thus, she increased her generous service to Catholic Action. Yet, unlike many of the earlier saints, Gianna exhibited a real joy for living. She loved skiing and trekking through the mountains. Some thought that such a good Christian woman should enter the convent; but after prayerful reflection, she knew that her vocation was marriage and cooperation with God "to forming a truly Christian family."

On September 24, 1955, she married Pietro Molla in Saint Martin's Basilica in Magenta, and she became a happy wife. Gianna was no cardboard saint. She knew and joyfully embraced the demands of balancing her obligations as a career woman, wife, and mother. In November 1956, to her great joy, she became the mother of Pierluigi; in December 1957 of Mariolina; in July 1959 of Laura.

In September 1961 towards the end of the second month of pregnancy, she was touched by suffering and the mystery of pain; she had developed a fibroma in her uterus. Before the required surgical operation, and conscious of the risk that her continued pregnancy brought, she pleaded with the surgeon to save the life of the child she was carrying, and entrusted herself to prayer and Providence. The life was saved, for which she thanked the Lord. She spent the seven months remaining until the birth of the child in incomparable strength of spirit and unrelenting dedication to her tasks as mother and doctor. She worried that the baby in her womb might be born in pain, and she asked God to prevent that.

A few days before the child was due, although trusting as always in Providence, she was ready to give her life in order to save that of her child: "If you must decide between me and the child, do not hesitate: choose the child--I insist on it. Save the baby." Thus, Gianna Emanuela was born on the morning of April 21, 1962. Despite all efforts to save both mother and child, today's saint died less than a week later in horrible pain. After repeatedly exclaiming, "Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I love you," the mother died. She was 39 years old. Her funeral was an occasion of profound grief, faith and prayer. The body of the new blessed lies in the cemetery of Mesero near Magenta (L'Osservatore Romano, 4/27/94).

On July 6, 1991, His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, issued the Decree of Heroicity of Virtue of the Servant of God. On December 21, 1992 the Decree of the Miracle was proclaimed. On April 24, 1994, Pope John Paul II beatified Gianna Beretta Molla at St. Peter's Square in Rome. Finally, on May 16, 2004, Gianna Beretta Molla was canonized.

"Conscious immolation», was the phrase used by Pope Paul VI to define the act of Blessed Gianna, remembering her at the Sunday Angelus of September 23, 1973, as: "A young mother from the diocese of Milan, who, to give life to her daughter, sacrificed her own, with conscious immolation". The Holy Father in these words clearly refers to Christ on Calvary and in the Eucharist.

Gianna was beatified by Pope John Paul II on April 24, 1994, during the international Year of the Family.

St Gianna Beretta Molla was a physician, a working mom, professional women, and a loving wife.

She has now been raised to the alter in heaven and provides particular inspiration to all those who experience the constant demands and confusing signals that our current culture places on us.


God our Father we praise You and we bless you because in St Gianna Beretta Molla you have given us one who witnessed to the Gospel as a young women, as a wife, as a mother, and as a doctor. We thank you because through the gift of her life we can learn to welcome and honour every human person.

You, Lord Jesus, were for Gianna a splendid example.
She learned to recognize you in the beauty of nature.
As she was questioning her choice of vocation she went
in search of you and the best way to serve you.
Through her married love she became a sign of
your love for the Church and for humanity.
Like you, the Good Samaritan, she cared for everyone
who was sick, small or weak. Following your example,
out of love she gave herself entirely,
generating new life.

Holy Spirit, Source of every perfection, give us wisdom, intelligence, and courage so that, following the example of Saint Gianna and through her intercession, we may know how to place ourselves at the service of each person we meet in our personal, family and professional lives, and thus grow in love and holiness. Amen.

Posted by Cynthia Fernandes

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