St. Gianna

Q. I saw that St. John Paul II and St. Gianna Beretta Molla are the patron saints of the upcoming World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. What can you tell me about St. Gianna?

A. Here’s a reply from Father Reginald Martin: 

Gianna Beretta was born near Milan in 1922. During her high school and university years she was a member of Catholic Action and the St. Vincent de Paul Society, and generously served the elderly and poor. She received degrees in medicine and surgery in 1949 and opened a clinic a year later. Further studies in pediatrics enabled her to offer additional service — she called her medical practice a “mission” — to infants and their mothers.

She married Pietro Molla in 1955, and the couple had two children. Gianna balanced her vocation as wife and mother with her medical mission, and the Molla family lived quite happily until 1961, when Gianna experienced great difficulty in the early stages of another pregnancy.

Gianna endured the remaining, painful months of her pregnancy aware of the risks both she and her child faced, adamant that, in any complications surrounding the child’s birth, the child’s welfare be given first consideration. A daughter, Gianna Emanuela, was born on April 21, 1962; her mother died a week later, and her final words expressed her deep and abiding love for Jesus.

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