Wife, Mother, Doctor, Pro-Life Witness
Saint Gianna Beretta Molla

By Debbie Thompson

Saint Gianna

One day this past December, (2006) I was reading the internet (one of my daily routines) and just shook my head at what’s taking place in this world. As I read more and more stories I soon came across one article that stood out from the rest. It was written about Planned Parenthood. They are the nation’s largest abortion business and they have closed more doors in 2005 and more than 100 in the past 11 years. The head of the organization was even quoted as saying, “Planned Parenthood is shrinking.” Suddenly, I remembered I had read somewhere that The Virgin Mary has asked us to pray so that abortion ends. Well it sounds to me like the prayers are working!

So I continued on and one page led to another until I stumbled across a saint’s name I’ve never heard of. Saint Gianna Beretta Molla. I decided to do a little research on this saint and I couldn’t believe it, but she was a physician, a working mom, and a loving wife. What stood out to me was how this canonization was the first of its kind. She became involved in Catholic Action, was very Pro-life, and in the end she gave her life for her newborn child. After reading that, I thought how fitting an article about her would be with this year’s mission for this website. Mothers, young girls, and everyone need to know about her and hopefully she will be seen as a model to imitate. Saint Gianna Beretta Molla represents all mothers, and she provides inspiration to all during these trying times we live in.

When Gianna was 12, she became involved in Catholic Action. This was a movement to mobilize Catholic laity to live a more intense spiritual life. She took to the program and lived it to the fullest.  When she was older and attended a university school, she became a leader in Catholic Action. She planned conferences, retreats and excursion for younger girls. Many who went and were involved with Gianna have testified that they have rediscovered their faith in God through her example.

After medical school Gianna met her soon to be husband and then later was married in 1955. About a year or so after marriage they welcomed their first son. Gianna and her family lived with Christian values. She knew the importance of Christian Schools, Catholic Action, and how those combined provided them with the values and guided principles for them to live their lives with genuine holiness.  Her values and selflessness here clearly were evident during her fourth and last pregnancy. Pregnancy had always been a difficult experience for her, but this last one was different. In the second month of her pregnancy she was diagnosed with a large fibroid. This fibroid (or uterine tumor) caused her considerable pain, and based on a few medical documents from Italy, the fibroid was large enough to threaten the continuation of the pregnancy by compressing the fetus. She was then presented with three options. The first two options included having her pregnancy terminated. However, that was not an option for her so she chose option 3. She would have the fibroid removed and risk the continuation of her pregnancy. It was quite different for Gianna having surgery for a tumor in the early 60’s in Italy compared to our technology today. Thankfully, the fibroid was later removed and the surgery was successful. Towards the end of her pregnancy she had a premonition and told her brother that trouble lay ahead. She told him “when the time comes, it will be either he or I.”

Later she discussed this with her husband and demanded not to save her, but save the child. The day after Good Friday it was decided after several attempts to induce labor that the child would be delivered by cesarean section. A healthy 10 pound baby girl was delivered and Gianna’s condition began to decline soon afterward. She died seven days later at the age of 39 of Septic Peritonitis, an infection of the lining of the abdomen. In her final sufferings, she once told her sister “if you only knew how differently things are judged at the hour of death!...How vain certain things appear to which we gave such importance in the world!”

In today’s world we see life and death decisions against the unborn child made carelessly. Saint Gianna Beretta Molla always believed the privilege of being a mother, of being a cooperator with God in bringing new life meant always defending your children in or out of the womb.

Eight years after her death, in the spring of 1970 the path to Saint Gianna Beretta Molla’s canonization began.  In 1977 the first miracle occurred in Brazil. A young protestant woman was in the hospital dying shortly after giving birth to her still-born baby. The nurse, a capuchin sister, prayed to Gianna Beretta Molla so the mother would be freed from pain and to avoid a voyage to another hospital. Two other nurses joined in and immediately according to the patient, her troubles completely disappeared. Gianna was beautified in 1994 and after her second miracle her canonization took place in Rome May 16, 2004. The first known shrine to Saint Gianna Beretta Molla is located at Nativity of Our Lord Parish, Warminster, PA, Archdiocese of Philadelphia. This serves as kind of the headquarters for the relics of Saint Gianna Beretta Molla as well as leaflets and holy cards are available to the public.

After reading many of the testimonies attributed to Saint Gianna, there have been many intercessions on her behalf. As I was reading through my notes on Saint Gianna I came across a sentence that is very well stated for our world we live in today and I think it speaks for our future. “The future generations will depend largely on whether the understanding of the marriage and family that Saint Gianna exemplifies will be seen as a model to imitate.


Prayer of Saint Gianna Beretta Molla

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 honor 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.


Return to main "The Gift of Life" page

If you would like to write Medjugorje USA