Saint Gianna Beretta Molla is one of the saints most loved by Catholic mothers in the world, because she lived the gift of motherhood with generous dedication until the end of her life.
On one occasion, Pietro, the saint’s husband, revealed details about the spirituality of the Italian mother courage, in a message that reminds us that we can all be “next door saints”, as Pope Francis said.
“My wife had infinite trust in Providence and was a woman full of joy for life. I never thought I was living with a saint,” Pietro said.
On the occasion of the feast of Santa Gianna Beretta Molla, to be held next Thursday, April 28, find out 8 facts about the life of the patron saint of the defense of life.
1.- He was “doctor of the poor”
Santa Gianna Beretta obtained the title of doctor of medicine and surgery in 1949 at the University of Pavia and in 1952 she specialized in pediatrics at the University of Milan.
According to her biography, she “preferred among her patients the poor”, as well as pregnant women, children and the elderly.
“Let us not forget that in the body of our patient there is an immortal soul. Let us be honest and doctors of faith”, Saint Gianna used to say.
2.- He spread his devotion to the Virgin Mary
Saint Gianna was very devoted to the Virgin Mary. When her mother died, she told Maria: “I trust in you, sweet Mother, and I am certain that you will never abandon me.”
She spoke of the Mother of God to the young women of Catholic Action and in the letters addressed to her boyfriend Pietro, who later became her husband.
In his book “Gianna Molla Beretta. Writings, memories, testimonies”, Pietro indicated that on her wedding day, the saint “donated her bouquet of flowers to the altar of the Virgin to whom she was very devoted”.
3.- You can achieve sanctity in marriage
Gianna met her husband at Mass in 1954. He was an engineer and also belonged to Catholic Action. The biography of the saint describes that during their courtship, she was “very clear in her purposes and in projecting her new family, and at the same time, she was wonderful in transmitting to Pietro her great joy of living” .
The couple married on September 24, 1955. Gianna was “a happy wife” and knew “she knew how to harmonize, with simplicity and balance, her duties as a mother and as a doctor.”
Pietro supported her in her decision not to abort her baby, as some doctors suggested to save her life, and after Gianna’s death, the husband never remarried and took care of the four children.
4.- Refused to undergo a “therapeutic” abortion
At the beginning of her fourth pregnancy, doctors detected a tumor in her uterus and suggested that she undergo a “therapeutic” abortion in order to save herself. She refused and asked the surgeon to “at all costs” preserve her baby.
She was operated on and the creature managed to save herself. Before giving birth, Saint Gianna told the doctors: “If you have to decide between my life and that of the child, do not hesitate; choose – I demand it – yours. save him.”
According to her biography, the saint considered that her baby “had the same rights to live” as her other three children and that she “was only the instrument of Providence for that new little creature to come into the world.”
5.- His last daughter was born on Holy Saturday
The biography of the saint specifies that on April 21, 1962, a Holy Saturday, she gave birth to her fourth daughter, Gianna Emmanuela, by cesarean section.
An hour after giving birth, Santo Gianna began to suffer from abdominal pain and fever due to septic peritonitis. His condition worsened in the following days. In the midst of her suffering, she received the Eucharist and did not stop pronouncing prayers of love to Jesus.
He died on April 28 at the age of 39.
6.- A love letter was read before thousands of families
On September 26, 2015, during the World Meeting of Families (WME) held in Philadelphia (United States), Gianna Emanuela read a love letter that her mother wrote to her father when they were still dating.
Then the saint’s daughter greeted Pope Francis and gave him a relic of her mother.
7.- He had three consecrated brothers
According to her biography, Saint Gianna was the tenth of thirteen children and three of her siblings opted for the consecrated life.
His brother Enrico belonged to the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin and was a missionary in Brazil. Giuseppe, another of his brothers, was a priest in the Italian diocese of Bergamo and his sister Virginia was a nun in the Congregation of the Canossian Daughters of Charity.
Sister Virginia once expressed that while she was in India as a missionary, “unexpectedly and providentially, the Lord made me return to Italy in time to reach Gianna, just four days before she died. In this way I was able to assist her and comfort her in those moments that were so painful and precious in the eyes of God, and I have very vivid memories of those moments.”
8.- She was beatified and canonized by Saint John Paul II
Gianna Beretta Molla was beatified by Saint John Paul II on April 24, 1994, during the International Year of the Family; and canonized by the same Pontiff on May 16, 2004.
Saint Gianna Beretta is considered the patron saint of the defense of life, mothers, doctors and unborn children.