October 4, 1922, Magenta, Lombardy, Italy
April 28, 1962, Monza, Lombardy, Italy

Saint Gianna has become one of my favorite Saints and patrons. She was born into a devout Catholic family, the mother [Maria] of whom bore thirteen children although she suffered from a weak heart condition and would die at the age of 55. The family raised into adulthood a nun, two priests and our Saint. Gianna was the tenth child. Five of her siblings would die young.

Both Alberto and Maria were were Third Order Franciscans who believed the education of their children almost a fulfillment of the work of God through the creation and molding of these souls, a most important undertaking, from which there was no slacking. Maria, while not well, kept us missionary efforts on behalf of Christ including living in simplicity and with frugality, even though the family had some means. Daily Mass and the Rosary were hallmarks of family life, which Gianna maintained throughout her life.

Already as a young girl she was filled with the gift of faith that she received from her saintly parents, the gift of faith centered in complete trust and surrender to Divine Providence joined to the conviction of the necessity and effectiveness of prayer.

"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'." [Saint Gianna]

A newly ordained priest had invited her and her future husband, Pietro Molla, to his first Mass, where they met and struck a friendship that blossomed an engagement and marriage on September 24, 1955, in the Basilica of St. Martin in Magenta, and she became a happy wife. In November 1956s he bore their first born, a son, Pierluigi in December of 1957, then followed
Maria Zita (Mariolina) and Laura after which there wee a few miscarriages before she conceived and gave birth to her last daughter, who bears her mother's name, Gianna.

Meanwhile she continued to work as a pediatrician, vowing to remain home after that in order to simplify and edify family life, although the family was fortunate in having a good housekeeper to assist them.

In September 1961 towards the end of the second month of gestation with Gianna, our Saint endured an agonizing 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 decided between me and the child, do not hesitate: choose the child - I insist on it. Save him'. On the morning of April 21, 1962, Gianna Emanuela was born. Despite all efforts and treatments to save both of them, on the morning of April 28, amid unspeakable pain and after repeated exclamations of 'Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I love you', the the heroic Gianna died. She was 39 years old. Her funeral was an occasion of profound grief, faith and prayer." [Ibid.] She was buried in Mesero near Magenta. Crowds turned out for the Requiem Mass because she was so well known and loved.

When Pope Paul VI defined the action of Blessed Gianna, remembering her at the Sunday Angelus of September 23, 1973, he said: "A young mother from the diocese of Milan, who, to give life to her daughter, sacrificed her own, with conscious immolation". These words were clearly a reference to Christ on the Cross and in the Blessed Sacrament.

<>Gianna was beatified by Pope John Paul II on April 24, 1994, during the international Year of the Family. The miracle required for this step in Sainthood is as follows:

In 1977 a young Protestant woman was in the hospital in Grajau, in Brazil, dying shortly after giving birth to a still-born baby. An unforeseeable yet very serious complication had caused a vaginal abscess which was inoperable in that hospital requiring that the patient be transported to a specialized hospital in San Luis located more that 600 kilometers away. It was almost certain that she would not survive the trip, so the nurse, Sister Bernardina di Manaus, a Capuchin sister, prayed to Gianna Beretta Molla in order that, through her intercession, the dying mother be freed from her pain and the dramatic voyage to San Luis be avoided. Looking at a small photo of the Servant of God, she prayed "you who are the sister of Father Alberto (who founded the hospital), make this fistula heal and keep this woman from having to travel to Sao Luis…". The nursing nun asked to other nurses to join her in this request to Gianna and immediately the young mother was healed.

On April 11, 1978, Cardinal Giovanni Colombo and sixteen bishops of the Lombardy Episcopal Conference requested of Pope John Paul II the introduction of the cause of beatification of the Servant of God Gianna Beretta Molla. In their postulatory letter the bishops implored the glorification of this spouse and mother, describing her as "a model of a complete reality to this world prone to misconstrue and refute the right of life".

The decree of heroicity of virtues was issued in July 1991 and in December 1992, the proclamation of validity of the miracle was issued.

Next miracle required for canonization was officially declared on December 20.

This is the account: in 2003, Elisabeth Comparini Arcolino, a mother of three, was 16 weeks pregnant with her fourth child when she sustained a tear in the placenta, resulting in the loss of her amniotic fluid. The doctors were convinced that the baby would not survive to birth.

But by the providence and grace of God, Bishop Diogenes Silva Matthes of Franca, Brazil, was visiting a friend at the hospital. After being summoned to Arcolino’s room, Arcolino told him the doctor had advised her to have an abortion.

"You don't kill life inside the mother," the bishop told her. "This is the time for Saint Gianna Beretta Molla to intercede for the life you are carrying." At home the bishop began praying, "The time for your canonization has arrived. Intercede to the Lord for the grace of a miracle and save the life of this little baby."

And again the miracle!

Despite the lack of amniotic fluid, Elisabeth delivered a healthy baby girl, whom she named after our Saint, Gianna Maria, by Caesarean section on May 31, 2000. The entire Arcolino family was present for the canonization, May 16, 2004.

Her Feast Day is April 28, the day of her blessed, holy death.

She is sometimes referred to as "The Smile of God" because of her radiant glow of joy ever on her face, even in hardship.

Quotes from the Saint:

1. To do all things for the Lord… To serve God, I will not go to the movies without being sure that the film is suitable and not scandalous or immoral…

2. I prefer to die rather than commit a mortal sin…

3. To say the "Hail Mary" every day so that the Lord might give me a holy death…

4. I wish to fear mortal sin as if it were a serpent and I repeat I would die a thousand times rather than offend the Lord.

5. I wish to ask the Lord to help me not to go to Hell and therefore to avoid all that would harm my soul.

6. I beg the Lord to help me understand His great mercy.

7. I propose to obey M.M. and to study even though I don’t feel like it, for the love of Jesus.

8. From this day on, I wish to pray on my knees in the morning in church just as I do in my room in the evening at the foot of my bed.

9. The way of humiliation is the shortest way to reach holiness. To pray that the Lord lead me to Paradise.

Continued forward for the Litany of Saint Gianna Molla.