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The Catholic Defender: St. Gianna Beretta Molla (A woman of exceptional love)

Saint of the Day:St. Gianna Beretta Molla (A woman of exceptional love)


St. Gianna Beretta Molla was an Italian pediatrician born in Magenta in the Kingdom of Italy on October 4, 1922. She was the tenth of thirteen children in her family.


As a young girl, Gianna openly accepted her faith and the Catholic-Christian education provided to her from her loving parents. She grew up viewing life as God's beautiful gift and found the greatest necessity and effectiveness in prayer.

In 1942, Gianna began her study of medicine in Milan. She was a diligent and hardworking student, both at the university and in her faith.


As a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, Gianna applied her faith in an apostolic service for the elderly and needy.


In 1952, Gianna specialized in pediatrics at the University of Milan and from there on, she was especially drawn toward mothers, babies, the elderly and the poor.



In less than 40 years, Gianna Beretta Molla became a pediatric physician, a wife, a mother and a saint!

She was born in Magenta near Milano, the tenth of Alberto and Maria Beretta’s 13 children. An active member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society and a leader in the Catholic Action movement, Gianna also enjoyed skiing and mountain climbing. She earned degrees in medicine and surgery from the University of Pavia, eventually specializing in pediatrics. In 1952, Gianna opened a clinic in the small town of Mesero, where she met engineer Pietro Molla.


Shortly before their 1955 marriage, Gianna wrote to Pietro: “Love is the most beautiful sentiment that the Lord has put into the soul of men and women.” In the next four years the Mollas had three children: Pierluigi, Mariolina, and Laura. Two pregnancies following ended in miscarriage.

Early in her final pregnancy, doctors discovered that Gianna had both a child and a tumor in her uterus. She allowed the surgeons to remove the tumor but not to perform the complete hysterectomy that they recommended, which would have killed the child. Seven months later in April 1962, Gianna Emanuela Molla was born at the hospital in Monza, but post-operative complications resulted in an infection for her mother. The following week Gianna Molla died at home, and was buried in the cemetery of Mesero.


Gianna Emanuela went on to become a physician herself. Gianna Beretta Molla was beatified in 1994 and canonized 10 years later. Her liturgical feast is celebrated on April 28.


With great faith and courage, Gianna Molla made the choice that enabled her daughter to be born. We can often wish that we were in different circumstances, but holiness frequently comes from making difficult choices in bad situations.


Abstract. Saint Gianna Beretta Molla gave up her life to save the life of her child. She was a devout woman and pediatrician who refused a hysterectomy to remove a benign fibroid tumor in her uterus during pregnancy as the procedure would have resulted in the death of her unborn child.


Gianna considered the field of medicine to be her mission, and treated it as such. She increased her generous service to Catholic Action, a movement of lay Catholics dedicated to living and spreading the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church in the broader culture. The Catholic Action movement is still at work today, throughout the world.


Gianna died a week after successfully delivering her daughter. The Roman Catholic Church canonized Gianna as a Saint on May 16, 2004, after verifying two miracles attributed to her intercession.


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St. Gianna gave birth to a baby girl but died on April 28, 1962, just eight days later due to complications of the delivery, That child, named Gianna Emanuela, grew up to become a physician herself and has had a wonderful life because of her mother’s selfless sacrifice.


Gianna Beretta Molla was beatified on Mother’s Day in 1994, the Year of the Family, with her husband and children in attendance. Pope Saint John Paul II described her that day as:


” A woman of exceptional love, an outstanding wife and mother, she gave witness in her daily life to the demanding values of the Gospel. By holding up this woman as an exemplar of Christian perfection, we would like to extol all those high-spirited mothers of families who give themselves completely to their family, who suffer in giving birth, who are prepared for every labor and every kind of sacrifice, so that the best they have can be given to others.”

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