Saint Gianna Beretta Molla was born in
Magenta (Milan), Italy, on 4 October 1922, the 10th of 13
children. Already as a young girl she willingly accepted the
gift of faith and the clearly Christian education that she
received from her excellent parents. As a result, she
experienced life as a marvellous gift from God, had a strong
faith in Providence and was convinced of the necessity and
effectivneess 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 in generous apostolic service
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 thereafter gave special attention to mothers, babies,
the elderly and the 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 on
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."
She became engaged to Pietro Molla and was radiant with joy
and happiness during the time of their engagement, for which
she thanked and praised the Lord. They were married on 24
September 1955 in St. Martin's Basilica in Magenta, and she
became a happy wife. In November 1956, to her great joy, she
became the mother of Pierluigi; in December 1957 of
Mariolina; in July 1959 of Laura. With simplicity and
equilibrium she harmonized the demands of mother, wife,
doctor and her passion for life.
In September 1961, towards the end of the second month of
pregnancy, she was touched by suffering and the mystery of
pain; she had developed a 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
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 decide between
me and the child, do not hesitate: choose the child—I insist
on it. Save the baby." On the morning of 21 April 1962
Gianna Emanuela was born. Despite all efforts and treatments
to save both of them, on the morning of 28 April, amid
unspeakable pain and after repeated exclamations of "Jesus,
I love you. Jesus, I love you," the mother died. She was 39
years old. Her funeral was an occasion of profound grief,
faith and prayer. The body of the new blessed lies in the
cemetary of Mesero (4 km. from Magenta).
Gianna was beatified by Pope John Paul II on April 24,
1994, and officially canonized as a saint on May 16, 2004.
Gianna's husband Pietro and their last child, Gianna, were
present at the canonization ceremony.
St. Gianna is a patron saint for mothers, physicians, and