St Gianna Beretta Molla

Feast Day April 28th - Patron Saint of Mother, Physicians, Pre-Born Children

Gianna Francesca Beretta was born in Magenta in Italy. She was the tenth of thirteen children. In 1942, Gianna began studying medicine in Milan. After she graduated in 1949, she began her specialisation in paediatrics working near her hometown. Gianna hoped to join her brother who was a missionary priest in Brazil, however, her own ill health made this impossible for her and so she continued to work in Italy.

In December 1954, Gianna met Pietro Molla, an engineer who was ten years older than her. They became engaged the following April, and married in September 1955. They had Pierluigi, born in 1956, Maria Zita, born  in 1957 and Laura, was born in 1959. Gianna had two miscarriages after this. In 1961, Gianna was pregnant again. During the second month of pregnancy, it was discovered that Gianna had a uterine fibroma. She was given three choices as to how to proceed: an abortion, which would save her life and allow her to continue to have children; a complete hysterectomy, which would preserve her life, but take the unborn child's life, and prevent further pregnancy; or removal of only the fibroma, with the potential forfurther complications. Wanting to preserve her child's life, she opted for the removal of the fibroma.

After the operation, complications continued throughout her pregnancy. Gianna was quite clear about her wishes, "This time it will be a difficult delivery, and they may have to save one or the other - I want them to save my baby."

On April 21, 1962, Good Friday of that year, Gianna Emanuela, was successfully delivered by Caesarean section. However, Gianna continued to suffer, she died of peritonitis 7 days after the birth of her daughter.

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.

The miracle recognized by the Catholic Church to canonize Gianna Beretta Molla involved a mother, Elizabeth Comparini, who was 16 weeks pregnant in 2003 and sustained a tear in her placenta that drained her womb of all amniotic fluid. Through praying to Gianna Molla and asking for her intercession, Comparini delivered by Caesarean a healthy baby despite the lack of amniotic fluid for the remainder of her pregnancy. In his homily at her canonization Mass, Pope John Paul II called Gianna "a simple, but more than ever, significant messenger of divine love."


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