Gianna Beretta Molla[i] (1922 – 1962) was the tenth of thirteen children in her family. Growing up in a very strong religious family, her mother taught her holiness by living in sanctity and purity. At her young age, she wrote in her diary, “I offer Him all my work, all my disappointments and suffering… to die rather commit mortal sin.” She entered the medical school in Milan and later practiced as a physician. Before getting married, “To be called to family life does not mean getting engaged at the age of 14…. You cannot follow this path if you do not know how to love. To love means to want to perfect yourself and your beloved, to overcome your egoism, and give yourself completely.” She married Pietro Molla when she was 33.
To be called to family life does not mean getting engaged at the age of 14… You cannot follow this path if you do not know how to love.
She wrote to her fiancé a few days before their marriage: “With God’s help and blessing, we will do all we can to make our new family a little cenacle where Jesus will reign over all our affections, desires, and actions…We will be working with God in His creation; in this way we can give Him children who will love Him and serve Him.” Attending Holy Mass and daily prayer become a crucial gathering of the family. As a doctor, she believed that she is “called to bring God into a situation where priests are not able to assist…. Whoever touches the body of the patient touches the body of Christ.”
In 1961, Gianna was pregnant with her fourth child. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with cancer. In order to be saved, she had to make a choice: her life or her child’s. Before entering the delivery room on Holy Saturday 1962, she told her husband, “You must decide between me and the child, do not hesitate: choose the child – I insist on it. Save the baby.” Few days after the delivery, she asked her husband to bring her home. She told her husband, Pietro, “Do you know what I saw?… Over there [heaven], we were content, too happy, too much in love, and God sent me here to suffer a little bit, because we cannot live without some suffering.” In her agony, she repeated the words, “Jesus, I love you.” She went Home at the age of 39.
She was beatified in 1994 and canonized in May 16, 2004 by John Paul II, Gianna Molla was the first woman physician who was declared a saint in our modern age.
Dear Thiếu Nhi Thánh Thể, the Readings today invite us to surrender as St. Joseph who unconditionally abandoned himself to the will of God. God’s message to him could lead him to a wondering: me or God? My life or Baby Jesus? He could freely accept or refuse God’s plan for his life. Even though God’s message to him was contrary to his own plan, he accepted it because he completely surrendered to God.
The path of you and me are the same as St. Joseph and St. Gianna, all of us are called to respond to God’s will in different parts of our lives. What parts do you still hold back from Him? What parts do you need to surrender to Him right now?
A prayer of St. Gianna Berretta Molla,“Jesus, I promise You to submit myself to all that You permit to befall me, make me only know Your will. My most sweet Jesus, infinitely merciful God, most tender Father of souls, and in a particular way of the most weak, most miserable, most infirm which You carry with special tenderness between Your divine arms, I come to You to ask You, through the love and merits of Your Sacred Heart, the grace to comprehend and to do always Your holy will, the grace to confide in You, the grace to rest securely through time and eternity in Your loving divine arms.”[ii]
[i] Summarized from 39 New Saints by Brian O’Neel (Ohio: St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2010), 38. [ii] http://www.saintgianna.org/main.htm (accessed December 15, 2010).