AINT GIANNA was born in Magenta, Italy on October 4, 1922 to her loving parents, Alberto and Marie Beretta. She was a devoted Catholic throughout her entire life. She attended a spiritual retreat at the age of 15 and was involved in Catholic Action and the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul as an adult.
Gianna earned a degree in medicine and surgery. She later opened a medical clinic in Mesero, Italy and married Pietro Molla.
Gianna and Pietro had 4 beautiful children. During her fourth pregnancy, complications arose in the form of a uterine tumor. Due to Gianna’s strong devotion to the Catholic teachings, she opted for the removal of the tumor, as opposed to other, less dangerous, procedures, with the priority of preserving her child's life.
After the operation, complications continued throughout her pregnancy. Gianna was quite clear about her wishes stating "If you must choose between me and the baby, no hesitation; choose – and I demand it – the baby. Save her!"
Gianna died at the age of 39, 7 days after the birth of her 4th child, Gianna Emanuela.
The evening before canonization, pilgrims from all over the world gathered in the Vatican Gardens to pray the rosary in thanksgiving for Gianna Beretta Molla's canonization.
On May 16, 2004 in St Peter's Square in front of over 100,000 of the faithful, Pope John Paul II canonized Gianna Beretta Molla and 5 additional saints. In attendance was Gianna's 91 year old husband, her 3 children, her granddaughter, her living siblings, medical patients of Gianna, friends, etc. The Holy Sea paid particular attention to the frail Pietro.
The canonization of Saint Gianna is the first of its kind. Many mothers have been beatified for their heroic virtues but they entered religious life after becoming widowed. In St. Gianna’s case, the very condition of her being a spouse and mother is being exalted and highlighted. St. Gianna is the first canonized woman physician and professional who was also a “working mom.”
Saint Gianna made a heroic choice, but it was something her family members and friends testified she prepared for every day of her life. Her heroic virtue, genuine holiness of life, selflessness, and quiet joy remind all of us that God entrusts us with a personal vocation. Each and every day presents us with choices that have the power to prepare us to take heroic action whenever it will be called for. We can do that, however, only if we surrender ourselves and what we desire to God and His will for us.