Gianna Beretta Molla

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Gianna Beretta Molla

St. Gianna Beretta Molla
Birth October 4, 1922
Death April 28, 1962
Birthplace Magenta (Milan), Italy
Beatified April 24 1994
Canonized May 16, 2004

St. Gianna Beretta Molla (October 4, 1922 - April 28, 1962) was born in Magenta (Milan), Italy, the 10th of 13 children.

While a student, Gianna became a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. She obtained degrees in medicine and surgery from the University of Pavia in 1949 and the next year opened a medical clinic in Mesero (near Magenta). In her practice, she gave special attention to mothers, babies, the elderly and the poor.

On September 24, 1955 Gianna married Pietro Molla in Magenta's Basilica of St. Martin. Children were born to the couple in 1956, 1957, 1959, and 1962. Toward the end of the second month of her final pregnancy, it was discovered that a fibroma had developed in her uterus. She was presented with three choices for treatment: abortion, complete hysterectomy, or a surgery to remove only the fibroma. She opted for the latter, the only choice which would both preserve the unborn child's life and allow the possibility of future pregnancy. She continued to work for the duration of the pregnancy.

The child, a girl, was born on April 21, 1962 by Caesarean section. Prior to labor, which had begun the previous day on Good Friday, Gianna had explained that she understood clearly that a choice might have to be made between her life and that of the unborn child's; in the event, her wish was that the child's life be saved. Gianna died at home on April 28, 1962 of septic peritonitis.

Pope John Paul II beatified Gianna on April 24, 1994; she was canonized on May 16, 2004. The miracle recognized by the Church occurred when Elizabeth Comparini, 16 weeks pregnant in 2003, was found to have had a tear in the placenta. All amniotic fluid drained; it was believed that the baby would not survive. Elizabeth prayed for Gianna's intercession and subsequently delivered a healthy baby by Caesarean section.

St. Gianna is a patron saint for mothers, preborn children, and physicians.

[1] Canonization homily by Pope John Paul II, May 16, 2004

[2] Sito ufficiale della Fondazione Santa Gianna Beretta Molla

[3] Catholic Insight article on Saint Gianna; the article describes the dedication of a stained glass window in the chapel of the Newman Centre of Toronto. The article includes the text of remarks by two of Gianna's children, who spoke at the ceremony.

[4] Gianna Beretta Molla and Joseph Moscati: two phisicians, two saints by Egidio Ridolfo s.j.