Dear St. Gianna

Dear St. Gianna

Dear St. Gianna,

I wanted to write to you today on St. Valentine’s Day and thank you for your friendship and what you have taught me about real, true, and lasting love.

I smile when I think of the day we met in the hallway of the publishing house. It was two-and-a-half years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday. There you were, so visibly pregnant, dressed in your white lab coat, surrounded by your beloved husband Pietro and three of your children—right there on the cover of the Encounter the Saints book bearing your name. I was so intrigued. Who was this woman—so contemporary, so joyful, and so full of life? I wanted to know more about you. I read that simple children’s book, and several months later The Journey of Our Love found its way to my desk. After reading these wonderful letters, my friendship with you has grown.

When I contemplate the different types of love we are blessed with here on earth, and strive to see them as you see them, I do indeed feel so blessed to have your loving spirit in my life.

You have taught me about friendship. How wonderful it is to have friends! When those friends are holy, as you are, and embody the spirit of Christ, it becomes so easy to grow closer to God and keep his commandments.

You have taught me about the love of a parent for a child. Your heroic choice to choose the life of your fourth child, who now is known as Gianna Emmanuela, over your own moved me to want to learn more about you. Perhaps I was so drawn to you because my own mother faced a very similar choice to yours when she gave birth to her fourth child, just a few years after your death. We are blessed to have her and my brother with us, but her fate could have easily been yours. Through God’s grace I have an earthly mother still present to me. I see my mother’s visible love for her now-grown children and grandchildren and I realize the depth of your sacrifice.

“It’s 9:00 PM; our treasures have already been asleep for half an hour. They went to bed because they just couldn’t keep their eyes open. They’re so active, and it’s a good thing they have guardian angels—what one [child] doesn’t do, the other dreams up.”  – Letter from Gianna to Pietro dated June 2, 1959 (The Journey of Our Love, page 227)

You have taught me about the love of a child for a parent. Your own daughter, Gianna Emanuela, though knowing you for only a brief time here on earth, radiates with such love for you and her father Pietro. Her joy in Christ is a beautiful thing to see, and I was so blessed to have the opportunity to meet her in Philadelphia this past fall.

You have taught me so much about spousal love. How easy it is to overlook the faults and foibles of our beloved when we see them through the eyes of Christ. The ordinary extraordinary love that you and Pietro lived each day was truly blessed by God.

“Waiting to embrace you, I kiss you with much, much love.” —Letter from Gianna to Pietro dated June 8, 1959 (The Journey of Our Love, page 238)

How great your joy must be to reunite with your beloved Pietro in the heavenly kingdom!

You have taught me a deeper love for Christ, the Church and the Sacraments. Always you and Pietro speak in your letters  how the Church and the sacraments were so much a part of your courtship and marriage. They strengthened your bond when you were physically separated. By seeking life in Christ above all things, your earthly life brought you to the highest grace of sainthood.

“I can see you kneeling devoutly, with the same Jesus in your heart: The same prayers, the same invocations, even—and above all—when we are so far apart.”  – Letter from Pietro to Gianna dated July 25, 1958 (The Journey of Our Love, page 152).

Happy St. Valentine’s Day and thank you, my friend!

Cathy Knipper
Publicist, Pauliine Books and Media





Family, Inspiration


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