St. Gianna Beretta Molla was a devoted pediatrician, wife, and mother. She loved and served God in the simplest, humblest gestures of her family and professional life, juggling—as do many women today—the demands of both worlds.
Her example shows how keeping our relationship with God at the center of our lives allows grace to affect all our decisions, especially difficult ones. St. Gianna exemplifies how ordinary, daily experiences are important opportunities for evangelization. As a compassionate doctor who spent time helping women with difficult pregnancies, she carried her whole practice, as well as her family, into her prayer life.
Many have written about Gianna’s life and death; the love letters she exchanged with her husband have been published and continue to be inspirational. At the core of all these writings, though, is a sense of serenity; many of her biographers, as well as authors of articles, refer to her serenity.
It’s difficult to imagine how she could have been serene through all that life was throwing at her! She had a successful pediatric medical practice, which is never without trauma, doubts, and emergencies of some kind. She had a husband she adored, but who was often away from home for matters of work. She had beautiful children, but their births were all difficult and painful. Many people would have felt outside their comfort zone; Gianna made all the distractions and difficulties her comfort zone. Her sanctity was lived out in the most ordinary of situations. She was not a sister, a theologian, or a priest; her vocation was her married life and she kept God at the center of that vocation just as religious keep God at the center of theirs.
Diagnosed with a tumor during her fourth pregnancy, Gianna made the difficult decision to carry the pregnancy to term. That decision, made prayerfully and with complete trust in God, cost her her life, but the child lived, and it is that child who wrote the foreword to Pauline Books and Media's new edition of Giuliana Pelucchi’s Saint Gianna: Her Life of Joy and Heroic Sacrifice. Everyone involved in creating this book was close to St. Gianna, as her youngest daughter Gianna Emanuela says,
While Giuliana was writing, she often came from her home in Milan to Mesero, to visit my Dad and me in our home, because she wished to share her book with us. She wanted the biography to reflect my Mom’s magnificent figure, testimony, spirituality, and example as faithfully as possible. She also wanted to portray my Mom’s life of joy until the moment of her extreme and heroic sacrifice, the moment which enabled me to come into the world. I think that she has achieved her goal.
Emanuela has written and traveled extensively, including in the United States, to share her mother's story and message. She herself wrote the Foreword to this life of her "beloved Saint Mom," as she calls her mother. "Among the many biographies of my Mom that have been published over the years, this one is my favorite."
Too many people in the Church have not yet awakened to the tremendous reality that Gianna embraced: the reality that everyone is an integral part of the holiness and sanctity of the Church, that there are many different vocations and they are equally beloved by God. St Gianna's daughter reflects in the Foreword that her mother's journey of holiness "confirms that we certainly can’t turn ourselves into 'saints’! My Mom was proclaimed 'Blessed’ and then 'Saint,’ first and foremost because of her exemplary Christian life. Her death, as noble as her life, was its crown.”
Her biographer writes, “Many years have gone by since Gianna passed away, but her memory keeps reviving. Her life, concluded with that deliberate gesture of self-giving, has now become a heritage of faith that has profoundly impressed both lay people and consecrated persons.”
Everyday grace. Everyday holiness. Everyday sanctity. St. Gianna, pray for us!