Our new OneOLA Ministry highlights a Saint of the Month to help us learn from those who have gone before us. This month they have chosen Saint Gianna Beretta Molla.
St. Gianna Beretta Molla was an Italian pediatrician born in Magenta, Italy on October 4, 1922.
In 1942, Gianna began her study of medicine in Milan. She received degrees in both medicine and surgery from the University of Pavia in 1949, and in 1950 she opened a medical office in Mesero, near her hometown of Magenta. In 1952, Gianna specialized in pediatrics at the University of Milan and from there on, she was especially drawn toward mothers, babies, the elderly and the poor.
Gianna met Pietro Molla, and married in September 1955. In 1961, Gianna became pregnant with her fourth child. Toward the end of her second month of pregnancy, doctors discovered she had developed a fibroma in her uterus, meaning she was carrying both a baby and a tumor.
The doctors gave her three choices: an abortion, which would save her life and allow her to continue to have children, but take the life of the child she carried; a complete hysterectomy, which would preserve her life, but take the unborn child's life, and prevent further pregnancy; or removal of only the fibroma, with the potential of further complications, which could save the life of her baby. Gianna opted for the removal of only the fibroma. In fact, she was willing to give her own life to save the life of her child.
The doctors tried many different treatments and procedures to ensure both lives would be saved. However, on April 28, 1962, a week after the baby was born, Gianna passed away from septic peritonitis. She is buried in Mesero, beatified by Pope John Paul II on April 24, 1994, and officially canonized as a saint on May 16, 2004.
St. Gianna Beretta Molla is the patron saint of mothers, physicians, and unborn children. Her feast day is celebrated on April 28.