Guest Speaker: Gianna Emanuela Molla, daughter of St. Gianna
Gianna Emanuela Molla, daughter of St. Gianna, will be at Holy Trinity on Sunday, November 5th at 6:00 PM.
We are thrilled at the opportunity to have Ms. Molla speak to our parishioners – mostly about her “Saint Mama” but also about this special project. The format of her presentation is to spend about 35-40 minutes talking about her mother and family and about 5-10 minutes about the restoration effort.
Ms. Molla is currently leading a large restoration effort in Ponte Nuovo, Italy, near Milan, to restore several buildings that were significant in the life of her mother. In addition to her parents’ spousal home and chapel next door, Ms. Molla is undertaking a complete renovation of the factory where her father worked, fashioning it into a retreat center for pilgrims.
Dr. Gianna Emanuela Molla was born April 21, 1962, to St. Gianna Beretta Molla, an Italian wife, mother and doctor, who sacrificed her life following a high risk pregnancy, so that her baby daughter would live. St. Gianna was canonized in 2004, and has become a patron saint for couples experiencing infertility and for mothers in high-risk pregnancies.
Dr. Gianna Emanuela, who also became a doctor, practiced as a geriatrician at the Geriatric Institute, “Camillo Golgi” in Abbiategrasso, Milan. In 2003, she left her profession to care for her father, Pietro, who had serious health problems, until he died on April 3, 2010, Holy Saturday, at the age of almost 98.
Since her father’s death, she works full time in service of the St. Gianna Beretta Molla Foundation, a nonprofit that he founded on 1999 in Milan with her uncle, Father Giuseppe, her mother’s brother. The St. Gianna Foundation’s essential aim is to honor, perpetuate and spread around the world the memory, example, testimony and spirituality of Dr. Gianna’s sainted mother.
Gianna was a guest speaker and the Atlanta Eucharistic Congress this past June. Here is an excerpt of the article from the Georgia Bulletin that was written about her:
A “saint for everyday life”
Molla told congress attendees she wakes up each morning thanking God for the parents she had. She said she wouldn’t be sharing a testimony of faith “had I not been loved so much.”
Her mother, canonized in 2004 by St. Pope John Paul II, was an Italian pediatrician. She sacrificed her life following a high-risk pregnancy so her baby would live. Gianna Emanuela, now a physician herself, was that baby.
St. Gianna is a patron saint for couples experiencing infertility and mothers in high-risk pregnancies.
Molla herself practiced as a geriatrician in Milan. In 2003, she left her profession to care for her aging father, Pietro. Since her father’s death, she works for the St. Gianna Beretta Molla Foundation to perpetuate and spread worldwide the example and spirituality of the saint.
“The sacrifice of her life giving birth to me” speaks to many and her everyday example is a message for modern families, said Molla. She is a “saint for everyday life.”
She affectionately referred to her parents as “my saint mom and holy dad.”
“The Lord loved my Mama very much and she completely responded to his love,” she said.
Molla said she hears daily of her mother’s intercession on behalf of couples seeking to conceive children and women in difficult pregnancies.
She read from Pope John Paul’s canonization homily.
“The extreme sacrifice she sealed with her life testifies that only those who have the courage to give of themselves totally to God and to others are able to fulfill themselves,” the pope said. “Through the example of Gianna Beretta Molla, may our age rediscover the pure, chaste and fruitful beauty of conjugal love, lived as a response to the divine call.”
St. Gianna was 5 and a half when she received her first Communion. She loved music and painting. “She loved the beautiful things of life,” her daughter said.
She prayed for a vocation, pursued medicine as a meaningful apostolate and was later married. St. Gianna believed following a vocation well could help lead to eternal life.
“She had a great devotion to the Virgin Mary,” added Molla.
Pietro Molla was a mechanical engineer with great faith, but a reserved and shy man.
“In fact, mom was the first one to declare her love to dad,” said Molla.
Wedding photos and pictures of Molla’s siblings were displayed. She said her mother prayed for her future family from the beginning. Molla read letters between her parents both before and after marriage, showing a husband and wife firmly rooted in faith.
“They always lived their life in light of faith,” said Molla.
“Choose the child”St. Gianna had three children and during her last pregnancy was diagnosed with a benign fibroid tumor. Doctors advised her to terminate the pregnancy and have a hysterectomy. She decided just to have the fibroid removed.
She told her husband, “If you must decide between me and the child, do not hesitate: Choose the child. I insist on it. Save him.”
“My dad respected my mom’s decision,” said Molla.
After the delivery, St. Gianna had a high fever and died a week later of infection. During her last days, she received a few drops of the most precious blood in the Eucharist, said her daughter.
At one point St. Gianna told her family, “I was already on the other side. I was sent back to suffer more.” Her last words were “Jesus, I love you.”
Caring for her elderly father was a privilege, Molla said.
“Mom and dad’s lives are a powerful example for me,” she said.
Although difficult, they followed the way of the cross, and it is the “only way to give complete meaning to our life,” said Molla.
Because of her gratitude, she set forth on a mission to restore Ponte Nuovo of Magenta near Milan. It was her family’s home, and she hopes it will be a place of pilgrimage for the faithful.
Molla said she is “God’s instrument” in this endeavor.
“I assure you my prayers,” she told those at the congress. “I humbly ask you to pray for me in my mission.”
Afterward, Molla spent two hours talking to people waiting to meet her, some asking for prayers. She hugged and gave encouragement to each person.
“Humble” is the word Karla Sanjuan used to describe Molla and the encounter with her after the program.
A parishioner of St. Joseph Church, Marietta, Sanjuan is involved in pro-life work.
“I’ve known about her mother from years ago when the relics came to Atlanta,” she said.
Sanjuan believes it’s the saint’s “love of life” that speaks to people.
The family focus was also important for Sanjuan as she recalled the idea that strong families are weapons against evil.
“It’s very realistic,” said Sanjuan.