The Church celebrates the feast day of Saint Gianna Beretta Molla on April 28. Saint Gianna followed Christ as a doctor, a mother, and a wife. She was a cheerful and energetic person who loved life and was involved in many activities.
Download a printable activity to inspire Catholic kids to share their enthusiasm with others, like Saint Gianna.
Gianna was born on October 4, 1922. She lived during a time of great changes for both for her native country of Italy and the world. Benito Mussolini had just become leader of Italy the year before Gianna was born. He expanded his powers until he became dictator of Italy. During World War II, Mussolini made an alliance with Nazi Germany and Japan. Gianna and her husband both opposed Mussolini's government, as did many Italians. Mussolini was deposed at the end of the war, and the United Nations was formed in 1945 to promote peace throughout the world.
During Gianna’s lifetime, in the medical field doctors were developing new ways to fight disease and infection. Penicillin was discovered in 1928 by the Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming. It began to be used for treatment of infections during the 1940s. In 1952, Jonas Salk, an American scientist, discovered the first vaccine for polio, a dangerous disease that affected many children.
Gianna was born in Milan, Italy. She grew up surrounded by a close-knit and loving family. Her father worked in a cotton mill to provide for his wife and eight children. Gianna's family was very religious, and Gianna would accompany her mother to daily Mass. Gianna was a happy child, although she struggled with her school work and battled poor health.
“The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for all that He, in His goodness, sends to us day after day.”
Gianna also became more diligent about her school work. She thought about becoming a missionary to Brazil, but eventually decided that the best way to fulfill her desire to serve others was by becoming a doctor. She was drawn to care for mothers, children, and senior citizens in particular, and she eventually specialized as a pediatrician. Many of her patients felt that she was not only their doctor, but also their friend and confidante.
Gianna married Pietro Molla when she was 32 years old. Both of them were passionate about their jobs, but Gianna insisted that they also make time for other pursuits. They enjoyed entertaining guests, attending plays and concerts, and skiing and hiking. Most of all, they loved their children. Gianna considered her children her “treasures.” Although it was unusual at this time, Gianna continued to practice medicine after she had children. She loved her children so much that this love overflowed into her work as a doctor.
Saint Gianna reminds us that we are called to follow Christ through prayerful service in every situation in life. She recognized that life is a gift from God and she wanted to share it with others.
Gianna was beatified by Pope John Paul II on April 24, 1994, during the international Year of the Family. Gianna Beretta Molla's husband and daughter were present at her canonization. Gianna Emanuela followed in her mother's footsteps by becoming a doctor.
Saint Gianna reminds us that we are called to follow Christ through prayerful service in every situation in life. She recognized that life is a gift from God and she wanted to share it with others. We should pray to her for help in finding ways to offer our own talents and gifts in the service of others.
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