St. Gianna was born in Magenta (Milan) October 4, 1922. A mother, wife, doctor, and an ardent lover of the Catholic faith in all areas of her life, she was a living witness of an authentic joie de vivre, a passionate love of nature, and a spirit of charity and service.
After having been married to Pietro Molla and eventually the mother of three beautiful children, she became pregnant a fourth time in September 1961. In September 1961 towards the end of the second month of pregnancy, she was touched by suffering and the mystery of pain; she had developed a fibroma in her uterus. Before the required surgical operation, and conscious of the risk that her continued pregnancy brought, she pleaded with the surgeon to save the life of the child she was carrying, and entrusted herself to prayer and Providence.
The life was saved, for which she thanked the Lord. She spent the seven months remaining until the birth of the child with an exceptional strength of spirit and unrelenting dedication to her tasks as mother and doctor. She worried that the baby in her womb might be born in pain, and she asked God to prevent that.
A few days before the child was due, although trusting as always in Providence, she was ready to give her life to save that of her child: “If you must decide between the child and me, do not hesitate: choose the child – I insist on it. Save him”. On the morning of April 21, 1962, Gianna Emanuela was born. Despite all efforts and treatments to save both of them, on the morning of April 28, amid unspeakable pain and after repeated exclamations of “Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I love you», the mother died. She was 39 years old.” (Biography found at the Vatican website)
Apostolic Elements from the life of St. Gianna
– The most effective tool of evangelization through which we can transform our culture is a life of sanctity. Nothing, absolutely nothing, goes so far to bring about authentic change than a life offered to and lived in Christ.
– In the fight for life, we need not simply change the laws of our societies; rather we must also find ways to reach the hearts of those around us. This, in the end, takes place between Christ and the person. Still, as Christians, we are all called to be effective dwellings of Christ in this world through which others might come to know Him and his love.
– Every Christian is called to be “Pro-life.” This implies certain political and social stances and actions, yes, but it is much more. “Pro-life” is an underlying attitude that must impregnate all of our being. To be Pro-Life means that we are to accept the generous gift that God has given to each one of us and, at the same time, participate in his life-giving love. We must be “givers of life” in Christ. Our natural desire for self-preservation (whether it be our life itself or our ways of living) but be purified and deepened in such a way that we can understand the fundamental Christian message: the fullness of my life can only be found in offering it to others. Thus, the consummate example of this is found in the self-sacrifice of Christ himself on the Cross. This, I believe, is key to understanding St. Gianna’s words: “If you must decide between me and the child, do not hesitate: choose the child – I insist on it. Save him.”