Pastor's Desk Notes

April 28, 2024

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The image on the cover of our bulletin today is of St. Gianna Beretta Molla, whose feast day is ordinarily marked on April 28. Born in Milan, Italy in 1922, Gianna was the tenth of thirteen children in her family. Her parents taught her the importance of a life of faith that included both prayerful devotion and active service. She was very active in serving the elderly and needy through the St. Vincent de Paul Society, and chose to pursue an education in medicine, which she viewed as God’s particular mission field for her. Gianna earned degrees in medicine and surgery from the University of Pavia, after which she opened a clinic in her hometown in 1950. She then furthered her studies with a specialty in pediatrics at the University of Milan, and dedicated her practice to caring for mothers, babies, the elderly, and the poor. In 1955, Gianna married Pietro Molla. A beautiful book, “Love Letters to My Husband,” contains their correspondence and sheds light on a marriage truly rooted in Christ.

In addition to her medical work and particular care for the vulnerable, St. Gianna was extremely happy to become a mother. By 1959, she and Pietro were parents to three children, Pierlugi, Maria Zita, and Laura. In 1961, pregnant with her fourth child St. Gianna began to experience significant pain. She had a fibroma in her uterus. Her doctors gave her three options: an abortion, which would save her life and allow treatment of the tumor; a hysterectomy, which would save her life but prevent any further pregnancies; or removal of the fibroma, which would leave open the possibilities of additional complications. Fully aware of life she was carrying in her womb, and, given her professional qualifications, knowing each and every risk, St. Gianna asked her doctors to do everything they could to save the life of her child. Thus she ruled out abortion and hysterectomy, and prepared herself for the possibility of medical complications. “If you must decide between me and the child, do not hesitate: choose the child? I insist on it. Save the baby,” she told Pietro and her family.

The surgery to remove the tumor was performed, and her daughter Gianna Emmanuela was born on April 21, 1962. Sadly, the complications from surgery could not be overcome and St. Gianna died on April 28, 1962, at the age of 39. The story of her life and sacrifice was soon known even to Pope St. Paul VI, who described her life as one of “conscious immolation.” She knew fully what she was doing and why, and motivated by love for her daughter, was willing to sacrifice her life. St. Gianna Beretta Molla stands as a witness to the dignity of human life, the gift of motherhood, and the power of self-sacrifice. Gianna Emmanuela has traveled the world speaking about the heroism of her mother and encouraging mothers, medical professionals, and pro-life advocates. St. Gianna’s work and life have also inspired numerous “Gianna Centers” ( providing Catholic healthcare. Locally, St. Gianna is an inspiration for Dr.  Kathleen Berchelmann, co-founder of MyCatholicDoctor ( The example of St. Gianna also inspired contemporary mothers, such as Roman-born Chiara Corbella Petrillo, whose heroic life and maternal sacrifice can be read about in her biography “Chiara Corbella Petrillo: A Witness to Joy.” St. Gianna Beretta Molla is a modern saint, an accomplished woman, a model wife and mother, an outstanding physician, and now a patron saint for mothers, doctors, the pro-life movement, and unborn children. St. Gianna, pray for us!


Fr. Sam