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April 28

St Gianna Beretta Molla - April 28

Saint Gianna Beretta Molla

Laywoman, Wife, Mother, Doctor

Prolife Witness

(1922- 1962)

“If you must choose between me and the baby, no hesitation; Choose—and I demand it—the baby, Save him!

Saint Gianna Beretta Molla

Saint’s Life Story

Her Family

Gianna Beretta was born in Magenta, Milan, Italy, on October 4, 1922 to Maria de Micheli and Alberto Beretta. She was the tenth of 13 children (only eight survived into adulthood). Both of her parents were members of the Third Order of Saint Francis. Gianna was a pious girl raised in a pious family with one sister became a nun, and two brothers, including Enrico Beretta, who became priests. 

Her Early Life

When Gianna was three, her family relocated to Bergamo, where she grew up. She made her First Communion on April 4, 1928 and her Confirmation in the Bergamo Cathedral on June 9, 1930 from Monsignor Luigi Maria Marelli.  Her parents moved Gianna and their family to Genoa following her sister Amalia’s death in 1937. They sought residence in the Quinto al Mare neighborhood, where she attended school. Gianna was an active participant in the parish of Saint Peter. Archbishop Mario Righetti had an active role in her spiritual formation until Gianna and her family returned to Bergamo in October 1941 to live with her maternal grandparents at San Vigilio.

 Life as a Pediatrician

In 1942, Gianna began her studies in medicine in Milan. Outside of her schooling, she was active in the Azione Cattolica (Catholic Action) movement. While in college, she worked with the poor and elderly. She also joined the Saint Vincent de Paul Society. Gianna received a medical diploma on November 30, 1949 from the University of Pavia. In 1950, she opened a clinic in Mero, Italy close to her hometown, where she specialized in pediatrics. Gianna hoped to join her brother Giuseppe, a priest in the Brazilian missions. There, she intended to offer gynecological services to poor women. However, her chronic ill health made this impractical. Instead, she continued her practice. Gianna returned to school specializing in pediatrics at the University of Milan. She graduated in 1952 working especially with mothers, babies, the elderly, and the poor. At the same time, Gianna expressed her joie de vivre and love of creation through skiing and mountaineering.


Gianna considered a call to religious life. However, after meeting Pietro Molla, an engineer, in December 1954, she got engaged in the following April. On September 24, 1955, Gianna married Pietro at the Basilica di San Martino, in Magenta, Italy. They visited Saint Peter’s Square as part of their honeymoon. Having chosen the vocation of marriage, Gianna embraced it with complete enthusiasm and wholly dedicated herself “to forming a truly Christian family.”

Her Family

Gianna continued her medical career, treating it as a mission and gift from God. During this time, she had her first three children: Pierluigi, who was born in 1956; Mariolina, who was born in 1957; and Laura, who was born in 1959. With simplicity and equilibrium, Gianna harmonized the demands of mother, wife, doctor and her passion for life.

Her Pro-Life Decision

When Gianna was pregnant with her fourth child, doctors had discovered in the second month of her pregnancy a fibroma tumor in her uterus. As a doctor, Gianna knew the consequences of not fully treating the fibroma. Gianna refused to have either an abortion or hysterectomy. She chose the life of her child over her own. On the morning of April 21, 1962, her fourth child, a healthy baby girl was born, Gianna Emanuela.

Her Death

Despite all efforts and treatments to save both of them, on the morning of April 28, 1962 in the Monza Maternity Hospital, in Monza, Italy amid unspeakable pain and after repeated exclamations of “Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I love you”, Gianna died of septic peritonitis. She was 39 years old.  Her funeral was an occasion of profound grief, faith and prayer.

Gianna Emanuela, her fourth child, is a physician herself today and is strongly involved in the pro-life movement.
St. Gianna is the inspiration behind the first pro-life Catholic healthcare center for women in New York, the Gianna Center.

Born:                   October 4, 1922 in Magenta, Milan, Italy

Died:                   April 28, 1962 in the Monza Maternity Hospital in Monza, Italy

Beatified:           April 24, 1994 by Pope John Paul II

Canonized:        May 16, 2004 by Pope John Paul II

Feast Day:         April 28

Patron Saint:    Against Abortion; Mothers; Physicians; Wives; Unborn Children



As a father of two grown daughters, I can’t imagine having to decide between having the life of my wife or the life of my daughter at a complicated pregnancy that Saint Gianna and her husband faced with their fourth daughter, Gianna Emanuela. In discussion with my wife, Jane, she has said that she would definitely take having the child over her life in that situation. Hopefully, like my wife and I, you, too, will never be faced with that situation and that painful decision. 

What would you do in the situation? We should always pray and trust in whatever God’s path calls us – no matter how difficult it may seem at the time. In Saint Gianna’s case, her decision resulted in an intelligent caring daughter that is a doctor and carries the pro-life movement from a real-life story that she is a living part of. 


Prayer of Saint Gianna Beretta Molla

Jesus, I promise You to submit myself to all that You permit to befall me,
make me only know Your will.
My most sweet Jesus, infinitely merciful God, most tender Father of souls,
and in a particular way of the most weak, most miserable, most infirm
which You carry with special tenderness between Your divine arms,
I come to You to ask You, through the love and merits of Your Sacred Heart,
the grace to comprehend and to do always Your holy will,
the grace to confide in You,
the grace to rest securely through time and eternity in Your loving divine arms.

Saint Gianna Beretta Molla, pray for us. Amen.

Source: Saint Gianna Beretta Molla | St. Gianna | Catholic Pro-Life Saint

Saint Links 

Aleteia – 5 Inspirational quotes from St. Gianna Beretta Molla

All Saints & Martyrs – Saint Gianna Beretta Molla

AnaStpaul – One Minute Reflection – 28 April – \Memorial of St Gianna Beretta Molla (1922-1962)

Angelus – St. Gianna’s daughter planning to open spiritual pilgrimage center by Catholic News Service

Catholic Culture  – Saint Gianna Beretta Molla: Wife, Mother and Physician

Catholic Exchange – St. Gianna: Martyr of Maternal Love by Mary Beth Bracyl

Catholic Fire – St. Gianna Beretta Molla, Wife, Mother, Doctor, Pro-life Witness

Catholic News Agency – Answering the Tough Questions Saint Gianna Beretta Molla

Catholic Online – St. Teresa of Avila

CatholicSaints.Info – Saint Gianna Beretta Molla

Catholic Sun – Gianna Emanuela Molla shares testimony of her ‘saint mommy’

Franciscan Media – Saint Gianna Beretta Molla

Loyola Press – Saint Gianna Beretta Molla 1922-1962 Feast day April 28

National Catholic Register – The Daughter of a Saint Speaks of Her Mother’s Holiness

Saints, Feast, Family – St. Gianna Beretta Molla

Saints for Sinners – Saint Gianna Beretta Molla

Saint Mary’s Press – Saint Gianna Molla (1922-1962)

Society of Saint Gianna – Saint Gianna Beretta Molla

uCatholic – Saint Gianna Beretta Molla

Vatican – Gianna Beretta Molla (1922-1962)

WikipediaGianna Beretta Molla

Video Links

St. Gianna Molla – YouTube Video (Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network – USA)