Today is the feast day of a saint that I have a particular devotion to - Saint Gianna Beretta Molla.
When I first heard about Saint Gianna, I was elated. She was a working mother! She loved her husband and children so much and treasured her home and her family. She liked fashion and theater and music. She loved to ski. She was so - normal.
Saints can seem so utterly different from everyone else. Often priests or nuns who have done extraordinary things for God, they seem to be made of other stuff than me, possessing some quality of spiritual material I don't have. Most of them have spent their lives dedicated to God in a way that is quite simply hard to fathom. They certainly tend to find themselves in circumstances very different from my own.
In reading about the lives of saints, there is always so much to learn and apply to my own life. But Gianna is different, oddly enough because of her familiarity.
Gianna Beretta Molla was full of life and her life was so typical. She went to college, she worked, she planned a lovely wedding to her beloved Pietro, and enjoyed decorating their home. Gianna kept her day job - a bustling medical practice - while having a growing family. She enjoyed going on holidays with her husband and children. Gianna worked for Catholic Action and the St. Vincent de Paul Society as well, and she placed God at the center of all she did. She was vibrant, modern, and deeply faithful. Gianna helped me see something I'd always read and known but couldn't really understand how to implement: we are all called to be holy, and with God's grace, capable of it. Even regular working moms.
Saint Gianna is a model for how women in the modern world can do it. My steps are small, but I look to her and I try harder now. I have been so inspired by her.
When I read that Saint Gianna's feast day was April 28th, my connection to her was cemented forever. April 28th is the anniversary of my becoming a mother myself, the day I celebrate the birth of my only daughter.
Happy Birthday A!
Gianna Beretta Molla was a dedicated doctor, a pediatrician and surgeon, in Italy. She was a happy wife and mother of three children she adored. Gianna died on April 28, 1962 after refusing a life saving operation that would have required killing her fourth child in the womb. She was 39. The baby girl she gave birth to, named Gianna, is now also a doctor in Italy.