An initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Married Saint: St. Gianna Beretta Molla

Today the Church celebrates the feast day of St. Gianna Beretta Molla, a 20th century wife, mother, and doctor who sacrificed her life for the sake of her unborn daughter. St. Gianna, pray for us!

A picture of St. Gianna

The basics:

  • Born October 4, 1922 near Milan, Italy
  • Married Pietro Molla on September 24, 1955
  • Mother of six children (including two lost before birth): Pierluigi, Mariolina, Laura and Gianna Emanuela
  • Died April 28, 1962 in Ponte Nuovo di Magenta, Italy
  • Beatified by Pope John Paul II on April 24, 1994
  • Canonized by Pope John Paul II on May 16, 2004

Read St. Gianna’s biography (on the Vatican website).


    • A model of discernment: After earning her medical degree in 1949, St. Gianna actively discerned whether God was calling her to join two of her brothers in the mission fields of Brazil, or to marry Pietro Molla, an engineer and fellow member in the charitable group Catholic Action. Gianna sought God’s will in prayer and spiritual direction and eventually, during a pilgrimage to Lourdes on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, it became clear that her vocational call was to marriage and the family. Pietro and Gianna were engaged on Easter Sunday of 1955 and married that September.
    • A heroic witness to life: After being blessed with three children (and suffering two miscarriages), St. Gianna was again with child in 1961. Early in the pregnancy, a dangerous cyst was discovered on her uterus. Choosing the route of treatment least dangerous to her unborn child, Gianna underwent a risky and painful surgery to remove the cyst. Thankfully the baby was unharmed, and the pregnancy continued. When it came time for her to give birth, Gianna said to the delivering doctor, “If you must decide between me and the child, do not hesitate: choose the child.” Little Gianna Emanuela was born on April 21, 1962. A week later, her heroic and self-sacrificing mother died at home after repeated exclamations of “Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I love you.”


    • “Love is the most beautiful sentiment the Lord has put into the soul of men and women.” – St. Gianna, in a letter to her future husband a few days before their wedding (as quoted in Bl. John Paul II’s homily at her canonization mass)
    • “Gianna Beretta Molla was a simple, but more than ever, significant messenger of divine love…Following the example of Christ, who ‘having loved his own…loved them to the end‘ (Jn. 13:1), this holy mother of a family remained heroically faithful to the commitment she made on the day of her marriage. The extreme sacrifice she sealed with her life testifies that only those who have the courage to give of themselves totally to God and to others are able to fulfill themselves.” – Bl. John Paul II, homily at St. Gianna’s canonization mass
    • “A young mother from the diocese of Milan, who, to give life to her daughter, sacrificed her own, with conscious immolation.” – Pope Paul VI, Angelus, September 23, 1973 (quoted in the Vatican biography; original in Italian)
    • “All my mother’s life has been a hymn to life, to joy, to God’s love, to Our Lady, to her family, to her very near, to her beloved husband, my daddy, her beloved children and her dear patients.” – Gianna Emanuela, St. Gianna’s daughter, in a 2011 interview

Patron saint of mothers, physicians, preborn children

Pray: Litany of St. Gianna Beretta Molla


3 responses to “Married Saint: St. Gianna Beretta Molla”

  1. monica says:

    Hi, I have only just in the last few days heard the name of St.Gianna whilst looking through St.Gerard Majella website. Last night I googled her name and read her story. Upon reading that she was canonized on 16 may 2004 imediantly a happy, relieved sensation of lightness came over me. I felt it was a sighn from God that he was there, listening to my worries, sending one of his saints especially to me and for me. The 16 may is my birth date and 2004 is the year I was almost 13 and begun my first menstrual cycle, and april -the month of her feast -was also the month it started. You see, I have now been a year married and so far no sighn of children. I so desperatly want to be pregnant right now that I get very down and depressed about it. It feels like everyone around me is pregnant and all I feel is jealous and fruatrated that it still isnt my turn. Its getting to where I feel like Mary Jesus and God isnt listening to my prayers and cant imagine he ever will. But when I felt that sighn from God through St.Gianna I knew that He does care and will, when the times right, awnser our prayers and bless us with babies. I just really want it to be soon and to be able to put my true, lighthearted faith in God, and to have the srreghth, love and trust to put my and my husbands fate and life in His hands and to be at peac and happy with His Will. St.Gianna, St.Gerard, Sts.Felicity, Perpetua, Anthony, Monica and Rita, please please pleaaase pray for us and those desperate for children to be blessed with our prayers to be heard and awnsered, thank You! We place our lives into Gods Hands, not our will but His Be Done!!! Amen xxx

    • Elizabeth says:

      Hi Monica, have you looked into learning Natural Family Planning methods? These can be used to achieve pregnancy, not only to avoid pregnancy for serious reasons. You can look into Creighton method, Marquette method and Couple to Couple league (Symptothermal) among others.

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