A Witness to Life: Dr. Gianna Emanuela Molla

Author: Merlot Fogarty

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Below is a transcript from a talk held on October 28th in the Carey Auditorium, hosted by Notre Dame Right to Life and co-sponsored by: Belles for Life, Saints for Life, Student Government, Jus Vitae, Knights of Columbus, The deNicola Center for Ethics and Culture, and Notre Dame Militia Immaculata. 


First of all, as I usually do every morning when I wake up and open my eyes, I would like to thank the lord, the Virgin Mary, who made my parents [hearts met], my most beloved and saint-mom, and my most beloved holy dad, really her most worthy spouse, for the gift of life. I can tell you, I would not be here with you if I had not been loved so much. Life is really the greatest, the most precious, the most important gift, we always ought to honor, respect and defend. Then also I thank very much Madeline and also the group Right to Life students and all of you for being here now… And as I do usually, I open my testimony by reading a beautiful letter that my dad wrote to my mom. As Father told, Dad had to do many trips here in the United States… and almost every day they wrote each other letters to be closer to one another. And while reading this letter I understood that it is not the actual distance that allows us to feel close to a person or farther apart. Even though mom and dad were thousands of kilometers apart, they were in fact deeply close to each other, thanks to the immense love which united them… [letter describes scene from an airplane]… since Mom was very worried when dad had to take the airplane, in this beautiful letter he also write the prayer of my [flights]: New York, May 31, 1959, Sunday 1:50 pm MST. My most beloved Gianna. I am flying in a magnificent sky… above the Rocky Mountains… It’s a sight I will never forget. Mountain rising straight up from the rivers and valleys… speak of the power and the providence of the creator… [Prayer thanking God for wife and kids and praying for their safety]. Mom responds: “You really are the dearest and most affectionate little husband. A saintly papa of diamond.” She left her work as a geriatrician when he was 90 years old and he began to have health problems. “The biggest gift we can give to a person to give our love, to give our time… It was an honor for me to stay 7 years and 3 months with my dad.” “It was pope saint Paul VI who wanted to open her [Gianna’s] cause of beatification. He came to know about my mom when he was bishop of Milan.” A bishop asked dad to write a short biography of mom. Dad tells daughter “But the Lord in his infinite wisdom did not intervene to save also my mom’s life… I understood which was God’s holy will… If she had remained here with us, she would have kept on doing good to her family, her neighbors, and her patents. But the Lord wished that Mom could do good to many more people and in so many parts of the world.” Gianna interlude: “How Many? I can testify that I have really lost track of all the graces received in the world through Mom’s intercession. I can say that with her exemplary Christian life and death, she praised and gave glory to God. She keeps on giving glory to God through her powerful intercession… When mom was canonized by Pope Saint John Paul the Second, he testified these words… Certainly it is not possible to become a saint in a moment… With her death she crowned her life. She has been defined as a saint of everyday life.” Goes on to describe some words of a cardinal… Begins moms biography… Mom was part of a big family [10 out of 13]. “Since she was 5 and a half years old she put the lord in the very center of her life. She received her first holy communion and since the day the holly communion became her indispensable daily food… When she was 15 and a half years old she had the fundamental experience of her life. She attended a course of spiritual exercises, and during the spiritual exercises she wrote a booklet of prayer and… ‘It’s better to die a thousand times than to offend the lord’ In another place: ‘Jesus I promise to submit myself to all that you permit to happen to me. Make me only know your will.’ She remained faithful to this purpose all her life…” Begins to talk about Gianna’s vocation… Medicine as an “ethical apostolate” and way to serve others… “She felt she was loving and serving Jesus Himself while he was loving and serving her neighbor… She had a great devotion to the Virgin Mary. She prayed her daily rosary since she was a child. She recommended her girls… to pray every day the rosary telling to them, ‘Without the Virgin Mary’s help we cannot hope to go to paradise… For mom vocation was a gift from God…” She prayed for her vocation. Considered become lay missionary in Brazil. Her spiritual direction encouraged her to form a holy family. “At the age of 32 years old… [she was ‘not on a hurry’] she went to Lourdes to pray to the Virgin of Lourdes to meet the man who had to become her Spouse and that the Lord had prepared for her since eternity…” Hears these words from her aunt. Begins to talk about dad. Dad was 10 years older than mom. Dad was mechanical engineer and director of a very big factory with over 4,00 workers. “He was a man of great faith and extraordinary virtue…” Prayed to virgin Mary for good mother for his children. Waited 43 years. “I can testify… that the only women in my dad’s life was my saint mom… Dad was very reserved and very shy, fortunately my mom was different, because it was just my mom to declare her love to my dad, my mom to him and not the contrary.” Dec. 8 1954, mom went to Lorde. They met officially for the first time. They began to write “wonderful letters.” First letter dad wrote to mom was very formal. “In her very first letter my mom immediately declared her love to my dad…” Reads letter. Dad responds with ecstasy. Letter back and forth during engagement period. Promise to make each other happy. Look to raise a holy family in which Jesus reigns. They got married in big basilica in Magenta. “After they got married, they prayed a lot to receive the gift of children. They’re prayers were listed to… [sibling died] My brothers and sisters were welcomed as wonderful gifts of God… My parents made concrete and brought into fruition all the aspirations, desires, and promises of their time of engagement, always living in God’s grace with his blessing and continuously doing His [God’s] holy will. There are many aspects of my parents marriage that [?] enlighten me, and move me, including their deep faith and unwavering confidence in divine providence, their deep humility. Yes I think that humility is the fundamental virtue to become a saint, and also the fundamental virtue to be able to have all the other virtues. Their infinite mutual love, which made them more serene[?] and stronger. I am also deeply touched by their immeasurable[?] love for other children and their families. Their great mutual esteem. Their reciprocal continuous communication and support. Their intense and constant prayers of gratitude to the lord and to the Virgin Mary. And their loving charity towards their neighbors [?]. They truly lived the sacrament of marriage as a vocation and as a path towards holiness. And mom practiced as a doctor… [Dad told me] She was able to combine with great simplicity and balance her duties as a spouse, and as a mother, and as a doctor… And her great joy for life. She always had some difficult pregnancies, but she would like very much to give a brother to my brother Pierluigi [?] even if there was a risk for a new maternity for her. In six and a half years of marriage, mom had six pregnancies, two miscarriages… so how much mom and dad were open to life. And you know that during my pregnancy, at the end of the second month of my pregnancy, was diagnosed a huge fibroma[?]. Mom had not a cancer. Let me underline that mom had not a cancer. Many persons think they had a cancer. No she had not a cancer. I would like to tell you this because I would like to say how much was big the sacrifice that she did not me. What happened? That this fibroma was very big, so the doctor told to mom, ‘You can choose between three possibilities’: To do a hysterectomy. If she decided for a hysterectomy… [no more children] The second possibility: To remove the fibroma and with an abortion to put an end to my life and to give the uterus to eventually other children… This was the safest solution for mom for my pregnancy… The third possibility: To remove only the fibroma and to keep on with the pregnancy. This was the riskiest solution for mom. She had seven months before the delivery. And after the surgery to remove the fibroma… would have left a scar that would rupture during the pregnancy causing a rupture to the uterus as well… My dad respect mom’s decision, so my life was saved. And mom kept on to live the other seven months before the delivery with what dad described as ‘incomparable fortitude.’ She kept on doing her duties as a mother, as a spouse, as a doctor. She practiced as a doctor until a few days before my delivery. Two weeks before the delivery she told to me dad, ‘Pietro, if you have to decide between the baby’s life and mine, do not hesitate. Chose, and I insist upon this, the child’s life. Do save the baby.’ Of couse my dad, who knew very well my mom’s generosity, her spirit of self-sacrifice… and the strength of her choices and decisions. He felt himself morally obligated to respect them even if they could [?] in painful consequences for and my siblings. Of course mom’s decision to give me life created a very heavy cross on my dad’s shoulders… An April 20 on good Friday mom [entered the hospital] and she gave birth to me through a cesarian section 21 of April Holy Saturday. And she started to have high fever and terrible abdominal pain… as a complication of the delivery. During her week of agony she kept repeating ‘Jesus I love you Jesus I love you.’ And the doctor tried to save her life but her condition became worse and worse. Mom asked my dad to bring her back home… [Died Saturday April 28 at 8 am in spousal bed where other siblings were born. When I was a child I had many sense of guilt towards my brother and my sisters. They suffered much more than me. And also a sense of guilt towards my mom because I know how much mom loved life… It was my dad who explained to me why mom choose for my life. And he told me that mom knew very well that only she for me represented the divine providence to bring me into the world… It is true she gave birth to me twice: when she conceived me and when she allowed me to see the light. Well what happened after mom’s death?” Uncle Priest writes to dad to support him morally. Dad wrote beautiful testimony to the uncle priest:  “Grant that I may be the least unworthy as possible my bride [?]” She lived with her dad 48 years of life. “I can testify that mom answered my dad’s prayer. She helped him to carry his cross day after day and to realize God’s will in the right way… According to His [God’s will] mom and dad lived together only six year and half years of marriage, and then mom entered into paradise. During the 48 years that dad lived without the visible presence they went on to be one heart and soul, very spiritually united and in communion with each other. The true love, that is the love which lasts forever, is really much stronger than death. I remembered that dad prayed a great deal and continued thanking the lord for everything. I was surprised that even though he had suffered tremendously during his long life, he had always told me, ‘Eternity will not be enough for me to thank the Lord for all the graces he granted me during my long life.’ In particular to the grace that he could be present at the age of 92 years old in St. Peter’s square in Rome at my mom’s proclamation as a saint by Pope Saint John Paul II. It was the first time in the history of the Church that a husband was present at his wife’s canonization. And for now my siblings and me are the only children alive of a Saint proclaimed by the Church… To conclude my testimony… My holy parents lives teach me that the way of the cross is certainly the right way I have to follow to be able one day to attain paradise joy[?] and forever. The way of the cross which is closely… as our lord Jesus has witnessed… is the most uncomfortable one the most difficult one to face as a human. But I think that it is the only way which allows us to give a full and complete meaning to our life. As our heavenly mother told us as well this way of life implies our continuous, unconditional yes to the Lord’s will. Our humble acceptance of his holy will, always and in any case, even when we don’t understand it. My holy parents lives teach me that the way of the cross is certainly the way of joy as well. Of the most true [powerful?] happiness which is the prelude to the greatest and most [powerful?] joy of delighting in God’s sight one day and forever. And we can live in the joy when we have the Lord in our eyes, even walking along the way of the cross, when we see every thing that occurs in our life in the Light of Faith. And this also leads us to feel the duty to thank our Lord continuously and for everything. For each breath of ours. As my dad told me, for each of his gifts, even for the gift of sufferings, and every time a new suffering, even a very heavy one, occurs… I pray to the Lord, to the Virgin Mary, and to St. Joseph, to help me every day of my life, to be the least unworthy that is possible of my holy parents. I am living with the joy, to be able one day to embrace them… once again.” Describes her work. Dad told her before his death that it would be very important for a member of the family to spend time on the mission.  “I knew as a doctor I could do some good to my neighbor. I didn’t know what I could do with this new mission… If I don’t do what I try to do, no one can do this on behalf of me. And I think that there is a specific plan of God for each of us even before we birth. And a specific plan of divine providence. Of course we don’t know this plan… I am so happy and honored to be able to, the Fourth Commandment of our Lord is, ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ This is what I would like to do. It’s the minimum I can do. Of course the Foundation [exists] to spread all around the world the example and testimony and spirituality of my saint-mom and my holy dad, for the hope and encouragement of many souls and to give glory to Our Lord… I assure you my prayers and ask you to pray for me and my mission.