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A Holy Couple Reunited in HeavenóDeath of Pietro Molla, Husband of St. Gianna Beretta Molla ....
Saltand ^ | April 3rd, 2010 | Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB

Posted on 04/04/2010 12:29:35 PM PDT by Salvation

A Holy Couple Reunited in Heaven — Death of Mr. Pietro Molla, Husband of St. Gianna Beretta Molla on Holy Saturday Morning in Mesero (Milano) Italy

April 3rd, 2010

Early on Holy Saturday morning, April 3, 2010, Mr. Pietro Molla, husband of St. Gianna Beretta Molla, died in his family home in Mesero, near Milan in Italy, surrounded by his daughter Gianna Emanuela and his other children, Pierluigi and Laura. Mr. Molla was 97 years old and had been in failing health for several years. Pierluigi contacted me this morning to let me know of the sad news of Pietro’s death.

Pietro & Gianna MollaI have been good friends with the Molla family since 1999 and St. Gianna is the Patron Saint of the Salt and Light Catholic Television Network in Canada. My friendship with the Molla family grew from our first meeting in 1999 in Mesero. I have been blessed with the gift of their friendship these past eleven years and accompanied the Molla Family in the years leading up to the 2004 canonization of St. Gianna, a great, contemporary woman saint, wife, mother of a family, medical doctor and lover of life.

I discovered a pillar of faith, courage, and devotion in the person of Mr. Pietro Molla, husband of St. Gianna. During our first meeting, Pietro shared with me dozens of photos in family albums, regaling me with stories of Gianna’s interests in music, opera, theater, mountain hikes, skiing. He also shared with me in great detail the final months and weeks of Gianna’s earthly existence in 1962. At her death Pietro would become a single parent with four young children. He never remarried.

The Molla children are all very close to me in age, and we struck up a wonderful friendship that has lasted to this day. Pierluigi and his family welcomed me as one of their own. Laura, my contemporary is a very intelligent, warm professional woman, now happily married to Giuseppe Pannuti.

When Pierluigi and Dr. Gianna Emanuela came to visit me in Toronto in 1999, while I was still chaplain of the Newman Centre at the University of Toronto, Gianna asked me to accompany her to visit two Toronto hospitals that specialize in the care and treatment of those who suffer with Alzheimer’s Disease. Gianna is a specialist in that area. I watched her in action among her medical peers and colleagues in Toronto, sharing stories and research about Alzheimers disease and her love of the elderly. Dr. Gianna Emanuela was continuing the healing mission of her mother.

Over the past eleven years, I visited numerous times with Pietro at his home in Mesero, shared meals with him in little restaurants in town, and spoke many times with him by phone. In September 2003, shortly after the Molla family was informed that the required miracle had been approved by the Vatican for Blessed Gianna’s canonization, Pietro phoned me in Toronto and invited me to make the “official” documentary of St. Gianna Beretta Molla’s life. It was an extraordinary privilege for us at Salt and Light Television in Canada to be entrusted with that task. Our film on St. Gianna’s life, “Love is a Choice,” is an award-winning documentary now in numerous languages.

Pietro & Gianna MountainsI shall never forget the eve of St. Gianna’s canonization at the Vatican on May 16, 2004, when Pietro called me to his room at the convent of the Sisters of Maria Bambina, and asked me to spend several hours with him as he prepared spiritually for the canonization ceremony the following morning. What an extraordinary privilege. That night I said to Pietro, “You are from a family of Saints and Gianna will not be the only one raised to the glory of the altar. You will follow.” He held my hand firmly, smiled and wept. The scenes of the canonization ceremony on May 16, 2004, remain engraved on my mind and heart, especially when Gianna Emanuela and her father Pietro were warmly embraced by Pope John Paul II during the moving liturgy, which would be Pope John Paul II’s last canonization ceremony.

My last visit with Pietro took place on Sunday, October 19, 2008, during the Synod of Bishops on the Word of God at the Vatican, where I served as English Language Media Attaché. As we had one Sunday free, I took advantage of the abbreviated “Roman weekend” and flew to Milan to spend the day with the Molla family in Mesero. I celebrated Mass in the bedroom of Pietro Molla, then 96 years old, surrounded by the three Molla children — Dr. Gianna Emaunela, Pierluigi, and Laura and their families. Several close family friends and relatives also joined us.

Following Mass we went downstairs and enjoyed a simple “pranzo” with the Molla family, sharing of how the moving story of St. Gianna’s life is spreading around the entire world. I was with ordinary Milanese folks who took the Beatitudes seriously and lived them each day. We may speak of the communion of saints in theological terms, but on that October Sunday in 2008, I experienced it in flesh and blood terms — this group of people was for me the reality of communion of saints in real time: a husband of a saint, children of a saint, nieces and nephews of a saint. They are like us. Their love of God and neighbor, their simplicity, fire and dynamism will burn away the sadness and evil in the world today, not with harshness but with fiery love and ordinary kindness.

From my first meeting with Mr. Molla in 1999, I was convinced then and moreso now after eleven years of friendship, that the story of holiness did not end with St. Gianna Beretta Molla. Pietro Molla was a pillar and rock – a man of extraordinary faith, simplicity and holiness. He lived a remarkable, saintly life and like his beloved wife, Gianna, made holiness something attainable for all of us.

Gianna, Pietro e PierluigiThe cause for the beatification and canonization for St. Gianna’s brother, Frei Alberto Beretta, a Capuchin missionary in Brazil, is now opened in Bergamo, Italy. I am certain that the cause for Pietro Molla’s beatification and canonization will be opened soon. What a powerful witness this would be to the dignity and sacredness of marriage and family life!

Laura Molla shared with me this morning by phone that the Molla family is somehow linked to the mystery of Holy Saturday. It was on Holy Saturday 1962 that Gianna Beretta Molla gave birth to her daughter, Gianna Emanuela. One week later, on Easter Saturday, St. Gianna died from the serious medical condition that resulted from bringing her child to term. St. Gianna gave her life so that the child in her womb would live. And now Pietro returns to the house of the Father on Holy Saturday morning 2010.

Pietro shared with me one day what he wrote in his diary on March 7, 1955: “The more I know Gianna, the more I am convinced that God could not have given me a greater gift than her love and companionship”. St. Gianna and her husband are now reunited in heaven and celebrate the mystery of Christ’s dying and rising in the company of the Lord and his saints. I can only imagine the scene in heaven on Holy Saturday morning as this wonderful couple was reunited after forty-eight years of being apart. They would embrace their daughter Mariolina, who died as a child, and be welcomed by the Venerable Pope John Paul II who enrolled Gianna in the book of the Saints. May St. Gianna, Pietro and Mariolina intercede for us now from heaven, and watch over all married couples and families on earth.

Pietro Molla’s Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Easter Tuesday, April 6, 2010 in Mesero, Italy. He will be buried in the town cemetery, next to the tomb of St. Gianna Beretta Molla.

Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB
CEO, Salt and Light Catholic Television Network

TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; History; Theology
KEYWORDS: catholic; catholiclist; saints
Complete title:

A Holy Couple Reunited in Heaven — Death of Mr. Pietro Molla, Husband of St. Gianna Beretta Molla on Holy Saturday Morning in Mesero (Milano) Italy

1 posted on 04/04/2010 12:29:35 PM PDT by Salvation
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To: nickcarraway; Lady In Blue; NYer; ELS; Pyro7480; livius; Catholicguy; RobbyS; markomalley; ...

Prayers for Pietro Molla

2 posted on 04/04/2010 12:31:03 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Comment #3 Removed by Moderator

To: netmilsmom; thefrankbaum; markomalley; Tax-chick; GregB; saradippity; Berlin_Freeper; Litany; ...

An emotional Pietro Molla, St. Gianna's husband, meeting the Holy Father at his wife's canonization. The woman to his right is the daughter that St. Gianna chose to give birth to at risk of her own death, rather than aborting her as was suggested by her doctors.
4 posted on 04/04/2010 12:45:59 PM PDT by NYer ("Where Peter is, there is the Church." - St. Ambrose of Milan)
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To: dr_who

What do you mean by your comment?

5 posted on 04/04/2010 12:55:55 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

That is a lovely tribute to their family.

6 posted on 04/04/2010 12:56:57 PM PDT by Pride_of_the_Bluegrass
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To: NYer

Thanks for that picture.

7 posted on 04/04/2010 12:56:58 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation
Wow, extraordinary tale!! I had no idea the husband was still alive.
8 posted on 04/04/2010 2:34:41 PM PDT by ishmac (Lady Thatcher:"There are no permanent defeats in politics because there are no permanent victories.")
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To: Salvation

I hate to say, “Oh, good!” but really, it is.

9 posted on 04/04/2010 3:01:58 PM PDT by Tax-chick (Espiritu Santo, Espiritu Santo, renueva la faz de la tierra!)
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To: Tax-chick

Except that his children and grandchildren, etc., will miss him.

10 posted on 04/04/2010 3:17:20 PM PDT by Tax-chick (Espiritu Santo, Espiritu Santo, renueva la faz de la tierra!)
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To: Salvation

There is no marriage in heaven, if that is where they are

11 posted on 04/04/2010 4:40:33 PM PDT by RnMomof7
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To: RnMomof7

I am aware of that. But they will still know each other — intimately.

You are a pro-life person, aren’t you?

12 posted on 04/04/2010 4:48:11 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: RnMomof7

Right, that’s biblical. Often wondered when one lost their spouse and remarry - what then? Seems like we are all friends in heaven and not living together as some promote.

13 posted on 04/04/2010 6:41:29 PM PDT by presently no screen name ( Repeal ZeroCare!)
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To: RnMomof7

Doesn’t matter. They will be together.

14 posted on 04/04/2010 8:30:05 PM PDT by cubreporter (Rush is an American Patriot. He has been blessed with exceptional wisdom. Thank God for Rush!!!)
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To: Salvation

Very cool. Well done, good and faithful servant. Rest well.

I used to teach St. Gianna Beretta Molla as a model of pro-life and a saint of our times.

My students loved her story.

15 posted on 04/05/2010 12:10:49 AM PDT by incredulous joe ("Live Free or Fight!!")
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To: NYer
Thank you for posting this!

A couple more photos:

16 posted on 04/06/2010 11:01:00 PM PDT by Deo volente (Hope and Change, aka All Government, All the Time)
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To: incredulous joe
Saint Gianna Beretta Molla

Saint Gianna Beretta Molla
A Model for Mothers - 1922-1962
Beatified 1994 -- Canonized 2004

April 28

Prayer of Saint Gianna Beretta Molla | Quote from Pope John Paul II | Vatican Links to Biography and John Paul II's Homily | Helen Hull Hitchcock's Introduction to Saint Gianna Molla -- Wife, Mother, Doctor

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.


Quotes from John Paul II

“Gianna Beretta Molla was a simple, but more than ever, significant messenger of divine love. In a letter to her future husband a few days before their marriage, she wrote: "Love is the most beautiful sentiment the Lord has put into the soul of men and women".

“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 fulfil themselves.

“Through the example of Gianna Beretta Molla, may our age rediscover the pure, chaste and fruitful beauty of conjugal love, lived as a response to the divine call!”

-- From the canonization homily of Pope John Paul II,  May 16, 2004

Link to Vatican website: Saint Gianna's biography and Pope John Paul II's homily:

Introduction by Helen Hull Hitchcock:
Saint Gianna -- A Model for Mothers

"A woman of exceptional love, an outstanding wife and mother, she gave witness in her daily life to the demanding values of the Gospel”. In his homily on the occasion of her beatification, April 24, 1994, Pope John Paul II proposed Gianna Beretta Molla as a model for all mothers: “By holding up this woman as an exemplar of Christian perfection, we would like to extol all those high-spirited mothers of families who give themselves completely to their family, who suffer in giving birth, who are prepared for every labor and every kind of sacrifice, so that the best they have can be given to others".

In canonizing Gianna Beretta Molla this spring (2004), the Church officially recognized the extraordinary sanctity of a woman who chose to live an ordinary life – as a professional and, later, as a wife and mother.  Though she had once considered entering a religious order, instead she practiced medicine (receiving her medical degree in 1949, and her specialty in pediatrics in 1952). She devoted herself to caring for her patients, and her selflessness and dedication as a physician endeared her to the people.  But it was not only her practice of medicine that influenced them. She regarded her profession as a mission through which she could aid and nurture both bodies and souls. The young doctor’s devotion to her Catholic faith was well known in her community, and especially her instruction of young Catholic girls in their faith.

Gianna meditated long and prayerfully on God’s will for her. “What is a vocation?”, she wrote: “It is a gift from God – it comes from God Himself! Our concern, then, should be to know the will of God. We should enter onto the path that God wills for us, not by ‘forcing the door’, but when God wills and as God wills” (in Blessed Gianna Beretta Molla: A Woman’s Life. Boston: Pauline Books, 2002, p 71, 72). Gianna believed she was called to marriage and family life, but she waited patiently for God’s will to be revealed.

Gianna Beretta did not marry until she was thirty-three years old – to an engineer ten years her senior, Pietro Molla, whose sister had earlier been a patient of the young Dr. Beretta. Letters Gianna wrote during their year-long courtship reveal her deep commitment to this new vocation. The couple married in September 1955. Several days before their wedding, Gianna wrote to Pietro, reflecting on their vocation to marriage: “With God’s help and blessing, we will do all we can to make our new family a little cenacle where Jesus will reign over all our affections, desires and actions. … We will be working with God in His creation; in this way we can give Him children who will love Him and serve Him”.

Gianna’s faith and her communion with Christ were profound, and from this grace she drew deeper understanding of the dedication and self-giving love that is fundamental to Christian marriage and family life.

After her marriage and even after she had children Gianna continued her medical practice, extending her gifts beyond her immediate family to the children of others.  Three children, a son and two daughters, were born between 1956 and 1959, and Gianna had two miscarriages before conceiving another baby in 1961.  Pietro and Gianna referred to their children as their “treasures”.

In his own account of these years, Pietro Molla says that he did not object to Gianna’s continuing her medical practice, because she was so deeply attached to her patients, though after she became pregnant with their fourth child, Pietro and Gianna had agreed that she would stop working outside the home after the baby was born.

Early in the pregnancy it was discovered that Gianna had a fibroma, a benign tumor, on her uterine wall. Surgery that would involve aborting the baby was suggested, but the Mollas instantly and firmly rejected this idea, and chose surgery that would remove only the tumor. Because of her medical knowledge, Gianna understood more fully than most the risks involved in this delicate surgery – both to her and to her unborn child. She insisted that the baby be protected at all costs.

The surgery successfully removed the fibroma, and the pregnancy continued, apparently normally, and the family made plans for the future in joy and hope. But all was not well, and a few days before the baby was born, Gianna realized it would be a difficult – possibly life-threatening delivery. She asked her husband to promise that if it were necessary to choose between saving her and saving the baby, he should choose the baby. “I insist”, she said.

On Good Friday, Gianna entered the hospital. And a lovely, healthy baby daughter, Gianna Emanuela, was born the next day, April 21, 1962. But the mother had developed a fatal infection – septic peritonitis. (Modern antibiotics most likely would have saved her.) The inflammation caused immense suffering during her final week on earth.  In the midst of her terrible pain, Gianna called to her own mother, Maria, who had died in 1942 – and she prayed. As she lay dying, she repeated, “Jesus, I love you”, over and over.

Her agony ended on April 28 – at home. She was 39. The tiny infant, Gianna Emanuela, was exactly one week old. 

The bereft Pietro was left to raise four very young children without their mother:  Pierluigi, the eldest, was not yet six; Mariolina, four; Laura, nearly three; and of course the new baby. In this book are Pietro’s own reflections on the difficult years that followed, and how the example of his wife’s serene and joyous faith helped sustain him through his grief at Gianna’s death; when their little daughter, Mariolina, died only two years later; and through all the ordinary difficulties of raising a family alone – with the added extraordinary challenges of raising children whose absent mother had already become a revered public figure.

Almost immediately upon her death a devotion to Gianna arose among those whose lives she had so deeply touched, and who knew her heroic devotion to her faith and her family.

Her “cause” was introduced formally in 1970. She was beatified April 24, 1994; and canonized on May 21, 2004 – forty-two years after her death.

That her husband, now 91, and three children attended her canonization ceremony is one of several historic “firsts” connected with her canonization. (Pierluigi, an engineer, is married; Laura is a political scientist; Gianna Emanuela is a physician who specializes in Alzheimer’s disease.)

Gianna Beretta Molla is the first married laywoman to be declared a saint (though there are many sainted widows). She is also the first canonized woman physician — a professional woman who was also a “working mom” four decades ago, when this was unusual.

Her witness of abiding faith in Christ, and her example of generous, loving, self-donation — wherever and however she was called to serve the Lord — provide particular inspiration for women of our time and in our culture, where conflicting demands and confusing signals are a daily part of our lives.

There is another aspect of this new saint’s life that is worth pondering – and this book affords a glimpse of it. That is, the role of her family – the example of her parents – in her formation as a committed, active young Catholic. Her family was outstanding for its deep Christian faith, expressed not only in worship, in private prayer and family devotions, but in generously extending their gift of faith to others.

Her family’s example of unselfish love set the direction of young Gianna’s life. It gave her the firm foundation upon which, through the grace of God and her trusting acceptance of His will for her, she confidently built her life – a life that would shelter, nurture, guide, and inspire countless others. Gianna’s plans for raising her own children in the faith was influenced by her own experiences growing up. Her understanding of motherhood came from her own mother. Even though her own children could not know her tender motherly presence while they were growing up, she interceded for them. At the very end of her life, as Gianna suffered mortal pain, she sought her mother’s prayers. As we – especially mothers of young families – may now seek hers.

Saint Gianna, pray for us.

Helen Hull Hitchcock
Feast of Saint Joachim and Saint Anne
July 26, 2004
Ignatius Press

17 posted on 04/28/2010 9:34:17 AM PDT by Salvation ( "With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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