Daughter of saint speaks of parents’ holiness

4 Molla parents

Holy Week and Easter is always a very special time for Dr Gianna Emanuela Molla and her family. 

She was born on Holy Saturday in 1962. Her mother – Italian St Gianna Beretta Molla – died the following Saturday in Albis – and her father, Pietro Molla, died on Holy Saturday in 2010. 

        Dr Gianna Emanuela Molla speaks in Auckland.

Dr Gianna Emanuela Molla, the dinner speaker on March 25 at the Go Forward in Hope International Conference at the Novotel Auckland Ellerslie, is the daughter for whom her mother, a pediatrician, gave her life. 

Dr Molla explained that her mother ardently desired to give her eldest child, Pierluigi, a little brother, despite the risk a new pregnancy implied for her. There had been two miscarriages out of five pregnancies earlier. 

But about at the end of the second month of her sixth pregnancy, she was diagnosed with having a huge fibromyoma (fibroids), which is a benign tumour, not cancer, in her uterus. 

Dr Molla explained that her mother was given three options – a hysterectomy, which would have been safe for her in the short and long term, but prevented any future pregnancies; a surgery to remove the tumour and procure an abortion, which would have been safe in the short term but not the long term; and a surgery to remove the tumour and continue with the pregnancy – the riskiest choice in the short and long term.  

“Mom decided for the third option. My Dad respected my Mom’s decision,” Dr. Molla told her Auckland audience. 

“The surgeon removed the fibroma and Mom spent the seven months before delivery with an incomparable fortitude, as Dad defined it. She continued to do her duties as a mother, as a spouse, and as a doctor. My Mom always hoped that God would save her life, not just my life.”  

But, some days before delivery, she told her husband: “Pietro, if you have to decide between the baby’s life and mine, do not hesitate: choose – and I insist upon this – the child’s. Do save the baby.” 

“My Dad, who knew very well his spouse’s generosity, her spirit of self sacrifice, her interior reflection and the strength of her choices and decisions, felt himself morally obligated to respect them, even if they could have extremely painful consequences for him and my siblings,” Dr Molla said. 

St Gianna died of septic peritonitis, a complication of delivery, one week after giving birth. She was canonised as a saint in 2004 by St John Paul II. 

Dr Molla spent much of her Auckland talk describing her “saintly” parents’ love and devotion to each other, their deep faith, their fervent prayers for their vocation, for the gift of children, and for bearing life’s crosses. Her Dad carried two big crosses: the death of his spouse and, just two years later, the death of his daughter Mariolina when still a child. 

“There are many aspects of my parents’ marriage that profoundly enlighten me and move me; this includes: their deep faith and unwavering confidence in Divine Providence, their deep humility – I think that humility is the fundamental virtue to become a saint, and the indispensable virtue for having all of the other virtues – and also their infinite mutual love, which made them more serene, and stronger,” Dr Molla told her Auckland audience.  

“My Mom was able to make the decision she made for me because my Dad’s infinite love for her made her stronger. The more we are loved, the more we are able to make very big decisions.”  

“I am also deeply touched by their immeasurable love for us, the children, and their family, their great mutual esteem, their reciprocal continuous communication and support, their intense and constant prayers of gratitude to the Lord and the Virgin Mary, and their love and charity towards their neighbours. They truly lived the Sacrament of Marriage as a vocation and as a path towards holiness.” 


Dr Molla shared several letters that her parents had written to each other, including when her father had to travel for work, and their deep love was evident on every line. 

One example of such a “beautiful” letter was sent by her father to her mother two weeks before they were married (She was 32, he was 10 years older).  

Dr Molla quoted the following from her father: “Dearest Gianna, … you and I have undertaken our new life with the certainty that God wanted us together. These months have all been a crescendo of understanding and affection. Now we understand each other perfectly, because heaven is our light and the Divine Law our guide … Now our love is full because we are one heart and soul, one feeling and love, because our love, strong and pure, knows how to wait for the blessing of heaven. …” 

Dr Molla’s mother responded with “beautiful” words too: “Dearest Pietro, I’m sure that you will always make me as happy as I am now and that the Lord will listen to your prayers, coming from a heart that has always loved him and served him in a saintly way. Pietro, how much I have to learn from you! You are such a fine example for me, and I thank you for it. 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. My Pietro, our wedding is just a few days away now, and I feel very moved to be so near to receiving the Sacrament of Love. We will be working with God in his creation; in this way we can give him children who will love and serve him. …” 

After her father’s death, a priest wrote to her, saying “Without your father, your mother would not have become the woman, the saint, that she has become. She would have lacked something really precious and unique. In Saint Gianna Beretta Molla we can feel the influence of her ‘dear Pedrin.’ Your father was really a holy man.” 

In 2003, Dr Molla, a geriatrician, left her profession to care for her most beloved father, who had serious health problems, until he died in 2010 at the age of almost 98, with a lucid mind. Among the many ways he had loved his children, he helped Gianna Emanuela to overcome the sense of guilt she had, from childhood, towards her siblings and her mother. 

Dr Molla lived for 48 years with her father, and she is certain that her mother, from heaven, helped her father carry his cross every day. Her saintly mother had recognised her father’s goodness and holiness from the beginning, and that was why she fell in love with him and married him.  

“According to God’s will, my parents lived their conjugal and family life together for only six and a half years, then Mom entered Paradise,” Dr Molla said. “But during the 48 years that Dad lived without her visible presence, they went on to be ‘one heart and soul’, very spiritually united and in communion with each other. True love, that is the love which lasts forever, is really much stronger than death!”  

“I remember 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 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’, referring, in particular, to the grace that he could be present in St Peter’s Square in Rome at my Mom’s proclamation as a ‘saint’ by Pope St John Paul II.” 

Dr. Molla is a founder, lifetime member, and secretary of the Board of Directors of the “Saint Gianna Beretta Molla and Pietro Molla Foundation”, a non-profit corporation based in the USA, and whose president and co-founder is Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke. She is devoted to spreading the knowledge of, and devotion to, her saint mother and her holy father.  

She gave an assurance of prayers for her Auckland audience, and asked for prayers for herself and for the mission the Lord has given her. 


Posted in

Michael Otto

Reader Interactions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *