Not long ago, I enjoyed an intimate kitchen conversation with dear friends, fellow CatholicMom contributor and author, Christine Watkins, and international pro-life warrior, Patricia Sandoval. We were discussing some of our favorite contemporary saints. Patricia introduced me to St. Gianna Beretta Molla.
St. Gianna Beretta Molla
Gianna Beretta Molla (1922-1962) was the tenth of thirteen children born in Magenta, a small town in the metropolitan city of Milan. A skiing and mountaineering enthusiast, Gianna’s Catholic faith permeated every aspect of her life as a woman, loving wife, mother, and pediatric physician.
Gianna and Pietro Molla were united in holy matrimony in 1955. They welcomed three children in the first four years of marriage. Two pregnancies that followed sadly ended in miscarriage. In the early stages of her sixth pregnancy, doctors discovered a large fibroid tumor on her uterus. For the sake of her unborn child, Gianna refused the recommended hysterectomy which would have resulted in the death of the baby. Gianna elected to have the tumor removed and continue the pregnancy.
Yes, I have prayed so much in these days. With faith and hope I have entrusted myself to the Lord. … I trust in God, yes; but now it is up to me to fulfill my duty as a mother. I renew to the Lord the offer of my life. I am ready for everything, to save my baby. (Gianna to Surgeons)
Gianna gave birth to Gianna Emanuela on April 21, 1962. Post-operative complications resulted in an infection which ended the earthly life of Gianna Molla one week later at the age of 39. She was raised to the altar in heaven by Pope John Paul II on May 16, 2004. In attendance, among more than 100,000 faithful, was St. Gianna’s husband, Pietro (91), and their children including Doctor Gianna Emanuela Molla, the child for whom St. Gianna sacrificed her life.
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! (Pope John Paul II, May 16, 2004)
St. Gianna Beretta Molla is the patron saint of mothers, physicians, and unborn children. Her feast day is April 28.
I’m certain it was no coincidence that the day following my personal introduction to St. Gianna, while scrolling through my social media feed, I discovered a post from Tianna Williams, tiSpark, announcing the completion of her latest painting, St. Gianna Molla.
I am an artist in every sense of the word and have been for as long as I can remember. I guess that’s what happens when a musician and a graphic designer get together.
As a little girl, I loved sketching and coloring and creating. Whether it was a cover page for a book report, a birthday card for my mom, or a drawing of a saint to share at the dinner table, I poured my heart into it.
I’ve discovered that there is something intensely spiritual about painting. Perhaps it is the abandonment necessary to pour oneself into a piece, or maybe it is recognizing that I myself am little more than a brush in the hand of the Artist. As I have painted the faces of Mary and the Saints, I feel as though I have developed a beautiful friendship with these holy souls. Each one has challenged me in a unique way — one may call me to perseverance, another to patience, or yet another to simplicity. Time and again I have experienced that flood of grace that has allowed me to do what I know I am not capable of. I am deeply humbled to have been called to this and profoundly grateful.
Art is at once a personal thing and also a gift to the world. It is my hope that my art will shape me as a person, inspire the people around me, and give glory to God. (Tianna Williams mission statement)
Tianna and St. Gianna
I knew I wanted to paint St. Gianna at least a year before I actually started — partly because she’s a popular modern saint, and partly for the strong pro-life element to her story. As I read more about her life, I discovered a kindred spirit and role model for all women in this modern age. She gave generously of herself through her work as a doctor and volunteer, in her vocation as wife and mother, and ultimately offering up her life for the sake of her unborn child. As someone struggling to balance work and motherhood, she has become a source of inspiration in hard moments, for she is proof that it is possible — by the grace of God — for a modern woman to become a saint.
She is a beacon of hope for all women who, though hidden, are transforming the world one act of loving service at a time. (Tianna Williams)
Tianna Williams is ‘transforming culture one painting at a time.’ Visit ti-spark.ca to shop her inspirational Catholic art gallery for your sacred home spaces.
Like the spark that sets a fire ablaze, it is my prayer that these images will bless you and bring a little bit of beauty back into the world. (Tianna Williams)
Follow Tianna Williams at @artbytispark
Will you invite St. Gianna to be your special MOM patron? Turn up the sound and watch the beautiful time-lapse video of the original St. Gianna oil painting below.
Copyright 2019 Brian K. Kravec