Dear Parishioners, +JMJ
One of the most moving moments for me from the Pope’s visit to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families occurred at the vigil service the night before the final Mass. I was very inspired hearing Dr. Gianna Emanuela Molla, daughter of St. Gianna Molla, publicly read a love letter her mother had written to her father only days before their marriage. Perhaps you remember that St. Gianna Molla was diagnosed with uterine cancer during her fourth pregnancy, and she died in 1962, a week after giving birth to her daughter Gianna. [The following three paragraphs are from EWTN’s website]:
“In September 1961, towards the end of the second month of pregnancy, St. Gianna was touched by suffering and the mystery of pain; she had developed a fibroma in her uterus. [St. Gianna was a doctor; so she was fully aware of what she was facing.] Before the required surgical operation, and conscious of the risk that her continued pregnancy brought, she pleaded with the surgeon to save the life of the child she was carrying, and entrusted herself to prayer and Providence. The life was saved, for which she thanked the Lord. She spent the seven months remaining until the birth of the child in incomparable strength of spirit and unrelenting dedication to her tasks as mother and doctor. She worried that the baby in her womb might be born in pain, and she asked God to prevent that.
“A few days before the child was due, although trusting as always in Providence, she was ready to give her life in order to save that of her child: “If you must decide between me and the child, do not hesitate: choose the child—I insist on it. Save the baby.” On the morning of 21 April 1962 Gianna Emanuela was born. Despite all efforts and treatments to save both of them, on the morning of 28 April, amid unspeakable pain and after repeated exclamations of “Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I love you,” the mother died. She was 39 years old. Her funeral was an occasion of profound grief, faith and prayer.
“Gianna was beatified by Pope John Paul II on April 24, 1994, and officially canonized as a saint on May 16, 2004. Gianna’s husband Pietro and their last child, Gianna, were present at the canonization ceremony.
As we pray for the Ordinary Synod of Bishops meeting with the Pope in Rome during October to discuss the blessings and challenges of family life, I thought I would share with you the letter that St. Gianna’s daughter read at the World Meeting of Families Vigil. In the letter St. Gianna exhibits a profound love for Jesus, combined with an equally profound love and affection for her soon-to-be husband, Pietro; and a beautiful desire to raise a family for God. Here is the letter:
September 13, 1955
My dearest Pietro,
I can’t find the words to thank you for the wonderful and loving letters that you have sent so faithfully these past few days. Every letter, every expression gave me so much joy. You are a treasure, Pietro, and the more I read your letters, the more I know that you are so good and you have within you many virtues hidden by your humility, but seen and appreciated by your Gianna.
Thank you for everything, Pietro. I want to tell you all that I feel, all that is in my heart, but I can’t. But you already know what my feelings are, so you must know how to understand me.
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 know, and I feel very moved to be so near 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.
Pietro, will I be able to be the wife and mother [of your children] you have always wanted? I hope so, because you deserve it, and I love you so much.
I kiss you and embrace you with all my love,
So there is the letter that inspired me, especially hearing it from the lips of St. Gianna’s own daughter, the daughter in her womb at the time of the cancer. I was privileged to be studying in Rome when St. Gianna was canonized.
Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,