Many of us think of saints as icons from the Middle Ages, who wore shining white robes, fasted on bread and water and constantly looked toward heaven, with their hands folded in prayer. It's rather refreshing, then, to know that there are modern saints, with whom we may have more in common.
St. Gianna Beretta Molla, whose feast day is today, was born in 1922 in Italy. Throughout her young adult years she struggled to know what her vocation was. Eventually she became a doctor and married Pietro Molla in her thirties. Their commitment to having a holy marriage and family is a beautiful example for us today.
St. Gianna is most known for her brave decision to put her fourth unborn child's life before her own. While she was pregnant, St. Gianna was diagnosed with a uterine fibroma and was presented with three options: Have an abortion, have a hysterectomy (in which the child would die) or have a surgical procedure that would allow her baby to live while not offering much help to the mother. After choosing the third option, she told her husband, "This time it will be a difficult delivery, and they may have to save one or the other -- I want them to save my baby."
A beautiful little girl was born to the Molla family on Holy Saturday of 1962. A week later, St. Gianna died.
Her husband and daughter were present at her beatification and canonization and are still living.
In 2006, I was studying abroad and was able to take a train to Magenta and Messero, Italy, where St. Gianna lived. I was blessed to see the church in which she was baptized and married, as well as the outside of her home and office. Her grave was located in the middle of the local cemetery. (You can see my pictures of the church and grave on this post.) It was amazing to walk along the streets that St. Gianna travelled only 44 years earlier. Her sacrifice is an incredible example to all mothers and to all within the pro-life movement.
You can learn more about St. Gianna and find a prayer asking for her intercession here.