1922 AD (Magenta, Italy) – 1962 AD (Monza, Italy)
Saint Gianna, which in English means Jane, was a great saint who lived not such a long time ago in Italy. Already when she was little, she knew that her life was a gift from God. Did you know that your life, and the lives of everyone else too, are gifts from God? And because life is a gift, we have to be grateful for it and look after it well. As she was growing up, Saint Gianna therefore spent her free time helping the poor and the elderly and because she wanted to help others as much as she could, she studied hard and decided to became a doctor.
When she finished her studies, she opened her own surgery and set out to help especially children, mothers, the elderly and the poor. Have you every been ill? Did a doctor then help you and give you medicine that made you better? You see, doctors can do great good by helping the sick. And did you know that you can help them too? Even if you aren’t a doctor you can be kind to someone who is ill. Can you think of how you would do that? Great!
Saint Gianna later got married to Pietro (Peter in English) and they decided to live like a true Christian family. Did you know that a family is like a little church? When we love each other in our family, Jesus is with us, just like he is in a church in the Eucharist. Others who come and visit us can then meet Jesus among us. It is a wonderful thing!
Soon after Gianna and Pietro got married, they were blessed with children. Their first was a boy – Pierluigi, followed by a girl – Laura. They were a very happy and loving family and a couple of years later, they were expecting their third child. While the baby was still inside her mummy’s tummy, Saint Gianna became ill and the doctors told her that they may not be able to save both her and the baby. In this difficult moment, she chose to follow Jesus’ example. Do you know what Jesus said is the greatest love? It is to give your life for your friends, like he did for all of us. Saint Gianna therefore told the doctors that if they had to choose, they must save her baby instead of her. She loved her baby, who was still in her tummy, more than her own life. In the end, in spite of the doctors trying to save both the baby and Saint Gianna, she died after the baby was born.
Can you imagine how sad that must have been for all her family? And for the little baby girl – Gianna Emanuela, who never knew her mum? It was very sad, just like when Jesus died on the cross. But just like with Jesus, we know that Saint Gianna is in heaven and we thank her for her great example. Next time you have to make a difficult choice, like when you have to help with the house work, or be kind to someone who is mean to you, remember how Jesus told us to love others and how Saint Gianna loved her baby daughter more than herself.
“The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for all that He, in His goodness, sends to us day after day.”
Gianna Beretta Molla