SAINT GIANNA MOLLA: WIFE, MOTHER, DOCTOR. By Pietro Molla and Elio Guerriero. (Ignatius Press, P.O. Box 1339, Ft. Collins, Colo. 80522, 2004), 153 pp. PB $10.95.
Saints come in all sizes, ages, colors and shapes. Here is the life of a newly canonized contemporary woman, Gianna Molla (1923-1962) who risked her life in order to save her unborn child. Diagnosed with uterine tumors, she refused a hysterectomy that would have aborted the child, and opted for a riskier surgery in an attempt to save the baby. Herself a medical doctor, Molla did give birth to the child, but succumbed to an infection.
This young Italian woman loved skiing, playing the piano, attending concerts, and was a dedicated physician and devoted wife and mother. Pope John Paul II said of her, “A woman of exceptional love, an outstanding wife and mother, Gianna Molla gave witness in her daily life to the demanding values of the Gospel.”
This biography is co-authored by her husband. He tells of her life, which is an inspiration to all.
Helen Hull Hitchcock in the Foreword says, “Her witness of abiding faith in Christ, and her example of generous, loving, self-donation—wherever and however she was called to serve the Lord—provide particular inspiration for women of our time and in our culture, where conflicting demands and confusing signals are a daily part of our lives.”
The story is beautiful and well told; there are pictures as well. It tells us again that the Church is the mother of the saints. G.K. Chesterton said of the Church, “The Catholic has a complete philosophy which keeps a person sane, and not just a simple fragment of it, which may easily drive a man mad.”
The biography of the smiling Gianna Molla shows that one does not have to be extraordinary or do marvelous things to be a saint. It is simply a person who loves God very much.
Elio Guerriero, co-author, in the Preface says, “Here the Church’s teachings about the family becomes more credible …Our wish is that the Catholic community will become similar to the image of this woman so joyful and outgoing, so affectionate and beautiful.”
Fr. Rawley Myers
Colorado Springs, Colo.