By S.L. Hansen
LINCOLN (SNR) - More than 1,000 people
crowded the pews and the aisles at the Cathedral of the Risen
Christ in Lincoln the evening of July 20 to hear a presentation
by Dr. Gianna Emanuela Molla, daughter of Saint Gianna Beretta
Dr. Molla came to Lincoln from her
home near Milan, Italy, primarily for the dedication of the new
apartment building that is part of Saint Gianna’s Women’s Homes,
an outreach project of Catholic Social Services (CSS). The
apartments are reserved for women who are at risk for abuse
and/or abortion, and their children.
After opening the event with prayer
and a litany to St. Gianna, Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz noted
how rare it is to be able to hear from and speak with the child
of a canonized saint.
"She, her brother and sister are the
first children ever to attend the canonization of their mother,"
Dr. Molla was introduced to the
audience by Dr. Thomas McKenna. Founder and president of the St.
Gianna Physician’s Guild, he was escorting her on her first U.S.
speaking tour. In addition to Lincoln, she spoke at a Priests
for Life Mass in Pennsylvania and gave talks in New Jersey,
California and Missouri. She also participated in a daylong
conference on end-of-life-issues in Kansas.
In Lincoln, Dr. Molla first gave
thanks for the gift of her own life. She acknowledged that she
owes her life to both God and her mother, who refused an
abortion when a painful but benign tumor was discovered during
"Life is the most sacred gift," Dr.
Molla said in a pronounced Italian accent. "We must always
honor, respect and defend it."
Her voice already straining under the
stress of daily speeches and many personal interactions with
faithful Catholics over the preceding days, Dr. Molla spoke
extensively about both her parents, her "saint mami" and her
beloved father, Pietro, who died on Holy Saturday last year.
"He was a wonderful dad," Dr. Molla
Emotionally, she revealed how much she
missed her father’s affection and how happy she was that she had
been able to care for him in the final seven years of his life.
She noted that her father made
absolutely sure that Dr. Molla never felt as though she was the
cause of her mother’s untimely death at the age of 39. He wrote
a book for the young siblings so that they would always remember
their mother’s loving devotion to God.
"God loved my mother very much and my
mother every day responded to His love," Dr. Molla said.
Dr. Molla recounted Saint Gianna’s
last moments in 1962 vividly. Just a few hours after she was
born, she noted, her mother’s condition became quite grave.
Still, the saint’s faith in the Lord
remained steadfast. She repeated over and over, "Jesus, I love
you," as her body grew weaker from infection.
The lesson that Saint Gianna taught
her family about faith was evident in "her complete and loving
acceptance of His Divine Will, even though there was some sorrow
in leaving her loved ones," Dr. Molla said.
She then spoke of her father’s great
sorrow at losing his wife, and his concern that he would be able
to raise their children in faith, as Saint Gianna intended. Dr.
Molla quoted him extensively: "Life in itself is the first and
most important of God’s gifts…The human creature is scared
because of God’s presence."
After Dr. Molla’s speech and closing
remarks by Dr. McKenna and Father Christopher Kubat, director of
CSS, hundreds of faithful laypersons and religious stood in line
for more than 40 minutes to venerate relics of Saint Gianna.
The relics included a lock of her
hair, a pair of her gloves and a fetoscope, a wooden stethoscope
used to listen to the heartbeat of an unborn child. These were
on display before a framed portrait and relic of Saint Gianna
that is now on display at Saint Gianna’s Women’s Homes.
Meanwhile, Dr. Molla greeted throngs of visitors in Crowley
Hall. She posed for photos, admired babies and assured the many
well-wishers of her prayers for the intercession of her beloved