Well. :) Today is April 30th, and just a few days ago, the 28th, we celebrated the memorial of a favorite of mine, St. Gianna Beretta Molla! Let's talk about her a little bit, shall we? And then I'll tell you why she's so special to me.
St. Gianna is a contemporary saint, she lived from 1922 to 1962. My parents were alive for the last ten-ish years of her life. She was born into a large and devout Italian family, the tenth of thirteen children. Several of her siblings joined the religious life, and Gianna considered that as well, but ultimately decided to pursue medicine as a career, and later married Pietro Molla. She specialized in pediatrics, and was involved in faith-based social groups such as Catholic Action. Her faith was an important part of her life that she brought into her work as a physician, and then as a mother. She and Pietro had three children, when in 1961, she conceived their fourth child. Early on in her pregnancy, she was advised by her doctor that she had a fibrous cyst on her uterus. Eschewing the advice to have an abortion (which would make removal of the cyst less risky) or a hysterectomy, Gianna chose to have the cyst removed and to carry her daughter to term. Following the delivery via cesarean section, Gianna soon developed septic peritonitis and died. This daughter, Gianna Emanuela, also went on to become a physician, inspired by her mother's example. In May 2004, when Gianna was canonized by Pope John Paul II, her husband and two of her daughters were at the ceremony, marking the first time that a husband was present for the canonization of his wife. There is a book memorializing letters between husband and wife, called The Journey of Our Love: The Letters of Saint Gianna Beretta and Pietro Molla. How sweet is that?! (and only $6.99 for Kindle!)
St. Gianna's story touched me as a young woman for several reasons (in fact, my Dominican religious name is Maria Gianna!) She was a lay woman, and let's face it, the majority of saints were religious. I can relate to her very much as a lay Catholic woman working outside of the home, and as a wife and mother. And even before I myself was married and had children, I was so inspired by her example of putting the life of her unborn child ahead of her own. Originally I was under the impression that the mass on her uterus was cancerous, but it was not. However, her being pregnant certainly complicated the situation with removing it, particularly given the medical technology of that time. For her, there was only one option, and that was to ensure that her baby survived. All of her actions were ordered toward this goal. I really admire St. Gianna, and with her countenance so relatable to me, I feel like she's a friend of mine, interceding for me and rooting for me up in heaven. *heart*
Speaking of feast days, guess whose feast is also April 28th? Take it away, Cristina!
St. Louis de Montfort is very near to my heart for a couple of reasons. I have made consecration to Jesus through Mary with Tiffany the last couple of years. We have a great devotion to our Blessed Mother, and although Tiffany and I focus on the prayers and daily readings from 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael Gaitley, we essentially walk with St. Louis Mary de Montfort as we go about this journey, deepening our faith every year and love for the Blessed Mother.
Tiffany and I also share a great love and affinity for Dominican Spirituality and St. Louis de Montfort was a Third Order Dominican!
St. Louis de Montfort’s feast day is April 28th and he was a great influencer of Pope Leo XIII, Pope Pius X, Pope Pius XII and one of Tiffany’s favorite’s, Pope Saint John Paul II.
According to Pope Saint John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, his personal motto "Totus Tuus" was inspired by St. Louis' doctrine on the excellence of Marian devotion and total consecration, which he quoted:
Our entire perfection consists in being conformed, united and consecrated to Jesus Christ. Hence the most perfect of all devotions is undoubtedly that which conforms, unites and consecrates us most perfectly to Jesus Christ.
Now, since Mary is of all creatures the one most conformed to Jesus Christ, it follows that among all devotions that which most consecrates and conforms a soul to our Lord is devotion to Mary, his Holy Mother, and that the more a soul is consecrated to her the more will it be consecrated to Jesus Christ.
A French-Roman Catholic priest, confessor, and Third Order Dominican, in 1700 he asked permission not only to preach the rosary, but to also form rosary confraternities.
St. Louis also founded the Missionaries of the Company of Mary (for priests and brothers) and the Daughters of Wisdom who care for the sick.
He wrote many books around his devotion to Mary besides he is most well known for True Devotion to Mary with Preparation for Total Consecration and The Secret of the Rosary. I recently purchased the latter, and was moved by this part with regards to the Confraternity and praying the rosary:
And my dear Catholic people, even if you fail to say your rosary out of sheer carelessness or laziness, as long as you do not have any formal contempt for it, you do not sin absolutely speaking…
For more information about St. Louis de Montfort, head to Catholic Culture. Click here for more information about the Rosary Confraternity and how to enroll.
Two fantastic feast days on April 28th, no? Does anyone else have a devotion to St. Gianna Beretta Molla or St. Louis de Montfort? Do let us know in the comments!