Thursday, April 29, 2010

Gianna Beretta Molla

The story of Gianna Beretta Molla, canonized a saint by the Roman Catholic Church in 2004, was puzzling to me when I read it several years ago. I wasn't a Catholic at the time and the whole process of sainthood was mystifying to begin with, but even more so in the case of Gianna, a 20th Century female, a mother and a doctor. Gianna Molla died in 1962 after refusing an abortion knowing that carrying her fourth pregnancy to term would likely save her child’s life, but would result in her own death. And I had thought saints were men who all lived in the Middle Ages.

The reason I mention her now is because a Catholic women's health care center has recently opened here in New York City, and it is named after Gianna Molla. Gianna- The Health Care Center for Women, the first authentically Catholic women's health center in this area, is dedicated to following Catholic teachings in all aspects of providing health care to women of any faith. You can read more about the center here.

One does not become a saint overnight in the Catholic Church. The process by which sainthood is conferred is lengthy and many-layered, initiated by a bishop who seeks the beatification of some individual who first and foremost must have exhibited the Christian virtues of faith, hope and charity as well as the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance. At later steps of the process, the individual to be granted sainthood must have at least two miracles attributed to them. Gianna Molla, for all intents and purposes a regular person, met all these requirements. Surely an amazing story. Read more about her here.

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