Dreams of Brazil

Gianna Beretta Molla was born on October 4, 1922. In 1942 she began studying medicine in Milan and was a member of the St Vincent de Paul Society, serving the needy. She specialised in paediatrics at the University of Milan.

Gianna had always intended to join her brother, a missionary priest in Brazil, so she could offer her medical expertise to help poor women. But because she suffered from ill health she remained in Italy and discerned a vocation to marriage.

In December 1954, Gianna met Pietro Molla, an engineer who worked in her office. They were engaged by April and married the following September. Gianna once wrote to Pietro: “Love is the most beautiful sentiment that the Lord has put into the soul of men and women.”

A life-or-death decision

Between 1956 and 1959, Gianna gave birth to three children. In 1961 she became pregnant with her fourth child and was in incredible pain by the second month of pregnancy.

Doctors discovered that she had a tumour in her uterus. This left Gianna with three options: abort her baby in order to save her life and fertility, a hysterectomy (which would also mean the baby dying), or removal of the tumour, which might save the life of her baby. Gianna chose the latter and pleaded with surgeons to save her child’s life over her own. On April 21, Gianna Emanuela was delivered by C-section. But Gianna Beretta Molla died a week later.

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