It is impossible for Gianna Emanuela Molla, daughter of Saint Gianna, to think of the holy life of her mother without remembering that of her father, because entwined in the heart of her “holy mother” shines the example of her “holy Dad,” whose humble and heroic words and actions indelibly shaped his life.
“Like my mother, he too came from a great family and was blessed with two deeply Christian parents,” she said in a written interview with the Register. “Certainly, the roots of his holiness are in the origin of his family, and I would also like to spread the knowledge of my very dear and very humble paternal grandparents, whom I love deeply.”
After the heroic death of Saint Gianna Beretta Molla in April 1962 – when she sacrificed her own health and life to give birth to their youngest child, Gianna Emanuela – Pietro asked that attention be focused only on his wife.
But after his own death in April 2010, at nearly 98, that same child, Gianna Emanuela, began to see God’s holy will as he revealed his father’s virtues to the world.
She began to work meticulously to prepare her parents’ letters to each other for publication.
“I remember that at first I feared that the publication of his letters to mum might violate his noble and pure soul, so God-fearing, and the deepest feelings he had in his very big heart” , Gianna Emanuela mentioned. “So I became convinced that his letters could do a lot of good to a lot of souls.”
In April 2016, she said, the Holy Spirit gave her inspiration to include her father’s life and name in the upcoming St. Gianna Beretta Molla and Pietro Molla International Center for Family and Care. life ; it is a project that Pietro had, years earlier, helped to conceive. It’s a decision she’s sure her mother also liked, as the Mollas’ marriage was a blessed union.
A saint testifies by letters
The couple’s letters illustrate how they supported each other in all things, rooted in faith.
In a letter that Saint Gianna wrote to Pietro on September 13, 1955, about a week before their wedding, she said: “My dear Pietro, I am sure that you will always make me as happy as I am now and that the Lord listens to your prayers, coming from a heart that has always loved and served him holy. Pietro, how much I have to learn from you! You are such a great example to me, and I thank you for that.
She wrote to him again, during their married life, on February 22, 1958, saying, “As I have told you other times, your faith and piety are a great example to me. I want to learn to pray like you, dear Pietro.
And on June 5, 1959, she wrote: “…you are truly the dearest and most affectionate little husband, a holy daddy, not of gold, but of diamonds, the largest and most precious that there is. have on this earth!
“My mother’s words have even greater value now that she has been canonized a saint of the universal Church,” said Gianna Emanuela, “and I wholeheartedly agree with her!
memories of a girl
Gianna Emanuela, who speaks frequently about her parents, also told the Register, “My parents’ powerful example and life-teaching also help me in this effort, and in particular: their great persevering faith, their and their charity; their complete confidence in Our Lord; their boundless and persevering confidence in his divine Providence; their intense prayer life and continuous prayers of gratitude to the Lord and the Virgin Mary; their deep humility; their great spirit of sacrifice; their heroic acceptance of God’s holy will, always, even when it’s hard to accept.
Because her mother died when she was just a week old, she explained to the record: “According to [God’s] Will, I didn’t get to know my mother personally; however, the Lord, in his infinite goodness, granted me the extraordinary grace of living with my father the longest: 48 years of my life. … All these years I have been able to see his example with my own eyes; it was so important to me, a real blessing!
“While living with him, I completely understood why my holy mother looked up to him, and learned what it means to be a ‘saint of everyday life.’ His life and writings reveal that his soul was totally immersed in God; that his unwavering faith permeated and strengthened every aspect of his life. … He left me an extraordinary spiritual heritage, through his Christian and moral virtues.
She added, “Everything he taught me with his living example stays with me and helps me a lot in this effort, especially: his great spirit of prayer; his deepest humility; his great enthusiasm, his will, his courage and his foresight; his infinite patience; his magnificent kindness and generosity; his calm and serenity, even in very difficult situations or in the presence of problems to be resolved; his exemplary spirit of service. I can testify that throughout his long life he did most of his enormous work as a volunteer, without receiving any money.
A Cardinal Offers Evidence
Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, who met Pietro several times before his death, also considers Pietro’s virtue worthy of reflection.
“I had the good fortune to visit him twice and I say, without hesitation, that I had a very strong impression of his holiness,” he told the Register, noting that Pietro died on Holy Saturday.
“I knew even before that that he was a very refined man, a very intelligent man, and that he had kept all the writings, his own and [St.] Gianna’s,” as well as items from their family home, he told the Register. “It was clear that the life they had together, which wasn’t very long because she died young…was a sacred marriage, and he wanted to honor her in every way possible.”
Cardinal Burke said it was a privilege to work with Gianna Emanuela to share the testimony of her parents’ lives. “[Pietro] wouldn’t have wanted to show off – he was a very humble, very reserved person – but he wanted the great gift of their marriage to be better known.
Their union, he says, reminds him of the parents of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, Sts. Louis and Zélie Martin, “and how clear it was that they were the instruments by which God brought Saint Thérèse to become so heroically a saint”.
Recalling a shrine dedicated to the Holy Family in Kalisz, Poland, he said: “The family, as we see perfectly in the Holy Family, reflects the unity of love in the Holy Trinity”, and in marriage , spouses should help each other to become holy, as evidenced in particular by the love letters of Saint Gianna and Pietro, which “are such a wonderful expression of purity of heart and total cooperation with God in their love for each other and in the formation of their families”.
The Mollas attest to the graces of marriage, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church notes: “The sacrament of marriage is intended to perfect the love of the couple and to strengthen its indissoluble unity. By this grace, they ‘help each other to attain holiness in their married life and in the reception and education of their children’” (1641).
Other religious weigh
Other witnesses of holy matrimony also offer their testimony.
Gianna Emanuela mentioned that Pope Saint Paul VI met her father seven times, both before and after becoming pope.
Father Agostino Cerri, parish priest of Ponte Nuovo, the small Italian village where Gianna and Pietro spent the six and a half years of their married and family life, wrote to Gianna Emanuela in April 2013, assuring her that the pope had “expressed his admiration for your holy parents on different occasions for me.
Gianna Emanuela highlighted the volume of correspondence. “Many of the letters that my father received – for example, those from my uncle, Father Alberto, my mother’s brother, who is now a ‘Servant of God’ – are beautiful and spiritually very rich.”
Father Alberto Molla, she recalls, wrote to Pietro on January 1, 1981 about the family’s cultural crisis, “the most important of all other problems”, and how the Mollas’ marriage could serve as a witness.
“It is God Himself who wants your example and Gianna’s to be known,” he wrote. “Let us thank the Lord for so much goodness in choosing you as his co-workers. It is a question of doing the family apostolate, the most urgent, the most necessary, everywhere in the world…”
An American priest and devotee of Saint Gianna, Father Gino Dalpiaz, a Scalabrinian who served in several locations in New York, Chicago and Rome, wrote to Gianna Emanuela after reading her written review, “Gianna, Smile of God”: “Without your father, your mother would not have become the woman, the saint that she has become. He would have missed something truly precious and unique. In Saint Gianna Beretta Molla we can feel the influence of her “dear Pedrin”. Your father was truly a holy man.
After Pietro’s death, says Gianna Emanuela, more religious and laity came forward, writing to her about how the Lord had blessed her “with two ‘holy parents’; that my parents are two ‘holy spouses’, and that they pray to them and ask for intercession.
“I collect a growing number of testimonies of my father’s reputation as a holy man, from different countries of the world, even from as far away as Australia,” said Gianna Emanuela, which “are a great consolation to me and a another confirmation that my holy mama was absolutely right [about Pietro]!”
The publication of The journey of our love: the letters of Saint Gianna Beretta Molla and Pietro Mollaemphasized the sanctity of her mother and helped shine a light on her father’s “great personality and spirituality,” Gianna Emanuela said.
After meeting Gianna Emanuela in the United States in September 2017, a woman wrote to her to share how “blessed and deeply touched” she was by his presence and speech and how it had encouraged her “to keep fighting for my family and the salvation of the souls of my husband and my children,” as Gianna Emanuela shared with the Register.
“I knew your mother’s biography, but for the first time I listened more to your father’s,” the woman wrote, “and that day I realized the role your father played in the holiness of your mother.”
The woman added, “Our husbands need your father’s example! … He has found a balance between his successful career, his family and, most surprisingly, his faith.
The letter helped Gianna Emanuela better understand the impact of her father’s life, she said, “not only for me and my family, but for everyone, especially for men; his example gives hope and comfort. She added: “He followed the example of Saint Joseph, to whom he was so devoted.
Since the publication of her parents’ letters, she says, a growing number of people around the world have asked her to open up her father’s cause for possible beatification and canonization.
She remembered her father’s words years ago about his mother’s cause, which led to his canonization in 2004: “God has put the right people in the right place at the right time…and I hope with all my heart and pray to Our Lord that the same will happen for my holy dad.
As Saint Gianna herself said, “Love is the most beautiful feeling that the Lord has placed in the souls of men and women”.
In response to requests, a private devotional prayer to Pietro has been prepared and received ecclesiastical approval, his daughter Gianna Emanuela Molla said, for the benefit of those who wish to participate in promoting his glorification on behalf of the Church. . The prayer is here, in a letter of Cardinal Raymond Burke.
To learn more about Gianna Emanuela Molla’s efforts in North Dakota, read this related story by Roxane Salonen.