Maybe you have heard the saying, “The way that you die is the way that you lived.” Gianna Molla was not a woman with great fame or titles. To be sure, she was very talented. She was a medical doctor in a time and place where women did not seek such an office. She was exceptional in the talents that God gave to her. However, it was her faith and sacrificial love that was truly extraordinary.
During the pregnancy of her fourth child, the doctors discovered a condition in her reproductive organs. To carry the child to term was to potentially endanger Gianna’s life. They gave her three choices: the direct procedure of abortion; a hysterectomy (to spare her life, not intending to kill the unborn child, yet the procedure would result in the effect of the child’s death); or bring the child to term (possibly causing Gianna’s death). Gianna said, “If you must decide between me and the child, do not hesitate: choose the child – I insist on it. Save him”.
The baby (actually a “her” named Gianna) was born. Sadly, this resulted in St. Gianna’s death a few days later. Over 40 years later, Gianna was made a saint. Her daughter, whose life was chosen over her mother, and Gianna’s husband were present at the canonization in St. Peter’s Square in Rome.
You may ask, “what makes a saint?” To be a saint is to be a lover and a hero. To love is to desire the good of the other. To be a hero is to go beyond what is required of you for the good of the other. For Gianna, choosing the second option was a totally permissible act. She would have done no wrong in choosing the hysterectomy. But instead, she chose to be not only a lover, but a hero. Does that sound familiar? One who chose to lay down His life for others, even though He wasn’t required? In this time of offenses against life, from conception to natural death, we need not only lovers, but heroes, like Saint Gianna.