Husband of St. Gianna Molla Died Holy Saturday at 97

It’s not front page news, even in Catholic media, but it ought to be. We’ve had enough of the bad news during this Lent. Pietro Molla was a remarkable Catholic who lived a life of sacrifice along with his wife during their marriage and for almost fifty years after her death in 1962. Reading the account of Mr. Molla’s life (Zenit News website) written by Rev. Thomas Rosica, CSB, a family friend, I was filled with admiration for the whole family. It was a wonderful grace for the Church to have a wife and mother canonized. Of course, Gianna was not the first such woman to be canonized. And only God knows how many holy women died in childbirth rather than compromise their openness to life.  What made Mrs. Molla’s case different was that by 1962, with the advances in medical technology, she (a doctor herself) was fully informed that to carry her pre-born baby to term with her cancerous condition would cause her own death. So, she refused to save her own life by having her baby aborted. Her husband made this sacrifice together with her. In a certain sense it may have been more difficult for him to make this sacrifice than the mother because a baby in the womb is so naturally bound to the mother. Even by nature the mother’s instinct is to put the baby’s welfare above her own. Mr. Molla was going well beyond nature in making the sacrifice of his wife, it was a sacrifice perhaps even more supernatural than that made by his wife. I say, perhaps, because no one can know for sure, only the Author of grace Himself. In any event Father Rosica wants to see the cause of Pietro Molla entered for canonization, as is already the case with Gianna’s brother, Fra Alberto Beretta, who was a Capuchin missionary in Brazil. Saint Gianna’s daughter Laura made a very interesting connection concerning her parents and Holy Saturday. The feast day God chose to take her father was also the day that her mother gave birth to baby Gianna Emmanuela for whose life she gave her own one week later.

As I read Father Rosica’s beautiful recollections and comments, I could not help but think of a family I spent a couple of days with three weeks ago, the family of Ignatius Cardinal Kung, who is most certainly the “right material” for sainthood. The occasion was the tenth anniversary of his death. I was so impressed by the zeal and joy of this family, and the heroism of many of those I met.  Two family members had suffered twenty-five years each in Communist labor camps for their Faith and loyalty to the pope. The Cardinal’s niece, Margaret, and her husband, Ignatius Chu, were the two of whom I speak. I was astonished to learn that Ignatius Chu has five brothers who are all Jesuit priests. If one were to ask me what a saint looks like, I would tell them, after first introducing him to a certain priest I know, to go to Connecticut and meet Ignatius and Margaret.

Father Rosica tribute can be read here.