Monday, February 13, 2012
Conscious Immolation is the term Pope Paul VI, used to describe St. Gianna Beretta. Gianna Beretta is the next saint I want to post about in my collection of saints in good married life. Actually, it's Fr. Thomas Keven Kraft, OP, who's complying lives of saints and holy people, who are well married. He means they were happily married; as opposed to their endurance in marriages from hell. That alone would be reason for sainthood. No, our interest is those in average life, not celibates.
Gianna Francesca Beretta was born in Magenta, Italy, in 1922. She was born into a large family; she was the the tenth of thirteen children. Eventually, five siblings died. Her family was very devout--daily communicants. Three of her siblings became religious; Virginia became a Canossian sister, Giuseppe became a diocesan priest, and Enrico became a Capuchin missionary. While Gianna also considered a religious vocation, she discerned that she was called to married life and motherhood.
Always a good girl, she was an excellent student, and went on to become a doctor. She was dedicated to service of the poor and earned a reputation for being a good, kind, person, and also a kind, and good physician. She married Pietro Molla in 1955. He was a good Catholic, also.
Her first child was Pierluigi. Then came Maria Zita. Family was very important to Gianna. Her own immediate family and professional duties, did not isolate Gianna. She kept as close as contact as possible, with her own siblings. As you can imagine, she was extremely busy. Gianna almost lost her third baby in pregnancy, but in 1959, Laura Enrica Maria was born. There was a fourth pregnancy. This one turned out to be problematic. During Gianna's third month of pregnancy, she was diagnosed with a large ovarian cyst. The doctors recommended an abortion, or a hysterectomy, or a risky operation to remove the fibroma (which could kill both mother and child).
Which would you choose? (1) Abortion -- murder the baby (2) Hysterectomy -- murder the baby and negate all possibility of having more children (3) Only remove the fibroma -- however this may endanger the mother's life.
Looking at it this way, I can see where insurance companies would pressure doctors and hospital to take the easy way out. (1) is the Insurance Company's choice -- and unfortunately the choice made most often, in the USA, anyway. We are insurance driven.
But Gianna was not a company. She was a doctor who served people--human beings. Insurance companies be damned.
She chose humanity over business. As a doctor herself, she was very much aware of the risks (3) would entail, yet she prayed and was operated on to extract the fibroma. Some complications continued, yet a fourth child, Gianna Emanuela, was delivered by Caesarian section. It was this choice that Pope Paul VI was referring to, when he used the term "conscious immolation." Gianna consciously chose to risk her life, for the life of another. Jesus taught her that.
Her cause for beatification began in 1970. The miracle that was accepted for her beatification was the cure of a young mother giving birth in 1977. She had a septicemic infection. BTW, this hospital was in Brazil, and the very hospital that Gianna's brother, Fr. Alberto OFM Cap., was promoter of.
The miracle recognized for canonization involved a mother, who when she was only 16 weeks pregnant, sustained a tear in her placenta that drained her womb of amniotic fluid. There is no way a baby in the womb, can survive without amniotic fluid. Through praying for Gianna Molla's intercession, a healthy baby was delivered in normal time.
Gianna was canonized by Pope John Paul II, on May 16, 2004. Her last child, Gianna Emanuela was present, along with her father, Pietro. Gianna Emanuela, herself, is also a physician.
h/t Father Thomas Kevin Kraft, O.P. Research on the Lives of Well married Saints and Holy People and the Vatican News Service http://www.vatican.va/news_services/liturgy/saints/ns_lit_doc_20040516_beretta-molla_en.html