The daughter of a 20th-century saint is opening an international pilgrimage center in Springfield, Illinois. Dr. Gianna Emanuela Molla, who is the daughter of St. Gianna Beretta Molla (1922-1962), is opening the center to promote the sanctity of the family and the protection of all human life.
Effingham Radio reports that the center will be named The St. Gianna Beretta Molla and Pietro Molla International Center for Family and Life. In the announcement video, featured above, Dr. Molla noted that Springfield was selected as the location for a number of reasons. First of which was that Springfield’s Bishop Thomas John Paprocki is “a very good, faithful bishop and one who staunchly defends innocent life.
Molla went on to explain that the center dedicated to the Italian saint will be built in America, where Catholic have shown a strong devotion to St. Gianna Molla. In this regard, Springfield is a prime location for the center, as it is situated in the middle of the country. It will be in driving distance from both Chicago and St. Louis, where international airports can accommodate foreign pilgrims.
According to My Journal Courier, Dr. Molla said in a statement:
“I learned from my saint mom and holy dad to have deep faith and unwavering confidence in divine providence,” Gianna Molla said. “The establishment of this international center is one of those times I am trusting in God to show me the way and all those who are involved in the project. I am filled with humility to start this international center so we can promote and help families grow holier together.”
The St. Gianna Beretta Molla and Pietro Molla International Center for Family and Life is an ambitious project that will most likely take years to construct. It will contain a replica of the home that St. Gianna and her husband Pietro shared in Italy, painstakingly reproduced from photographs. This reproduction will serve as a museum to the Molla family that will educate on the saint’s life and help spur devotions.
Along with a pilgrimage center they will also replicate the original Chapel of Our Lady of Good Counsel, where St. Gianna worshiped. The chapel will have an attached rectory as the original chapel does, in Ponte Nuovo of Magenta. The chapel will be adjoined to a larger Shrine Church, which will be for larger functions.
The center is expected to be able to host tens of thousands of pilgrims each year.
St. Gianna Beretta Molla
St. Gianna Beretta Molla was an Italian mother of four, who died due to pregnancy complications which forced her to choose between her own life and her baby’s. In 1962, while carrying her fourth child, a fibroma, a tumor that can develop in the uterus, was identified early on. The diagnosis suggested that the only way to ensure Gianna’s safety was to perform an abortion and total historectomy.
Gianna was completely opposed to an abortion. She made it clear to her doctors that the pregnancy, which was very painful for her, would continue and that if the delivery became problematic, they were to prioritize her baby’s safety. Gianna gave birth to a healthy baby girl, Gianna Emanuela, but died from complications of the delivery just eight days later.
St. Gianna Molla was beatified on Mother’s Day 1994 and canonized by Pope St. John Paul II, in 2004. She is honored as the patron saint of mothers, doctors, wives, families, and Magenta, Lombardy where she was born.
At her beatification, JPII commemorated St. Gianna Molla, calling her:
“A woman of exceptional love, an outstanding wife and mother, she gave witness in her daily life to the demanding values of the Gospel. By holding up this woman as an exemplar of Christian perfection, we would like to extol all those high-spirited mothers of families who give themselves completely to their family, who suffer in giving birth, who are prepared for every labor and every kind of sacrifice, so that the best they have can be given to others.”