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The Sisterhood of the Traveling Relics of St. Gianna (Video)

J-P Mauro - Caroline Fischer - published on 04/19/24

This budding community of devotees to St. Gianna Molla passes the saint's relics from person to person, with a presence on every continent.

There’s a new, budding community of St. Gianna Molla devotees that has come up with a novel and exciting new means of spreading their devotions all over the globe. Called the Sisterhood of the Traveling Relics of St. Gianna, this non-profit group is relatively new, but they already have a presence on every continent.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Relics sends relic cards of St. Gianna Molla to those in need of her intercession. Rather than become part of a collection, however, the cards are passed on after a time, sent to the next devotee who wishes to pray for assistance from the patron saint of mothers, physicians, and unborn children. Relic cards are similar to prayer cards, but there is a saintly relic attached, which in this case is a bit of St. Gianna’s dress; a relic of the second-class.

Born from devotion

The foundress of this community, who simply goes by Jen, explained to Aleteia that the organization was borne from her own devotion. Devastated after being diagnosed with severe endometriosis – a condition that makes it incredibly hard to have children – Jen was drawn to St. Gianna Molla soon after she was canonized, in 2006. Jen began to pray for St. Gianna Molla’s intercession and one year later she had her first daughter, whom she named Gianna

Nine months later, baby Gianna needed to visit a neurologist to address concerns about seizures. Jen and her husband messaged the priest who baptized their daughter to pray for her condition. The priest was on a flight back from Rome at the time and the man sitting next to him asked if he could pray for the child as well, but when the priest said the baby’s name was Gianna, he became truly surprised. Jen told Aleteia: 

“The man said, ‘Father, I was just at the dedication of St. Gianna’s shrine in Milan. Give this to the family.’ He proceeded to give the priest two relic cards, each with a piece of St. Gianna’s dress.”

A lost relic

Baby Gianna ended up being OK, but Jen held on to the relic cards, eventually giving one away and lending the second to other women in crisis pregnancy. In 2019, Jen lent the card to another woman, but it became lost. Distraught over the loss of a relic, she sent messages to St. Gianna Molla’s shrine in Milan, asking for prayers that the relic may be found. This card would not turn up, but something even greater occurred because of her request. 

Jen was contacted by St. Gianna Molla’s daughter, Gianna Emanuela, who was so touched by Jen’s sharing of her relic card that she sent 15 more relic cards by mail. As Jen tells it, when she first picked up the package of relic cards, she heard the phrase “Sisterhood of the Traveling Relics,” and thus her mission began to not only spread the devotion to St. Gianna Molla, but to create a prayer ministry that accompanies women in infertility, pregnancy, miscarriage or loss. 

Using Instagram, she recruited women who wished to join her in this mission, eventually growing her ranks to the 28 volunteers who help run the community today. After creating a US team that would organize the mailing and cover postage, she wanted to expand further. Jen contacted Gianna Emanuela again asking for more cards to create a presence on each continent and the saint’s daughter was happy to help. 

A worldwide sisterhood

Today the Sisterhood of the Traveling Relics of St. Gianna is present in Mexico, Croatia, India, Brazil, Mexico, Mozambique, UK, Ireland, Philippines, Australia and Lebanon, with holy cards printed in five languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Tagalog, and Arabic.

While the organization is not yet an official 501(c)(3), as its donations only amount to around $1500 a year, it is completely funded by donations. Learn more about how to donate or volunteer for this worthy budding faith community at the official website of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Relics of St. Gianna Molla.

Watch the video above to learn more.

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