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Ten years later following her beatification, on May 16, 2004, the same Holy Father canonized Gianna Beretta Molla, offering this new lay saint to the Church as a model of virtue, holiness, motherhood, professionalism, and devotion. In an age when marriage, family life, virtue and holiness are under assault from many sides, the life of Gianna Beretta Molla is a striking witness of hope and beauty.

Official Miracle

The miracle needed for her canonization was recognized formally December 20, 2003. In 2000, Elisabeth Comparini Arcolino, a mother of three, was 16 weeks pregnant with her fourth child when she sustained a tear in the placenta, resulting in the loss of her amniotic fluid. She was told the baby's chances of survival were nil.

By divine providence, Bishop Diogenes Silva Matthes of Franca, Brazil, was visiting a friend at the hospital. After being summoned to Arcolino’s room, Arcolino told him the doctor had advised her to have an abortion.

"You don’t kill life inside the mother," the bishop told her. "This is the time for Saint Gianna Beretta Molla to intercede for the life you are carrying." At home the bishop began praying, "The time for your canonization has arrived. Intercede to the Lord for the grace of a miracle and save the life of this little baby."

Despite the lack of amniotic fluid, Elisabeth delivered a healthy baby girl, Gianna Maria, by Caesarean section on May 31, 2000. The entire Arcolino family was present for the canonization.

The Ceremony

The evening before the canonization, pilgrims from all over the world gathered in the Vatican Gardens to pray the rosary in thanksgiving for Gianna Beretta Molla's canonization.

The following morning in St Peter's Square in front of over 100,000 of the faithful, Pope John Paul II canonized Gianna Beretta Molla and 5 additional saints. In attendance was Gianna's 91 year old husband, her 3 children, her granddaughter, her living siblings, medical patients of Gianna, friends, etc. The Holy See paid particular attention to the frail Pietro.

On Monday morning, the first mass of the new saint was celebrated at the Basilica of St. Paul, outside the walls followed by an audience with Pope John Paul II in St Peter's Square.

Pope John Paul II
Homily Canonization of Gianna Beretta Molla
May 15, 2004

Gianna Beretta Molla was a simple, but more than ever, significant messenger of divine love. In a letter to her future husband a few days before their marriage, she wrote: "Love is the most beautiful sentiment the Lord has put into the soul of men and women".

Following the example of Christ, who "having loved his own... loved them to the end" (Jn 13: 1), this holy mother of a family remained heroically faithful to the commitment she made on the day of her marriage. The extreme sacrifice she sealed with her life testifies that only those who have the courage to give of themselves totally to God and to others are able to fulfill themselves.

"The extreme sacrifice that sealed her life is a testimony as only a person who has the courage to give themselves completely to God and to their brothers and sisters can make. May our age discover once again through the example of Gianna Beretta Molla, the pure, chaste and fruitful beauty of conjugal love, lived as a response to the divine call!".

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