Love in the form of spiritual motherhood is a gift that the Virgin Mary left for the world. St. Gianna Beretta Molla provided that spiritual motherhood to patients and her children.

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted blesses a stained glass window depicting St. Gianna Berretta Molla at the Diocesan Pastoral Center’s Virginia G. Piper Chapel, which is dedicated to Blessed John Paul II. Local Catholic Armando Ruiz donated the window in honor of his late wife, Peggy, who died in April. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted blesses a stained glass window depicting St. Gianna Beretta Molla at the Diocesan Pastoral Center’s Virginia G. Piper Chapel, which is dedicated to Blessed John Paul II. Local Catholic Armando Ruiz donated the window in honor of his late wife, Peggy, who died in April. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)

It was also seen in the daily work of Peggy Ruiz, even before the late Phoenix mother of six stepchildren and five biological children was spiritually united with the saint during a mission trip a couple of years ago.

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted blessed and dedicated a 5-foot-tall stained glass window depicting the patron saint of mothers, physicians and unborn children Dec. 4 in The Virginia G. Piper Chapel at the Diocesan Pastoral Center.

The window is in honor of Ruiz, who died in April following a long battle with breast cancer. Some 100 people of all ages and ethnicities attended the dedication Mass.

Bishop Olmsted shared four signs that he said showed St. Gianna’s heroic love for God during her life. Armando Ruiz said the signs could also describe his late wife.

St. Gianna had an intensely eucharistic love, the bishop said. It was so much, that she patterned her life on the priesthood and sacrifice of Christ. Peggy, too, was devoted to the Eucharist. She and her husband went to daily Mass at St. Mary’s Basilica, receiving Communion together more than 1,000 times.

St. Gianna, who continued a painful pregnancy in spite of a benign uterine tumor,  remained ready to accept suffering out of love for Christ, the bishop said.

“Jesus doesn’t like a lukewarm Christian or partial generosity,” he said. “The best way to sacrifice is to adore God’s will every day… True sacrifice is to accept with true love, with true joy, the cross God is sending us.”

Armando said his wife lived with cancer for 10 years, four of them in stage 4, according to her obituary. She knew she would die of the disease, yet still stayed courageous enough to live, Ruiz said.

“She carried that cross also,” Ruiz said. “That’s so hard, psychologically. At the same time, she had to give the kids hope that there was life after.”

She was known to care for ailing animals, helped establish the first Girl Scout troop at the NFL’s Youth Education Town, a college preparatory academy where she taught and was known as “Mother to All.”

Peggy, a convert, encountered the faith through her father-in-law and Mary’s Ministries, a lay Catholic organization that trains leaders to conduct spiritual workshops. In her final year of life, the couple founded the Missionaries of Mary, which inspires and teaches Catholics to evangelize.

Peggy and some of the kids were on an evangelization mission in Brazil a couple of years ago when they met Elizabeth Comparini Arcolino, the woman whose miraculous healing of her and her unborn child became the second miracle needed for St. Gianna’s canonization. She gave the Ruiz family a statue of St. Gianna. Armando brought the statue to the dedication.

Bishop Olmsted said it was fitting that the St. Gianna Beretta Molla window honors a loving wife and mother within the diocese. Blessed Pope John Paul II canonized St. Gianna May 16, 2004.

“Every window in here eventually will be filled with images of saints that he canonized or beatified,” the bishop said.

Inspiring windows

Nine of the 14 stained glass windows are already installed with those depicting Padre Pio and Blessed Father Junipero Serra reserved. The windows depicting St. Rose Philippine Duchesne and Blessed Fra Angelico are still available for sponsorship. The cost is $10,000 each.

Americare Hospice has made a partial gift toward completing the first of four upper windows in the chapel. That window, poised above the altar, will depict Blessed Pope John II at his writing desk. Stenciling in the dome, around the windows and murals of the four Gospel writers will complete the chapel’s artwork. Daprato Rigali Studios out of Chicago is designing and installing the windows.

“We’re very excited about moving ahead with the completion of the chapel,” Missie D’Aunoy, director for the diocesan Office of Stewardship, said.

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Artwork in The Virginia G. Piper Chapel

The 140-seat chapel, located at the Diocesan Pastoral Center, holds Mass weekdays for diocesan staff and visiting groups attending meetings and conferences. It’s also open to local Catholic organizations.

To sponsor a remaining stained glass window or other architectural elements, call Missie (602) 354-2216.

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