St. Gianna Molla is depicted with her children in this stained-glass window found in the Diocese of Phoenix Diocesan Pastoral Center. A physician herself, represented by the caduceus, a symbol of medicine, on her lapel and a stethoscope in her pocket. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)

April 28

Born near Milan, Italy, Gianna was one of 13 children in a deeply Catholic family. She wed Pietro Molla in 1955; they had three children while she continued to work as a physician.

When she was pregnant with her fourth child, she was diagnosed with a serious fibroma on her uterus. It was suggested that she have an abortion to save her own life, but she chose surgery as the least dangerous option to her unborn child. Although the operation was successful she continued to have severe pain and told her husband Pietro if he has to decide between the two, “save the baby.” She died seven days after giving birth in 1962.

Her husband and three of her children were present in 2004 when the pope proclaimed her a saint.

“My mama and the saints lead us all to the Lord and are a powerful help to us,” recalled Gianna Emanuela Molla, the baby her mother saved when she died, during a visit to Phoenix last year. She is the patroness of the pro-life movement.