On Holy Saturday after our Easter Vigil, one of our parishioners Bill Provencher put into my hand a copy of a Polish Catholic magazine in which his family was featured about a great favor they had received through the intercession of (then-Blessed) Gianna Beretta Molla, the “martyr-mother”: the safe-andhealthy birth of their youngest child Elizabeth “Biz” Gianna. I knew their story since I had been part of the prayer-chain at the time it had happened, and I was most moved to see the story reported on and publicized in another country no less.
Gianna Beretta Molla died on Easter Saturday, April 28th, 1962, in the town of Magenta, near Milan, Italy. She was 38 years old. A week before, on Holy Saturday, she had given birth to a healthy baby girl, her fourth child, whom she named Emanuela. But the mother, who was also a practicing physician, knew she was dying. Months before she had foregone a cancer treatment which would have destroyed the life of her unborn child.
In 2000 Karen Provencher fell ill with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The family and their friends prayed to Bl. Gianna Molla, beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1994, for a healing. The treatment was successful, but the doctors warned that Karen should not become pregnant for at last two years following this treatment. Two months after the treatment, however, Karen did become pregnant. In the article, Bill Provencher gives his testimony:
We asked blessed Gianna Beretta Molla to intercede before God and to watch over my wife’s life, and now also our child’s. We chose blessed Gianna because she was also a mother, and she also suffered from cancer as my wife did, and so she would understand the problem, comfort us and protect our child. The first moments of this unexpected situation were full of surprise and anxiety, but our faith in God let us consider the child to have a very special reason for coming into this world. The doctors were painting horrible scenarios for us…Elisabeth Gianna was born healthy on August 1st, 2001, despite all opposite expectations. The doctors were stunned. It was impossible, or at least it was a one-in-a-million chance. Today our youngest daughter is twelve, she is happy and cheerful. We consider her a special gift from God. The memories of those days have become distant and hazy, but we are constantly aware the God in His goodness unceasingly leads us through hard times. We thank God every day for Elizabeth and our whole family.