Pierluigi Molla visits Nativity of Our Lord Parish in Warminster to talk about his mother, St. Gianna

By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer

WARMINSTER – The son of a saint visited the church of Nativity of Our Lord Parish in Warminster, Bucks County, Monday, May 10.

Pierluigi Molla, 53, the son of the late St. Gianna and Pietro Molla of Italy, visited the parish’s shrine to his mother and spoke with school children at an afternoon assembly and with parishioners after an evening Mass.

“I’m really honored to be here in this church,” Pierluigi Molla said in his address to Nativity’s fifth through eighth grade classes.

He asked the children if they knew of any saints who liked to ski or drive a car.

His mother, who also liked mountaineering and playing the piano, was one such saint, Pierluigi Molla said.

At the same time, she was a “mom who took care of me and my sisters … as your mother takes care of you,” he told the children.

St. Gianna Beretta Molla, a mother and pediatrician, was canonized a saint of the Church by Pope John Paul II in May 2004.

Born in 1922 near Milan, Italy, Gianna Beretta, the 10th of 13 children, was raised in a devout Catholic family. In 1955, she wed Pietro Molla, an engineer.

Fourteen months later, they welcomed their first child, Pierluigi. Maria Zita was born in 1957 and Laura in 1959.

But in late 1961, when Gianna was pregnant with their fourth child, doctors discovered a large ovarian tumor that required surgery. Surgical procedures at the time called for the removal of her entire uterus, which would have aborted the two-month-old fetus. She insisted surgeons only remove what was necessary and allow the baby to live and reach term.

Gianna Emanuela was born in April 1962; St. Gianna, at age 39, died one week after giving birth to her.

Pierluigi Molla also shared with the children a prayer his mother wrote to the Blessed Mother.

“It was nice of him to come all the way from Italy to talk about his mom,” said Aidan Clinton, 14, an eighth-grader at Nativity School. “It was a good experience for us to know what she was like as a regular person, not just as a saint.”

Allesandra Grispino, 13, a seventh-grader, and her 11-year-old sister Aerianna, a sixth-grader, were also among the students in attendance at the afternoon assembly at Nativity of Our Lord Church.

The two girls, who are the oldest of Vincent and Kerri Grispino’s seven children, were particularly grateful to make the acquaintance of the son of a saint. According to them, the family has been praying to St. Gianna since shortly after the April 2008 arrival of their three youngest siblings – triplets Vincent, Nicolas and Ava – who were born two months premature.

A week after her birth, Ava became ill and was given a 10 percent chance of survival, according to Allesandra. The family prayed to St. Gianna. Today, Ava’s health continues to improve, her sister said.

Allesandra selected Gianna as her confirmation name last year – a name that, as a nod to the church’s shrine, has become popular among many girls of the parish.

The Grispino family also includes 9-year-old Michael, a third-grader at Nativity School, and 6-year-old Angelina, a first-grader there.

Father Angelo R. Citino, pastor of Nativity of Our Lord, said Pierluigi Molla’s visit honors the parish. “It’s a real blessing,” he said, “and a grace.”

For more information about St. Gianna and the shrine at 625 W. Street Road in Warminster, visit the web site of the Society of St. Gianna Beretta Molla at www.saintgianna.org or call the parish at 215-675-1925.

Catholic News Service contributed to this article.
CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at 215-587-2468 or cchicoin@adphila.org.