Last night was like a dream. I can still hardly believe I experienced what I did.
Dr. Gianna Emanuela Molla is the youngest daughter of Saint Gianna Beretta Molla - the Saint who gave her life in order that her daughter (named after her) could live, when she was given the choice between dying herself from the tumor in her pelvis or having an abortion. Gianna Emanuela has never been to the United States before this visit, and generally does not do speaking engagements.
But here she was, in PA last night for a Mass celebrated by Father Frank Pavone from Priests for Life. We had been eagerly awaiting this evening since we first heard about it at Saint Gianna's Feast Day Mass in April.
After Mass, Dr Gianna Molla gave a beautiful testimony, in her wonderful thick Italian accented high-pitched voice, about her mother and father. (Perhaps my favorite part of which was her constant reference to her mother as "Saint Mami Gianna.") Before the recessional hymn, Father reminded us that Gianna would be meeting and greeting us in the cafeteria, and that relics of Saint Gianna would be available for veneration at the front of the church, including a 1st class relic (her hair). DH leaned over to me during the recessional to say, "Something tells me we should go straight to the cafeteria." And so, edging our way through the truckloads of people already in line to venerate the relics, we went straight to the cafeteria. After all... Gianna Emanuela is the flesh of Saint Gianna's flesh - isn't speaking with her more exciting than touching her mother's hair??
Moments later, Gianna Emanuela came through with her escorts (the Presidents of the Saint Gianna Society and the Gianna Physicians Guild). We were inches from her, and just as we turned to go get on line to meet her and speak with her, a beeline came buzzing by us, cutting right ahead of us. There must have been 25-30 people who just zoomed right in front of us. But we were still pretty close, and I thanked DH for suggesting we go meet her first, because soon the line was triple the size, and it kept on growing.
As the first 25-30 people all introduced themselves to Gianna Emanuela, I practiced what I planned to say (in Italian). I wanted very much to speak to Gianna in her native language, which is how I often pray for her mother's intercession, too. But I haven't spoken in Italian in a long time, so I was practicing my grammar in my head. The first few people were STILL speaking to her, and posing for pictures with her, after about 10 minutes on line. It was at this point that the President of the Society made an announcement that we would have to cut the meet and greet short, and that he would lead Gianna Emanuela down the line to shake our hands briefly and say hello, but that we were to please not engage her in conversation or pose for pictures. She had had a long day of traveling, after all, and it was already after 10:00pm (4:00am Italy time).
I was seriously bummed. I had wanted to primarily ask her to please pray for us, and ask for her mother's intercession on our behalf. I also planned to tell her that I was so proud to work for the Gianna Center for Women's Health, and how important her mother had been in my own life. Now, I would have to settle for a handshake.
As she came down the line, suddenly the line sort of mashed into a huddle of people, and her escort was really moving her... so much so, that she passed right over me and instead shook DH's hand who was standing right behind me. I heard him say, in his practiced Italian, "Molto piacere," and then something inside of me nudged me to speak up. Wait, let me re-phrase. My stubborn Italian grandmother nudged me to speak up :) And so, I did:
"Dottore! Le possiamo chiedere per i preghieri, per un bambino?"
(Doctor! May we ask you for your prayers, for a baby?)
At this I saw Gianna Emanuela's eyes widen as she recognized her native language, and she turned to me and reached out her hands to hold mine. She looked directly into my eyes and said, in the most beautiful voice I've ever heard, in a slow, deliberate way:
"By dee greiss ov mai motter, I weel pray for yu."
(By the grace of my mother, I will pray for you.)
Immediately there were tears in my eyes, and I must have said "Mille grazie" about 5 times as her escort had to gently lead her back down the line and get her away from the crazy blonde American girl speaking Italian.
DH turned to me as we left the line and said, "I don't think I've ever heard you speak faster than that!" Clearly the Holy Spirit (and my grandmother, who didn't speak Italian herself on earth but understood it) was working through me to get that message across, and to get Gianna's attention. Normally, I would not be one to speak up in that situation, but I am so so glad that I did, because that is a moment I will never, ever forget.
And yet one more huge blessing to come from this cross of infertility Without this cross, I never would have been where I was last night, never would have had that amazing experience, never would have acquired the prayers of a SAINT'S DAUGHTER! I am so blessed.