St. Gianna, ‘Beautiful Witness of Hope,’ Offers Lessons Ahead of National Eucharistic Pilgrimage and Jubilee 2025

Italian saint canonized 20 years ago testifies to a life well lived, walking with Christ.

Banner bearing the image of St. Gianna Molla holding daughter Mariolina hangs in St. Peter’s Square on May 16, 2004, the day of her canonization.
Banner bearing the image of St. Gianna Molla holding daughter Mariolina hangs in St. Peter’s Square on May 16, 2004, the day of her canonization. (photo: Courtesy of Gianna Emanuela Molla / Courtesy of Gianna Emanuela Molla)

Sometimes it’s hard to have hope.

Living hopefully can be difficult ...

when there seems to be more good than evil in the world;
when sickness and death befall kind souls; 
when waiting hurts our hearts;
when prayers seem to go unanswered; and
when others seem abundantly blessed and our own blessings seem scarce. 

 Even so, I cling to hope because Hope is a Person: Jesus Christ.

He shows up as only he does. We see him make a way as only he can. We know without a doubt that the resolution of an anxiety-producing or difficult or seemingly impossible situation was the work of the Fount of All Holiness. We recognize Our Lord’s unmistakable hallmark: peace.

Those moments of consolation see us through the difficult ones. They bolster our hope, just as Our Lady does.

I’ve been reflecting on all of this, not just because I wrote a book on hope, but because Pope Francis has dedicated the Jubilee 2025 to hope.

As the Pope reminds the faithful in his papal bull about the jubilee

“Christian hope does not deceive or disappoint because it is grounded in the certainty that nothing and no one may ever separate us from God’s love.”


He underscores that Mother Mary is our hopeful guide:

“Hope finds its supreme witness in the Mother of God. In the Blessed Virgin, we see that hope is not naive optimism but a gift of grace amid the realities of life. … At the foot of the cross, she witnessed the passion and death of Jesus, her innocent son. Overwhelmed with grief, she nonetheless renewed her ‘fiat,’ never abandoning her hope and trust in God. … In the travail of that sorrow, offered in love, Mary became our Mother, the Mother of Hope. It is not by chance that popular piety continues to invoke the Blessed Virgin as Stella Maris, a title that bespeaks the sure hope that, amid the tempests of this life, the Mother of God comes to our aid, sustains us and encourages us to persevere in hope and trust.”

And as the Pope concludes: “Let us even now be drawn to this hope! Through our witness, may hope spread to all those who anxiously seek it. May the way we live our lives say to them in so many words: ‘Hope in the Lord! Hold firm, take heart and hope in the Lord!’ (Psalm 27:14). May the power of hope fill our days, as we await with confidence the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and glory, now and forever.”


As a devotee of St. Gianna Molla, I look to her hope-filled witness as well today, the 20th anniversary of her canonization. Pope St. John Paul II called her a “significant messenger of divine love.”

I have interviewed her youngest daughter, Dr. Gianna Emanuela Molla, before — a privilege! — and she graciously shared her reflections and photos for this blessed occasion via email:

“I don’t really know how I can thank the Lord adequately and enough for having blessed me so very much with such immeasurable grace: to be able to attend, with my most beloved holy Dad by my side — [he] was 92 at that time — and with my siblings and other dear ones, my most beloved Saint Mom’s Canonization, on May 16, 2004, 20 years ago, by Pope Saint John Paul II, in the Square of Saint Peter Basilica in Rome! What an unforgettable day!”

St. Gianna canonization 2004
The faithful gather in St. Peter’s Square on May 16, 2004.(Photo: Courtesy of Gianna Emanuela Molla)


Molla canonization 2004
Gianna Emauela Molla and her father, Pietro Molla, greet Pope John Paul II at the canonization for St. Gianna and other new saints on May 16, 2004.(Photo: Courtesy of Gianna Emauela Molla)

She added, “I think that my Saint Mom and my holy Dad with her, since they continue to be ‘one heart and one soul’ also in Heaven, are a beautiful witness of hope for the faithful, especially in the world today, because, through their exemplary lives, they testify, on one side, to the beauty and holiness of the Vocation of Marriage and Family according to God’s project, and to the sacredness of every human being, from the conception until the last breath, and, on the other, that ‘the Way of the Cross’ is certainly the right way we must follow, to be able to attain, one day, to enjoy the joy of Paradise, the joy of the vision of God, forever.”

Christ our Hope will be with us in a particularly blessed way as the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage kicks off this weekend and as we celebrate the birthday of the Church on Pentecost.

As the faithful traverse the highways and byways of the continental U.S. to converge on Indianapolis in mid-July, we will be walking, hopefully, with Christ:

  • showing there is indeed more good than evil in the world because the Good Shepherd is among us;
  • that he is present when sickness and death befall loved ones and friends;
  • and that the Prince of Peace is with us when waiting hurts, amid prayers that are answered in his good time; and when he is preparing choice blessings for us — for Hope is truly with us through it all.