5 Things St. Gianna and Her Husband Teach Us About Dating, Marriage and Love
Love letters exchanged between St. Gianna and Pietro Molla reveal the loving history of their relationship — and include practical holy tips.
She was a doctor who drove to Mass in her Fiat 500 and searched endlessly for the will of God.
He was a humble, morally resolute engineer full of enthusiasm for the richness of life.
They met in the town of Mesero, Italy, and the day before their wedding, Pietro Molla gave Gianna Beretta a watch, a pearl necklace and a note.
“Let these crown the wonder and the brightness of your beauty and your virtues on our wedding day,” he wrote. “May the watch always mark the loveliness and most peaceful times of our life, and may this pearl necklace be a sign of the enchanting light of our love. They are given to you ... by your Pietro with the greatest love.”
The couple documented their love story in years of letters to each other. Love Letters to My Husband and The Journey of Our Love are books that contain dozens of letters between the two of them. While their deep affection for each other has only captured the hearts of readers in print since 2002 and 2014, respectively, Gianna was beatified in 1994 and canonized in 2004.
Their wise words induce reflection on holy and mighty expectations for romantic relationships, from dating, to engagement, to marriage, and on love itself. In the book The Journey of Our Love, the introduction author Elio Guerriero wrote:
“Better than a theological treatise, these letters are a convincing proof that the way of holiness does not necessarily pass through religious life or the priestly ministry,” he wrote, “but can unfold in the midst of the world, living one’s own vocation as a Christian called to holiness with Christ in married life.”
Expression of Emotion
The couple exchanged the honest and affectionate desires of their hearts with each other and responded with kindness and shared enthusiasm for their upcoming life together.
Gianna: “I really want to make you happy and be what you desire: good, understanding and ready for the sacrifices that life will require of us. I haven’t told you yet that I have always been very sensitive and eager for affection.”
Pietro: “A new life is beginning for me: the life of your great (and greatly desired) affection and of your radiant goodness. ... I too want to make you happy and understand you well.”
Giving of Self
They often expressed their eagerness to love selflessly and worthily and brought their intentions before God.
Gianna: “You are the man I had wished for, but I often ask myself, ‘Will I be worthy of him?’ Yes, worthy of you, because I want so much to make you happy, but I fear not being able to do so. ... When this happens, I ask God, ‘Lord, you see my desire and my good will. Supply what is lacking.’”
Pietro: “I already feel that you are the worthy spouse I hoped for and the incomparable mother of the children with whom God will bless us. I pray that the Lord will make me always worthy of you.”
Encouragement in Virtue
They were both deeply holy and longed to become more so. In one of her letters, Gianna simply and humbly asks for Pietro’s help in bringing her away from sin and error.
Gianna: “I ask you a favor: From now on, Pietro, if you see me doing something wrong, tell me, okay? I will always be grateful to you if you do this.”
Pietro: “I am sure you will never give me any reason to have to correct you. To your question, I answer with the same request on my part.”
Vulnerability in Insecurity
The couple’s emotional letters include some examples of their fears and resulting ability to share concerns with each other.
Gianna: “Pietro, I promised you that I would always tell you my worries. I must tell you about something that causes me to suffer. I’m afraid your parents aren’t satisfied with me, that I am not what they wanted for you.”
Pietro: “There’s no reason for your doubts or fears ... you are the welcome one, the one all my loved ones wanted me to have.”
Time for Prayer and the Sacraments
Whatever their season in life or in the midst of their professional vocations, both Gianna and Pietro devoted themselves to filling their days with the sacraments and prayer, both for the glory of God and out of love for the other.
Gianna: “You are always with me, starting in the morning during Holy Mass. At the Offertory, I offer your work, your joys, and your sufferings along with mine; then I repeat the offering all day long until evening.”
Pietro: “‘Make our love grow ever greater, sweeter, purer. Make me worthy of her, and may our family receive Heaven’s blessings; may we and our children be holy.’ This was my prayer to Jesus as soon as he had come into my heart, while at the same time I was moved by your devout recollection while you were talking to Jesus.”
May the loving example of Gianna and Pietro Molla inspire holy, loving and communicative relationships, whether in seasons of dating, engagement or marriage.
St. Gianna Beretta Molla, pray for us!
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