Left to right: Marie Brunet, Pierluigi Molla, Andre Brunet after presentations in Varese, Italy during the VII World Meeting of Families.
Varese, Italy -
On our second full day of the VII World Meeting of Families, we spent the afternoon outside of Milan, in the town of Varese. To our great surprise, this trip outside the city brought a connection to Canada, and, as we hoped, it also brought us closer to the heart of the family! In Varese at the Collegio De Filippi, we were presented with testimonies and videos from various renowned families, one of them being the family of Saint Gianna Beretta Molla.
St. Gianna is one of the most modern saints of our day. She was born in 1922 and lived until 1962. She was from Magenta, just outside of Milan. Not only was she was a doctor, she was also a mother and a wife who lived a holy life dedicated to Christ and to her family. She died after having given birth to her last daughter, Gianna Emanuela. She said "“If you must decide between me and the child, do not hesitate: choose the child - I insist on it! " She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1994 (the year of the Family!) and canonized in 2004, in the presence of her husband, Pietro, and her three children.
This afternoon, one of the videos that was shown was the Salt + Light documentary on St. Gianna (made in Canada - we were so proud!). Afterwards, St. Gianna's son, Pierluigi Molla gave a testimony on his mother's life and their family. He mentioned that he felt his mother was ahead of her time, balancing work, family and faith so graciously. It was very inspiring hearing a saint's son speak of his mother and sharing with us about her as a true witness that sainthood is attainable even in today's world. He told us that St. Gianna was the last saint that Blessed JPII canonized before his death, and that he likes to believe that she was the first saint that he met when he arrived in heaven!
St. Gianna's daughters, Laura and Gianna Emanuela were also present, and Gianna Emanuela led us in prayer after the presentation. The biggest blessing of the day for Andre and I was having the chance to personally meet all three of the saint's children and receiving the relics of their mother from Gianna Emanuela, with the assurance of her prayers for us!
The other family testimonies of the afternoon were also quite moving: One from a family of artists, the father of which is a famous Italian tenor, Silvio Scarpolini. The whole family - all five children included- not only spoke about the importance of family, but also sang together a song of thanksgiving for family.
It was impressive to hear the teenage children talk about the importance of their faith and how God inspires them in their lives through the gifts He has given them. All five Scarpolini children are involved in art, through theatre, music and dance.
Another testimony was given by video by a well known Argentinian soccer player, Javier Zanetti, and his wife. They spoke of the need to make sacrifices to put their family first. It was remarkable to see this public figure speak of his strong faith. It was even mentioned that he had inspired some of his teammates to convert to Catholicism!
We returned to Milan quite late, but look forward to tomorrow's program.
Ciao di Varese!
Salt + Light is pleased to bring you full coverage of the Feast of Testimony on Saturday June 2 at 8:00pm ET/5:00pm PT and the Closing Mass on Sunday June 3 at 10:00am ET / 7:00am PT.