St. Gianna Beretta Molla
St. Gianna Beretta Molla by John Collier
Saints are so revered they are often depicted as remote or austere creating a challenge for the average person to connect with the saint as an ordinary human being. In order to bring her to life John Collier studied photos of Gianna and read stories about her to understand the person she was and the manner in which she responded to life’s daily challenges. John’s goal was to create a personable example of this complex woman.
Gianna was not only a wife and mother; she was also a professional woman, a doctor. Like many people today she was called upon to balance her professional with her personal life. She had given birth to three children. As a doctor she knew of the danger she faced when she learned her pregnancy had entered a dangerous stage.
This bronze sculpture captures a moment of reflection and even consternation in Gianna’s life. Pregnant with her fourth child, Gianna has just learned of the fibroid that threatens her life or the life of her unborn child. As she walks home from the grocery store, she ponders the decision that confronts her.
Tired from her day as a doctor and bearing the weight of her pregnancy while carrying groceries, one of Gianna’s shoes is slipping off as a result of her swollen feet.
Her grocery bag is overflowing with fruit, especially apples symbolizing the temptation that Gianna had to overcome in order to choose life for her child. The apple, a symbol of temptation, harkens back to the story of Adam and Eve. At this moment Gianna is called by God to choose life for her child. Gianna, in choosing the way of God, conquers temptation, and the apples fall abundantly from the grocery bag, as the bag itself begins to tear apart.
The overall sentiment captured in the statue is not one of a sinless, perfect individual, but rather that of an ‘ordinary’ person immersed in the daily challenges that we encounter in our own lives. The sculpture depicts Gianna as a contemporary example of Christian discipleship and reminds us that we too, are called to a life of faith.