St. Gianna Told Her Future Boyfriend ‘I Love you’ First

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St. Gianna Beretta Molla embraced life with gusto. She was adventurous and passionate by nature. Her oldest child, Pierluigi, remembers that his mother loved to drive fast. If the roads were clear she put the pedal to the metal. She was that way with love too.

Whatever or whomever she loved, she loved daringly with her whole self—God, the Church, her parents, her children, and the man she fell in love with—Pietro.

Temperamentally, Gianna and Pietro were opposites. She was bold; he was reserved. They were close friends but it was Gianna who moved the relationship to the next level.

I had the privilege to meet their child, Gianna Emanuela, at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. She told me, “My dad was very shy. Fortunately, my mom was different.”

“Fortunately…” Gianna didn’t let the notion that it always has to be the man who should make the first move get in the way of her happiness. She loved Pietro so she told him.

February 21, 1955, Monday

Dearest Pietro,

I hope you don’t mind if I begin this letter by calling you by your first name and using such familiar language. After sharing our thoughts so openly yesterday, I think we can assume this level of intimacy, which will help us to understand and to love each other more and more.

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. While I had my parents, their love was enough for me. Then, although remaining very united to the Lord and working for him, I felt the need for a mother, and I found her in the dear nun whom I told you about yesterday.

Now there is you, whom I already love, and to whom I intend to give myself to form a truly Christian family.

Ciao, dear Pietro. Pardon my familiarity, but that’s how I am. Arrivaderci.

With affection,

Gianna

She wanted to marry him and have his children and she let him know it. But my favorite part is this statement: “But that’s how I am.” Since Italians love to talk with their hands, I picture her raising her arms in a shrug.

She knew she was breaking convention but her love was bigger than that. Italians are also famous lovers. It was bursting out of her. She had to proclaim it.

Did Pietro think Gianna was a brazen hussy? Read his response dated the very next day.

February 22, 1955, Tuesday

My dearest Gianna,

I’ve read your letter over and over and kissed it.

A new life is beginning for me: the life of your great (and greatly desired) affection and of your radiant goodness. We are starting the journey of our love. 

I love you, my dearest Gianna.

I could not have received a greater or more ardently desired grace from our Heavenly Mother, Our Lady of Good Counsel, as she is invoked in my little church in Ponte Nuovo.

I so wanted and needed love and a family of my own. Now I have you, your love and affection, and I am happy. 

My love is yours, and I want to raise a family with you. I too want to make you happy and understand you well.

Forgive me for not beginning a closer confidence sooner than I did. Thank you for your help and trust.

With all my love, 

Pietro

Faced with Gianna’s effusive declaration, Pietro’s own passion bursts from him. (He was Italian too, after all!)

He does show some regret about her having to make the first move, but it’s not because he thought less of her for doing it. He just wished he hadn’t let his shyness stop him.

But rather than fret about it, he thanked her for helping him and for believing in him.

Gianna made the first move and Pietro wished he had. It wasn’t what they idealized, but they embraced it and it brought them great fulfillment. Later, when he published their love letters, Pietro testified that Gianna’s joyful, expressive spirit and trust in God inspired him to live the same way.

Many Catholic singles I know get caught up on little things like—he texted, but he should have called; or the man should always make the first move—as if these things are commandments and it is a sin to break them. They’re not. They’re conventions. Conventions are not bad just not applicable to each and every situation. Ask yourself: what is more important to me? Conventions or my happiness?

The world now knows St. Gianna as a witness of total self giving. She gave up her life to save her unborn child, Gianna Emanuela, whom she loved passionately even before she felt her stirring in her womb.

St. Gianna embraced love and life as exciting gifts from God.Click To Tweet She did not take these gifts and critique them because they were not packaged according to her will or according to an abstract ideal. She accepted them graciously as they were—imperfections and all—as coming from the hand of Providence. It was what made her happy in this life and happy in the next. She went for it. May she guide you to go for it too.

Letters and images used with permissions from Gianna Emanuela Molla.

Listen more about who should make the first move from author, Susie Lloyd. The answer is not what you think!



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29 Comments

  1. Jerry-1203857 November 19, 2015 Reply

    WHAT A WONDERFUL STORY. IT BROUGHT TEARS TO MY EYES BECAUSE MY LATE WIFE, ALICE, TOLD HER GIRL FRIEND WHEN WE WERE HIGH SCHOOL FRESHMEN: ” SEE THAT BOY OVER THERE? I’M GOING TO MARRY HIM.”
    YES, WE WERE HIGH SCHOOL FRESHMEN AND WERE TO BECOME SWEETHEARTS THROUGH THOSE H.S. YEARS. WE MARRIED AT 18, WITHIN 5 MONTHS AFTER GRADUATING. WE RAISED 4 CHILDREN AND WERE MARRIED 50 YEARS WHEN THE LORD CALLED HER HOME.
    THINKING BACK I OFTEN WONDERED WHETHER I WOULD HAVE PANICKED AS A FRESHMAN IF ALICE HAD TOLD ME DIRECTLY THAT SHE WOULD MARRY ME BECAUSE I DIDN’T HEAR THAT STORY FROM HER GIRL FRIEND (AND CONFIRMED BY ALICE) TILL LONG AFTER WE WERE MARRIED. BUT I AM SO GLAD THAT ALICE TOOK THE INITIATIVE BECAUSE I TOO WAS A LITTLE SHY AT THE TIME.
    NOW, AS A CATHOLIC SINGLE, AM I WAITING FOR A FUTURE COMPANION TO SPEAK FIRST AGAIN?

  2. Peggy-1209767 November 16, 2015 Reply

    I will like to have History like Gianna,I’m waiting if I faund at Catholicmatch my future nice Husband,from 57 years old to 64

  3. Rene-747300 November 9, 2015 Reply

    Beautiful and that’s supernatural life, you respectfully get through the natural ones, the latter ones are just means or obstacle to a greater end, Charity is the Rule to Go by led by God! The will loves, and if is is free prayerfully consecrate it to God and go!

  4. Donna-1259231 November 8, 2015 Reply

    I am a widow , my husband was was a devout Methodist. We started going back to church, me to my Catholic church, he to his church. Then we started to share one week to my church next week to his church. The people were kind and loving . Now it’s been almost 2 years and I would love to love again in my faith. I need help.

  5. Mina-1154513 November 7, 2015 Reply

    A beautiful love story, I love it – thanks for sharing.

  6. Thomas-669718 November 4, 2015 Reply

    Finally, an article that I can relate to on here, and that I won’t walk away from feeling frustrated or empty. “She went for it” – that might be the most inspiring line of dialogue I’ve seen in the 6 years I’ve used this site. Simple, yet profound. Hopefully, me going for it will end in happiness, or at least stability, instead of despair or remaining in the prison I’m in now.

  7. Deirdre-1262799 November 4, 2015 Reply

    I see St Gianna like abig sister,she is amazing. I know she will help me in the affairs of the heart!

  8. Weng-1250793 November 4, 2015 Reply

    Uuuggghh! How I wish I can do the same.

  9. Eucharia-1185307 November 4, 2015 Reply

    St. Gianna, a focused Saint, pray for us

  10. Marichu-1132313 November 4, 2015 Reply

    Thanks so much for sharing! I am in tears! Very inspiring!

  11. Michelle M. November 3, 2015 Reply

    Is there a prayer to St. Giana? I hope so. But I do wish that in these complicated days that those of us who have gone through divorce find a faithful love. I will pray for all who suffer and are lonely, who no longer trust and feel they were not enough to find that special love that god wants for us

  12. John-1046049 November 3, 2015 Reply

    What a beautiful soul St. Gianna was to have such an unguarded heart. Provocative and inspirational for those of us wearing full body armor on every date. Of course, I’m not giving up the armor just yet, I’m so used to wearing it, but maybe I’ll leave my shield at home next date :-))

    • Susie Lloyd November 3, 2015 Reply

      Great way to put it, John – full body armor. You have a way with words.
      Everybody: if you wish you had a trusting heart like St. Gianna’s ask her to help you with it.
      Prayer can move mountains. Sometimes the biggest mountains are those we put up in our own way and refuse to either climb over or go around. St. Gianna loved to climb mountains so she would be a good patroness for that. Hah!

  13. Jason-1184028 November 3, 2015 Reply

    The problem is today no one wants to communicate; to be the first to express their feelings. Women hate men and men hate women. Love is a journey and everyone bails at the first sign of trouble. Find a good enough person, grow together, but first seek year the kingdom of God, together.

    • Ryan-1191814 November 4, 2015 Reply

      “Women hate men and men hate women.” I’m fairly sure that was God’s exact curse on humanity at the Fall. So no surprise there.

      • Susie Lloyd November 4, 2015 Reply

        Hate? No way. People are just insecure – men and women both. People want to be loved. The problems happen when someone wants to be loved but doesn’t want to take the risk TO love. Those who take the risk TO love receive love.

        • Ryan-1191814 November 4, 2015 Reply

          “Those who take the risk TO love receive love.”
          Amen sister. 🙂

        • Ann-819902 November 7, 2015 Reply

          As someone and I were recently discussing, it is in giving that we receive.

  14. Mary-1187373 November 3, 2015 Reply

    Thank you for the encouragement. It is a beautiful and inspiring story.

  15. Milagros P. November 3, 2015 Reply

    Thank you for sharing The story is really inspiring and convincing. I wish I can be bold like her as to what I fell.

  16. Susan-1257016 November 3, 2015 Reply

    Beautiful story, thank you for sharing. We need more stories of the saints who were married and had families.

  17. John-1124697 November 3, 2015 Reply

    Excellent!

  18. Sue-957178 November 3, 2015 Reply

    Thanks so much for sharing this! It has helped me to clarify some of the concerns I’ve had lately with a great guy I’m getting to know. I’m adding St. Gianna to my ever growing list of saints who are getting petitions from me daily for guidance on all this…

  19. Denis-692804 November 3, 2015 Reply

    I wish I could find a woman like Gianna

  20. Leocardia-1226578 November 3, 2015 Reply

    A very inspiring story… I like it so so much. St. Gianna, intercede for us

  21. Ryan-1191814 November 1, 2015 Reply

    Props to St. Gianna for breaking the stereotype. Seriously go her. And oh yeah, I have an Italian uncle. They are really loving people!

  22. Anne-911324 November 1, 2015 Reply

    Thank you. I love this story.

  23. Una-1161157 November 1, 2015 Reply

    This is a beautiful testimony to love ! I loved reading the love letters between Gianna and Pietro ! Thank you for sharing ! 🙂

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