THE DOCTORS AND SAINTS FOR THE SICK SECTION
SAINTS FOR THE SICK is Joan Carroll Cruz’s latest book. Joan needs no introduction for she is the author of other books including The Incorruptibles, Eucharistic Miracles, and Secular Saints and others listed in the doctoral sources/link on the homepage. Some of her subjects and books have been included on the site of Doctors of the Catholic Church. As before, only a few selections of her new book will be included in order to encourage one to find out more about this fascinating subject that will happen to each of us. Sickness is inevitable and knowing how the saints embrace their own sickness will hopefully grace and inspire us along our life’s journey with trust and confidence toward our loving God in his divine plan for each of us.
Taken from the back Cover Page of the book above:
In this intriguing new book, bestselling author, Joan Carroll Cruz presents 94 mini-biographies highlighting saintly Catholics who faced intense, long-term suffering and disability with sweetness, peace and love for Jesus Christ. These stories show the triumph of God’s grace where the world finds only ugliness and approaching death. They describe some lives so recent that the saint’s family members are still living today, with many causes for canonization being currently active in Rome.
Included here are Bl. Zelie Martin, who died of breast cancer; 14-year-old Bl. Isidore Bakanja, the Scapular martyr from Africa; the famous leper priest, St Damien of Molokai; Venerable Matthew Talbot, the alcoholic; St Germaine Cousin, rejected because of a birth defect; and little Nennolina Meo, who died from cancer of the bone, lungs and brain. Also included are persons who suffered from paralysis, amputation, deformities, breathing problems, mental illnesses, kidney ailments, intestinal disorders, and more – as well as from medical treatment itself.
Particularly remarkable are the children who suffered, including young people ages 15, 13, 12, 11 – and even 6! For these there was no grasping at the remnants of earthly life but rather an eager anticipation of Heaven. These children showed unwavering resolve to suffer for the love of God and the conversion of sinners – as they endeavored to console their parents.
SAINTS FOR THE SICK is a book that reinforces our Catholic faith and gives renewed hope to those who are dealing with bodily struggles. Moreover, it puts us in touch with heavenly intercessors who gladly help us – for they know exactly what we are going through on earth.
Includes an Index of Ailments
Published by TAN BOOKS, whose web site is below.
The first entry was entered 1/28/2011
Servant of God Angiolino Bonetta (1948 - 1963)
Angiolino was born in northern Italy to a truck-driving father and a mother who worked as a cloth repairer. During his early years he was affectionate, athletic, and was described as being playful and mischievous, but good and generous with everyone.
After receiving his First Holy Communion, Angiolino seems to have changed and to have concentrated more on the practice of virtue, although he still excelled scholastically and athletically, participating in races, football and other athletic endeavors. When his right knee began to trouble him, this was blamed on his activities and on the
occasional falls he suffered during his activities. However, when he began to lose weight and began limping, his mother took him to the hospital for radiological examinations. The tests revealed bone cancer. Angiolino was then only 12 years old.
The young boy abandoned himself to the Will of God and willingly endured chemotherapy treatments, and then later, the amputation of his leg. To a nun who suggested that he offer his sufferings for souls, he responded, “I have already offered all to Jesus for the conversion of sinners. I am not afraid; Jesus always comes to help me. “ It is known that Angiolino’s cheerful acceptance of his condition obtained several conversions.
Unfortunately, the cancer, metastasized, causing extreme pain. Medical procedures added to the distress, but Angiolino prayed to his beloved Madonna, and he was supported by his reception of the Holy Eucharist. He was also comforted by holding a crucifix and various other sacramentals that had been given to him, including a relic of St Bernadette.
The nursing nuns were edified by their young patient’s willing acceptance of pain that they recommended to him certain other patients who were undergoing particularly severe physical or mental suffering. Angiolino is known to have spent many nights praying for these souls by reciting the Holy Rosary, his favorite devotion.
Angiolino was often found absorbed in silent prayer, his eyes closed and a serene expression on his face. The day before he died, in an attempt to console his mother, he told me: “I have made a pact with the Madonna. When the hour arrives, she will come to take me. I have asked her to permit me to make my Purgatory on this earth, not in the other world. When I die, I will immediately fly to Heaven.”
Angiolino’s death in the early morning of January 28, 1963 was truly edifying. While holding his crucifix and relic of St. Bernadette, he looked toward the statue of the Madonna and passed into the next world.
In acknowledgment that Angiolino had reached “breathtaking heights of Christian heroism,” his cause for beatification was open in 1998. This action gave him the title of Servant of God.
Ever since January 28, 1963, in the early morning hours, we have a new intercessor for us in heaven awaiting our petition. Today is the same day that Servant of God, Angiolino Bonetta, went to heaven and awaits any petitions. It has been 48 years to the day since he passed, and it is the same year he was born on earth, 1948 and the same year he was born again with his Madonna and his Jesus.
Blessed Maria Bartolomea Bagnesi (1514 - 1577)
Maria Bagnesi was born into a wealthy Florentine family who found it necessary to place the infant in the care of a foster mother. Unfortunately, the infant received inadequate care and poor nutrition, which proved so detrimental that Maria was never able in later life to eat a normal meal.
Maria would have followed her elder sister into the religious life except for the death of the mother. Maria, who was then, not quite 18 years old, was obliged to assume the supervision of the father’s household, although always hoping to enter a Carmelite convent. Unknown to Maria, her father arranged a ,marriage for her, which so shocked and grieved her that she suffered a complete breakdown of her health.
She became a bedridden invalid with problems that included pleurisy, asthma, kidney disease, and conditions affecting her eyes, head, stomach and intestines. She also experienced temporary blindness and deafness. Her sufferings were increased when she was subjected to revolting and painful remedies prescribed by her physicians and by charlatans employed by her father. It is said that her condition became so critical that on eight occasions she received the Last Sacraments.
The father finally abandoned hope for her health and marriage when Maria was 32 years old. He then recommended that she join the Third Order of St. Dominic. For a short time he returned to relatively good health, but then her previous afflictions returned with such intensity that she was obliged to return to her bed.
Although she suffered intensely, Maria was never heard to complain, and she continued to exercise a wonderful influence on a great many people. Her sanctity was such that she was enabled to read the hearts of her visitors and was granted a share in heavenly knowledge and an advance spirit of prayer.
In addition to her sufferings from illness, it became later known that a tyrannical servant who cared for the invalid had afflicted Maria with various forms of abuse, which Maria had patiently endured for 24 years.
Maria died at the age of 63, after suffering as an invalid for 45 years. The Carmelites, who had been unable to accept Maria Bagnesi as a member because of her poor health, provided a tomb for her in the chapel of their convent. Years later, when her body was transferred to the cloister, it was found to be incorrupt.
Many miracles were performed through the intercession of Maria Bagnesi, especially one in favor of the future Sr. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi (d. 1607), who would spend three and a half months in the convent infirmary. When St. Mary Magdalene asked to be taken to the shrine of Maria Bagnesi, she was immediately cured. Later she beheld Maria in the glorious company of Our Lord and His holy Mother.
Maria Bagnesi was solemnly beatified by Pope Pius VII in 1804.
Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity (1880 - 1906)
Better known as Elizabeth of the Trinity, Elizabeth Catez was born to Captain Joseph Catez and Marie Catez at a military camp in the diocese of Bourges, France. After her father’s death when she was seven, Elizabeth and her sister Marguerite were raised by their mother, who noted that Elizabeth, because she was stubborn and given to fits of rage, would “become either a terror or a saint.” This child was quite a problem until the time of her First Communion, when she abruptly decided to change her disposition.
At the age of 14, having heard the word Carmel after the reception of Holy Communion, Elizabeth felt called to become a Carmelite nun, having already been acquainted with the Order since childhood. But she was not allowed to enter until her 22nd birthday, in accord with the wishes of her mother. During the intervening year, she dedicated herself to prayer and penance and developed a cheerful disposition. She attended family gatherings and was quite adept at playing the piano, and she often played to entertain her family and friend.
Before her entrance into Carmel, Elizabeth had a long conversation with Father Valee, a Dominican, who explained that the Blessed Trinity dwelt in her soul. Thereafter, she decided to please God by meditating often on the indwelling of the Holy Trinity, often writing about this practice and explaining that “It is wonderful to recall that, except for the vision of seeing God, we possess God as all the Saints in heaven do… He dwells in our souls! After entering Carmel in 1901 and being professed in1903, Elizabeth suffered from spiritual dryness and the “dark night of the soul” as explained by St. John of the Cross.
Sometime after her profession, Elizabeth offered herself as a “victim soul” and soon developed Addison’s Disease, a hormonal disorder that is accompanied by chronic fatigue, lightheadedness, low blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weak muscles and spasms. She endured these symptoms until November 9, 1906, when she uttered her dying words, “I am going to Light, to Love, to Life! She was a mere 26 years old.
The writings of Bl. Elizabeth regarding the indwelling of the Holy Trinity have been studied and commended by a number of outstanding theologians, including Father Philipon, O. P. Elizabeth of the Trinity was beatified by Pope John Paul II on November 25, 1984.
Saint Gianna Beretta Molla ( 1922 – 1962)
The family into which Gianna Beretta was born in 1922 was an extraordinary one. Both parents were Third Order Franciscans who taught their children to live simply, frugally, and with fraternal joy. One of the children, who later became a priest, said that they “lived an intense life of piety and evangelical mortification, renouncing even exteriorly all that was superfluous.” Both parents attended daily Mass with their children, and in the evening the Rosary was recited, followed by happy and animated conversation. A daughter added, “Never did a strong or uncontrolled word disturb the serenity of the family, never was there a reproof from the mother without the support of the father… the atmosphere of the home was permeated with serenity and peace.” This was all the more remarkable since there were 13 children in the family.
One of her early teachers recalled that Gianna had a sweet character: “She was always smiling. I never hear a word of annoyance, fatigue or rebellion cross her lips…The fulfillment of her duties at home, in school, in society were for her a sacred duty. Diligent and committed to her studies, she was a model of respect and discipline.”
Gianna had many interests, including mountain climbing, skiing, painting, playing the piano, and attending the theater, opera and concerts. As with many young ladies, she liked nice clothes, believing that simple beauty was becoming to a Christian lady. Concern for her neighbor was always a primary preoccupation with Gianna. She joined Catholic Action and participation in many of its charitable endeavors, especially visiting the poor and sick in their homes. She brought them food and medicines and tidied many a disorderly household.
When it came time to decide upon a life’s work Gianna decided upon medicine. She received her degree in medicine and surgery in 1949 form the University of Pavia in Italy. She then joined her brother, also a doctor, in his clinic in Mesero, located not far from the family home.
Gianna assisted many patients free of charge if they were too poor to afford medical help. She also supplied them with free medicine, supplies and money. Since she was especially attracted to serving mothers and children, she returned to school, while still maintaining her medical practice, and received a degree in pediatrics from the University of Milan in 1952. Gianna was a dedicated doctor who visited her patients in their homes in the countryside or in the hospital at Magenta. Sometimes she left her office as late as nine o’clock. She also promptly visited the sick at night
Gianna seriously opposed abortion. She once wrote: “The doctor should not meddle. The right of the child to live is equal to the right of the mother’s life… it is a sin to kill in the womb.”
Still active in Catholic Action, Gianna met a mechanical engineer, Pietro Molla. After a seven-month engagement, Pietro, 43 years old, and Gianna, 33, were married by her brother, Father Giuseppe, in September of 1955. After an extended honeymoon touring Rome, the rest of Italy, and Europe, they settled in a little house near the plant where Pietro worked as director. Pietro wrote of his happiness with Gianna and agreed with her that they would form a truly Christian family, stating his hope that “we pray to be given the grace to be cheered by little angels.”
Three months after the wedding, Gianna became pregnant, and in due course, the couple’s first child, Pier Luigi, was born. Then came Mariolina in 1957; then, two years later, Lauretta joined the family.
Serious complications had developed during each of the pregnancies. With all three Gianna had experienced excessive vomiting, intestinal binding and dysfunction and gastric disturbances that caused a great deal of pain. Her first pregnancy went 25 days beyond her due date, with labor of 36 hours. In the second pregnancy there were similar difficulties. The event was delayed ten days and was accompanied by a long and painful delivery. During the third pregnancy, Gianna had to be admitted to the hospital due to acute symptoms similar to those of her first two pregnancies. She suffered from vomiting and acute spasmodic contractions, accompanied by the threat of miscarriage. According to her obstetrician the delivery of each child took place without pain relievers of any kind, in accord with the wishes of the mother.
In spite of the difficulties experienced the births were immediate occasions for thankfulness and joy. After Baptism, each child was placed under the protection of Our Lady of Good Counsel, and soon as she could, Gianna returned to her medical practice.
Gianna and Pietro prayed for yet another child to grace their family, but their next two pregnancies ended in spontaneous miscarriages. When Gianna became aware that she was again expecting, she soon realized that she was facing a serious, life-threatening experience. During her second month it was discovered that a painful fibroid tumor had grown in her uterus. Although a benign tumor, it was growing rapidly and threatened to compress the unborn child, bringing danger of abnormal development or miscarriage. Other complications also threatened, including a pre-term labor and displacement of the uterus. There was the possibility that the tumor might outgrow its blood supply and degenerate, causing considerable pain, as well as presenting the risk of infection.
Gianna, being a doctor knew her options. The first was to have a hysterectomy, which would indirectly cause the death of the fetus and would preclude the possibility of future pregnancies. The second option would be to have the tumor removed, abort the fetus, but still retain the possibility of future pregnancies. These two options were not considered by Gianna since they would result in the death of the fetus. The third option was to have the tumor removed and continue the pregnancy, but this would present other serious complications. Gianna decided upon the third option.
The tumor was removed, and this pregnancy, like the others, was accompanied by nagging nausea and always the threat of a miscarriage. Gianna had suffered much during her other pregnancies and without complaint. This last pregnancy, however, involved difficulties not faced in the previous ones, since the expanding uterus could press again the partially healed incision, breaking it open and causing a bloody hemorrhage.
Gianna remembered a lecture she once gave to the young girls of Catholic Action: “When the mother and child are in danger, the life of the child should take preference.”
When Gianna was given the same option, she immediately chose the life of the baby at a risk to her own. She was to say, “With faith and hope I am trusting in the Lord, even against science’s terrible sentence. I trust in God, but now it is up to me to fulfill my duty as a mother. I renew the offering of my life to the Lord. I am ready for anything they will do to me, provided my child is saved.”
After the fifth month, Gianna felt certain that the pregnancy would continue normally. She is said to have lived always calm and in apparent peace; and when she felt well enough, she returned to her patients until it was time for the birth.
A few hours later, Gianna’s condition began to deteriorate. She experienced an elevated fever, a rapid and weakened pulse, and exhaustion. She also suffered an intense and overwhelming pain that was caused by septic peritonitis an infection of the lining of the abdomen. Despite the extensive use antibiotics, this condition was to continue for a week until her death. During this painful abdominal suffering, Gianna declined all narcotic medications, since she wanted to remain perfectly awake. While suffering she was hear to whisper frequently, “Jesus, I love You. Jesus, I love You!” Because of nausea she was unable to receive Holy Communion, Instead the sacred Host was placed on her lips.
Gianna knew she was dying, and she remarked to her sister, “If you only know how differently things are judged at the hour of death; how vain certain things appear to which was give such importance in the world.”
One week after the delivery, Gianna was taken home. Knowing she would soon did, she must have experienced an agony at the prospect of leaving her children, her dear husband, and the infant who needed the nurturing of its mother. Gianna is truly the model of a heroic mother who, for the life of her unborn child, sacrificed her own life, leaving in God’s hands all those she loved in the world. Her doctor once exclaimed, “Behold the Catholic mother!”
Gianna died a few hours following her arrival home. It was eight o’clock in the morning, the Saturday after Easter, April 28, 1962. Pietro was heartbroken at the loss of his beloved wife after only six and a half years of a happy married life. Two years later he was to suffer another tragedy when his oldest daughter, Mariolina died.
Pier Luigi, Pietro Molla’s only son, eventually entered the business world, married and raised a family, while Lauretta studied economics. Gianna Emanuela, who had been named for her mother, became a medical doctor and now cares for Alzheimer patients. She lives with her husband in Magenta.
When Pope John Paul II conducted the beatification ceremony of Gianna Beretta Molla on April 24, 1994, in attendance were Gianna’s husband, her surviving children and four of her sisters and brothers, all of whom received Holy Communion from the Pope. The feast day of Gianna was set for April 28, the anniversary of her entrance into eternal life.
Ten years later, on May 16, 2004, the Pope canonized Gianna. In attendance were her husband, her children and other family members. They witnessed the elevation of their beloved Gianna to the honors of the altar as a Saint of the universal Church.
background music is Andrea Bocelli's "Ave Maria".