After Amelia’s death Papa Beretta moved the family to Genoa so
that his older sons and daughters could more easily continue their
studies at the university. The years spent at Genoa were fundamental
to Gianna’s spiritual formation, she was a reserved fifteen
years old adolescent in search of her own calling .
Spring, 1938, Gianna and her sister Virginia attended a secondary school
run by the Dorothean Sisters. Every morning they would attend Mass
in a church near their house. They studied diligently and helped each
other to earn good grades.
A Jesuit priest at the school gave a retreat for the students of
the school and the two Beretta girls followed the spiritual exercise
special devotion. From March 16 to 18, 1938, Gianna attended this
retreat according to St. Ignatius' Spiritual Exercises. The many
received there marked her for the rest of her life. At the retreat,
she went deep into the fundamental values of the spiritual life—the
necessity of grace and prayer, the horror of sin, the imitation
of Christ, mortification. Most of all, she began to see apostolate
an outstanding expression of charity. Among her resolutions, she
1. To do all things for the Lord... To serve God, I will not go to
the movies without being sure that the film is suitable and not scandalous
2. I prefer to die rather than commit a mortal sin...
3. To say the «Hail Mary» every day so that the Lord
might give me a holy death...
4. I wish to fear mortal sin as if it were a serpent and I repeat I
would die a thousand times rather than offend the Lord.
5. I wish to ask the Lord to help me not to go to hell and therefore
to avoid all that would harm my soul.
6. I beg the Lord to help me understand his great mercy.
7. I propose to obey M.M. and to study even though I don’t
feel like it, for the love of Jesus.
8. From this day on, I wish to pray on my knees in the morning in church
just as I do in my room in the evening at the foot of my bed.
9. The way of humiliation is the shortest way to reach holiness. To
pray that the Lord lead me to Paradise.
Gianna learned mental prayer, meaning to converse familiarly and intimately
with God. Her writing show that she wished to offer everything to Jesus,
both suffering and joy; to learn to trust God in the trails and sufferings
of life, to accept his will; and, finally to seek to know the unfathomable
designs of Providence.
As the first step in her new “program of life”, she
decided to dedicate herself completely to her studies. As a result
that scholastic year with exceptional grades.