The tenth of thirteen children born to Maria
and Albert Beretta (five of whom died at an early age), Gianna was
born on October 4, 1922.
Her parents were Third Order Franciscans and they considered the education
of their children almost a fulfillment of the work of God through the
creation and molding of these souls; it was a divine undertaking for
Although Marie was responsible for rearing 13 little souls,
she never neglected her missionary work and although they were not
oppressed with poverty, the Beretta’s taught their children to
live in great simplicity, frugality and joy. Both parents attended
Mass with their children very early every morning and the Rosary was
together in the home each evening. After the Rosary, the family repeated
the consecration to the Sacred Heart along with other prayers. The
family would then relax together sometimes playing the piano and singing
or just conversing with each other about the days events. Gianna’s
youngest sister Virginia recalls:
“Never did a strong or uncontrolled word disturb the serenity
of the family, never was a reproof from the mother without the support
of the father or vice versa; always in accord, they loved their children
and desired to give them a sound and complete formation. The atmosphere
of the home was permeated with serenity and peace, but necessary punishment
and corrections were never neglected.”
Maria and Albert Beretta made sure that each of their children studied
a profession so that he or she would be able to carry out Christian
service to the community and permeate the professional world with the
example of Christian life.
died in her 20’s
became a doctor
became a civil engineer
studied medicine and then became a Capuchin
priest, dedicating himself to the missions in Brazil.
studied engineering and then became a diocesan
became a doctor and then died in a heroic,
became a doctor and a Canossian Sister, working
as a missionary in India.
The atmosphere of the Beretta house was that of a spirit of sacrifice,
authentic daily prayer, close attention to others and a generous devotion
with the complete giving of one’s life. The children learned
to be content with little, to renounce all superfluity and to save
in order to give to others.