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Modern Day Saints
Mothers Who Gave Their Lives for Their Children
When informed Catholics are asked about a saint who gave her life for her child, they automatically think of Gianna Beretta. Beretta in her final pregnancy developed a fibroma on her uterus. After examination, the doctors gave her three choices: an abortion, a complete hysterectomy, or removal of only the fibroma. Although the Church forbids all direct abortion even when the woman's life is in danger, a hysterectomy is allowed; however it would have resulted in her unborn child's death as an unintended consequence.
In 1962, a few days before her child was due she was ready to give her life in order to save the life of her child: “If you must decide between me and the child, do not hesitate: choose the child - I insist on it. Save him.” On the morning of April 21, 1962, Gianna Emanuela was born. Despite all efforts to save both of them, on the morning of April 28, amid unspeakable pain and after repeated exclamations of, “Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I love you,” the mother died. She was 39 years old. Gianna was a devoted Catholic, and her funeral was an occasion of profound grief, faith and prayer. She was canonized by Pope Paul VI on September 23, 1973
It is not as widely known, but there are a number of women who have recently given their lives for their babies. In this age where women readily procure abortions without remorse, it is uplifting to read about a mother with a fierce desire to protect her child.
Stacie Crimm at 41 became pregnant although her doctors had previously said she would never be able to conceive. Unfortunately, just a few months into her pregnancy Stacie was diagnosed with head and neck cancer and presented with the most difficult dilemma a mother can face: either undergo chemotherapy to save her own life or forego the treatment to save the life of her baby.
Stacie bravely fought the cancer as she tried to give her baby a chance to live, but collapsed at her home in Ryan, Oklahoma, on August 16. Doctors said the invasive tumor had begun wrapping around the brain stem, slowly squeezing the life out of Stacie.
Stacie, who made the decision to spare the life of her child, tragically died on September 11, 2011. Thankfully, she lived long enough to hold her tiny baby girl, Dottie Mae, in her arms. This mother truly exemplified the courage of womanhood by offering the ultimate sacrifice for her child.
Sometimes it may be necessary to separate the baby from the mother. If the baby is premature, he or she may not survive. But the intent is never to take the life of the baby in an effort to save the mother. Stacie decided her little girl was worth the risk, and other women have made that same, hard decision.
In August of 2010, Jessica Council, a beautiful 30-year-old mother of one suffered a sore throat. At the same time she suspected she was pregnant. The doctors did not suspect any problems. By November her throat had become a good deal worse. She was admitted to an emergency room and was informed she had cancer.
Jessica’s husband, Clint, had originally met this gorgeous redhead at Greenville College School and it took him over a year to persuade her to go out with him. They were married over two years later and moved to Travelers’s Rest, South Carolina, where their son was born. Both worked as youth mentors.
Clint describes his wife’s reaction to the cancer as a mixture of fear and surprise. Being pregnant, she knew any treatments would almost certainly harm if not kill her unborn child.
In November the hospital’s OB/GYN offered Jessica an abortion. Jessica responded that abortion was not an option. She also refused chemotherapy and radiation treatment as these would very likely kill the baby. Operating on her throat was never an option because of the location of the cancer.
The subject of treatment came up again when Jessica reached the third trimester. Her doctors claimed the risks to the baby were minimal at this late stage in its development.
Jessica continued to refuse treatment. She knew she was going to die anyway and wanted to give her baby every chance she could.
Earlier in her pregnancy, Jessica had some success with an alternative method to stem the cancer growth using organic vegetable juices and supplements.
On February 5, 2011, Jessica went to sleep and did not awaken. The next day the hospital declared her brain dead, and Clint gave permission for a C-Section. Little Jessi was born weighing 1 pound, 3 ounces. She was at 23 weeks gestation and just viable.
At first Clint dealt with the cancer and death of his wife with great sorrow; after such a severe blow, he could not bring himself to think of God. However, within two months he posted the following on his blog, “God is to be praised my friends. Do not doubt God; nor do not be angry with him for me. I am privileged to have had a wife who was so full of the love of the Father. Rejoice with me, brothers and sisters. God has blessed Jessica in taking her to a place of perfect peace and no pain. I must be thankful for the time I had with her rather than ungrateful for all the things we never got to do together. We must give thanks in all things for this is the will of God in Jesus Christ.”
These two stories are not of canonized Catholic saints, but they are still true stories of young mothers who are fine examples for others in a desperate situation. These stories occurred during the past year alone. There are many more!
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