The story of Maria Cristina Cella Mocellin has moved the world. During the 1990s, she was diagnosed with cancer shortly after learning she was pregnant. But her values and convictions led her to reject the abortion of her child and cancer treatments, prioritizing the health of her unborn child even though she was endangering her own life.
Mocellin grew up in a parish in Milan, Italy, where she was nurtured with strong Christian values and served as a catechist and youth leader, according to the Italian newspaper La Stampa.
For a long time,, she strongly considered giving herself up to religious life and becoming a nun. “Lord, show me the way: it doesn’t matter if you want me as a mother or as a nun, what really matters is that I always do your will,” she wrote in her spiritual diary in 1985.
But at the age of 16,, she met Carlo Moccellin, whom she married in 1991 at the end of her high school education. Then doctors discovered a sarcoma in her left leg, although it was successfully treated and did not prevent her from fulfilling her dream of starting a family with Moccellin, with whom she had two children, Francesco and Lucia.
The young couple was expecting a third child, Riccardo when they learned that her cancer had returned. But, as she wrote in her diaries when she found out, the first thing she thought of was the child she was carrying and not her health.
Her concern for Riccardo was that she immediately refused all chemotherapy treatments aimed at eliminating the cancer and any offer to abort her baby.
So she decided to wait until Riccardo’s birth in 1994 to begin treatment again. In the meantime, the cancer continued to advance and even reached her lungs, causing extreme suffering to her body.
Despite the physical and emotional suffering Maria Cristina faced, she never lost her faith in God. “I believe that God would not allow pain if he did not want to obtain a secret and mysterious but real good,” she wrote. “I believe that one day I will understand the meaning of my suffering and I will thank God for it.”
On October 22, 1995,, Maria Christina passed away at the age of just 26. But her story of courage and faith remains intact, thanks to her family and many people. They felt inspired by her and created an organization called Associazione Amici di Cristina (Friends of Cristina Association), which carries out various actions promoting the dignity of human life.
A month before her death, Maria Cristina wrote a letter to her son Riccardo. In addition to expressing all her motherly love, she emphasizes her appreciation for her own life and value for human life.
“Dear Riccardo, you need to know that you are not in the world by chance,” the letter begins. “The Lord wanted your birth despite all the problems there were… when we found out about you, we loved you and wanted you with all our heart.”
“It was that evening, in the car on the way back from the hospital, that you moved for the first time. It seemed as if you were saying, ‘Thank you mamma for loving me!’ And how could we not love you?” she added. “You are precious, and when I look at you and see you so beautiful, lively, friendly, I think that there is no suffering in the world that is not worth bearing for a child.”
The year she died, she wrote another letter in which one can read, “Although my health is precarious … I AM HAPPY!” She concluded, “I am ashamed to ask the Lord for anything else, for us the miracle is already there: if He loves us and we love each other, nothing else matters.”
The parishes of Carpané and Valstagna, where the Mocellin family still lives, are under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Padua, which initiated Cristina’s cause for beatification and is about to be examined by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome.