One young mother chose to forego treatment for cancer that would have risked her unborn child’s life. After giving birth to a healthy baby, Ricardo, she ultimately passed away – giving her life for her son’s.

Now, she’s being considered by the Catholic Church for sainthood.

Maria Cristina Cella Mocellin was born in 1969 in Milan, Italy. Though she strongly considered becoming a nun, Maria decided God was calling her to marriage after she met her future husband, Carlo Moccellin.

Shortly thereafter, she was diagnosed with cancer. But after being successfully treated, she finished high school and married Carlo.

“They soon welcomed two children into their home, Francesco and Lucia. They were expecting a third – Riccardo – when they found out that her cancer had returned,” the National Catholic Register reports.

After the diagnosis, Maria Cristina lamented in a letter to her unborn baby, “My reaction was to say over and over: ‘I am pregnant! I am pregnant! But doctor I am pregnant!”

“Dear Riccardo, you need to know that you are not in the world by chance. The Lord wanted your birth despite all the problems there were,” she wrote to her son. “When we found out about you, we loved you and wanted you with all our heart.”

Maria Cristina recognized the miracle of life and remarked to her husband how through marriage, they were able to create something in the world that would be unique and irreplicable.

“Don’t you think it’s extraordinary? If it weren’t for you and I who love each other, the world would lack that something that no one else in our place could give,” she told Carlo.

Riccardo was born healthy in 1994, after which Maria began chemotherapy. “But by then the cancer had spread to her lungs, and she died on October 22, 1995, at 26 years old,” LiveAction notes.

On August 30, Pope Francis recognized Maria Cristina’s “heroic virtue,” with the Catholic Church now recognizing her as “Venerable.”

After choosing to forego chemotherapy to save her son’s life, she wrote to still unborn Riccardo, “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? 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,” she added.

In giving her life for that of her son, Maria Cristina showed the greatest love someone can show another.

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13 ESV).

Photo from LiveAction.