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Being a mother is the greatest privilege of all

Athletes, authors and royals can agree that it’s the greatest job of all

By on Wednesday, 19 December 2012


I noted a lovely little item on Rome Reports TV news agency for yesterday: Italian athlete, Valentina Vezzali, asking the Holy Father to bless her unborn child. In the YouTube clip she is seen with her hands held by his, saying “Holy Father, I wanted to ask you for a special blessing…I’m expecting a child.” The Pope then asks her how far advanced the pregnancy is and she replies “He is due in May. After the Olympics, the Lord gave me this victory which is greater than any Olympic gold medal; it’s a blessing…I hope to be a good example for youth and to be a good Christian.”

This interchange is so touching: both the fatherly solicitude of the Pope and the trusting request of Valentina. When she indicates that having a baby is a much greater thing than winning Olympic medals she, more than most people, knows what she is talking about: I had to look her up in Wiki to discover that she has won gold medals in fencing at four consecutive Olympics – Sydney, Athens, Beijing and London – for her prowess in the Individual Foil event, not to speak of achieving other gold medals at sundry World and European championships.

But like her Majesty the Queen who, according to actress Kate Winslet, told her at a recent celebrity show business line-up that being a mother “is the best job”, the athlete knows that worldly success, fame, rank, medals and crowns are less important than the privilege of being a mother. Although the Queen got some flak from the commentariat for allegedly using the word “job”, she was accurate as far as it goes, in what was probably a 20-second exchange: motherhood is a job; it is also a vocation, a lifelong commitment, a life-changing experience and everything else. When Miriam Gross, the well-known London literary editor, gave birth to her son in the mid 1960s, it was assumed she would returned to her full-time position on the Observer newspaper; tellingly, this committed feminist comments in her recently published memoir, “The thought of going back to full-time work seemed an affront against nature.”

Blessing expectant mothers, as Pope Benedict did to Valentina Vezzali, is one way, as the Life Reports agency states, of helping to “show the dignity of life” as well as becoming “a source of happiness and calm for mothers, knowing their child has divine protection.” It seems that this kind of informal, reverent acknowledgement of unborn life is being increasingly adopted at a local level. During the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization, the vice-president of the American bishops’ conference, Joseph Kurtz, proposed that this blessing be carried out as a matter of course in parishes around the world. It is not before time.

  • Benedict Carter

    I am the fourth of nine children and thank God for the parents that He gave me, faithful Catholics and open to life in fidelity to the Church they have loved all their lives despite the serious material and financial difficulties. May God bless them both, very elderly now, with the grace of final perseverance! As to my blessed mother, she is a saint. Her great prayer always was that “My children may believe as I believe”. 

    They do, mum, they do.

  • Timt-robertson

    This is a truly “good news” story, especially as it comes only a few days before the birth of Jesus, who is the good news for humanity’s salvation, through Mary his immaculate mother.

  • Charles

    The attack on motherhood and fatherhood by radical feminists and Marxists have resulted in disappearing fathers, single motherhood, and children brought up with no parental supervision. Children predominantly influenced by state education and television have grown up to be unprepared for deep critical thinking or taking moral leadership roles in society. The restoration of the prime importance motherhood and fatherhood is crucial if our culture is to survive and reverse the decadence of the anti-family left-wing agenda.

  • Matthew_Roth

    I was touched by the video as well, and am very proud that Archbishop Kurtz is my bishop. Good post.

  • scary goat

    Awww.  God bless them and you.  And that’s a good prayer for our children.  I might need to adopt that one.  Thanks.

  • JFJ

    My wife, best mum ever is a hero to me and has been for 33 years.    Thanks for this touching piece.

  • SJ

    Good article. Vezzali is an absolute fencing legend, too.

  • CABS

    And don`t they just show us fathers the way!  In my experience one of the greatest parts of a mother`s job begins when she becomes a grandmother.  I think perhaps that is what the Queen was thinking.  I was given four daughters and for many years the evening has been filled by `phone calls seeking advice, reporting successes and/or failures, laughter and jokes and so on.  My son sometimes rings me, but the real anchor of the family is my wife – and we all know it.

    It`s just “family” – and if you don`t know what it means, you don`t know what you`re missing.

    Perhaps that`s just as well, but in the end it`s all about the mother, with an honest man to back her up (or at least, one who TRIES to be nonest!)