Chiara Badano: A Vibrant Young Woman
Chiara was the first and only child of parents Ruggero and Maria, who had been married for eleven years and had been eagerly waiting their first child. Though her parents were obviously faithful, they later stated that the birth of Chiara greatly renewed their marriage and specifically that the grace of their sacramental marriage increased. Chiara's mother, Maria, noted that her father would often pray at shrines asking for a child and that the parents both knew, immediately, that their child ultimately belonged to God, and they had a responsibility for raising the child in the faith. Such is often the case for young people who display great faith.
Signs of Sainthood as a Child
As a young girl, and an only child, Chiara had many toys. One day, her mother suggested perhaps she give a few away, and she replied that she couldn't, because the toys were hers. A few minutes later she heard Chiara saying "yes" and "no." After a while, she asked for a bag from her mother and placed all her new toys in the bag. Her mother protested the choice, saying they were the new ones. Chiara responded "I can't give old toys to poor children." She chose what was better for others.
Another great story is regarding her young instinct to love others with Christ's heart. A girl in her class had chickenpox, and was ostracized because of it. So Chiara asked for permission to go to the girl's house one evening to do homework, so that she wouldn't feel so alone. Her reasoning?
I decided to do my homework over at her place so she wouldn’t feel lonely. I think that love is more important than fear.”
Radical Love in Adolescence
This radical commitment to love others would extend throughout her life. Her mother asked her, in her youth, how she interacted with others. She was deeply committed to Christ, and wanted nothing more than to spread the Gospel. But her mother wanted to know her methods. How did she actually go about evangelizing? Her response is beautiful:
I should not speak about Jesus, rather, I have to give him to them.” And how do you do so? “By the way I listen to them, by the way I dress and above all, by the way I love them.”
Love, Suffering, and Joy
As a teenager, she was an athlete and suffered an injury playing tennis. After it didn't heal, her doctor discovered she has osteogenic sarcoma, a painful type of cancer that had already spread. She began to fall apart physically, enduring two surgeries, the loss of use of her leg, and loss of all of her hair. But her desire to love others dramatically changed the situation of both her visitors and other hospital patients.
Her friends reported that they imagined going to the hospital to cheer up Chiara, but Chiara wound up inspiring them, and giving them joy. Also, she used her free time in the hospital to visit other sick patients, even going on walks, while she was able, despite the serious pain it caused her. As her pain increased and she became confined to a bed, she refused pain medication, choosing instead to be more lucid. She repeated often the adage that if Jesus wanted the suffering, so did she. Her only goal was to suffer with and for Jesus. Here are her words about suffering:
It reduces my lucidity,” and she adds, “and there’s only one thing I can do now: to offer my suffering to Jesus because I want to share as much as possible in his suffering on the cross.”There are many more really impressive stories from her short life, and her story gives us a great example of the beauty, love, and especially the infectious joy that comes from living a life dedicated to Christ and to others. For a father about to have a second daughter, I see in Chiara a beautiful role model, a person to whom I can point and tell my little girls: live like she did!
Read more about Chiara Badano here and here.