Blessed Chiara Luce Badano, dying at the age 19, repeated that she “has everything.” “You see, I can’t run anymore, but now I would like to pass on to them (young people) the torch, like in the Olympics” – she told her mum.
She was born on October 29, 1971 in the small village of Sassello, Italy as Chiara Badano. Hchier middle name “Luce” in Italian means “light” and was given to her by Chiara Lubich, the founder of Focolare movement, which became the community in which Chiara Luce grew and thrived in her teenage years.
Chiara’s parents were devoted Catholics who waited for the arrival of their first and only daughter for eleven years. She lived a very “normal” life, loved sports and travel, dreamed of a large family, and had many friends. Like most teenagers would do, Chiara cried when it turned out that she had to repeat a year in school because she failed in geography. As a little kid, when asked to give some of her toys to the poor children, she chose the best ones. “I cannot give poor children something I don’t like,” she explained. Chiara was liked by many and was invited to join the class’ “elite” group of popular students. Instead, she decided to sit with those who were shy and marginalized, to make them feel included.
Her spiritual life was always deep, but became even more intensive after Chiara got involved in Focolare. The community is focused on the image of the forsaken Christ and on seeing Him in any other person who crosses our path. “I want to love those whom I don’t like,” Chiara wrote down after one of the meetings. She didn’t allow people to speak badly about anyone in her presence and promised herself to be particularly kind to those who behaved in a problematic way.
In the summer of 1988, while playing tennis, Chiara experienced such severe pain in her arm that she had to drop the racket. This was the moment when it was no longer possible to ignore the weakness and pain that has been bothering her for a long time. In the hospital, she received her diagnosis: an aggressive form of cancer which needed an immediate and invasive treatment.
Chiara’s friends were shocked, but when they came to console her, they found her worried but peaceful and left the house comforted by her. She received many gifts, and, occasionally, money, but she gave them all away and said that she has everything she needs. The suffering increased but Chiara didn’t despair; she knew she was waiting for something even bigger than the miracle of physical healing for which the others were praying.
When she learned that – contrary to what was planned – she would not be able to hand over her organs after death, because they were already too damaged, Chiara said: “Now I have nothing healthy, but I still have a heart and I can still love.” Ultimately, it turned out that Chiara’s corneas could be transplanted, and thanks to that final gift another girl would be able to see.
She died on October 7, 1990. In accordance with Chiara’s wishes, the people at the funeral sang hymns of joy and praise. A family friend standing next to the coffin instead of “Eternal Rest” spontaneously recited the “Gloria”. “Now Chiara Luce sees Jesus,” – the guests said to one another. On September 25, 2010 Chiara was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI.