In each of her pregnancies people were asking the same question: why didn’t she choose an abortion? Chiara Corbella Petrillo, however, cherished every moment with her babies. Now her beatification process is officially open.
She was born in 1984 in Rome. Raised in a very devoted Catholic family, she met her future husband Erico during the pilgrimage do Medjugorie. Although, at the beginning of their relationship they needed to overcome certain difficulties, finally they discovered they were meant for each other and wanted to build their marriage on Christ.
Soon after the wedding, Chiara discovered she was pregnant. From the very beginning they treated this child as a great blessing and couldn’t wait to hold her in their arms. During the much-awaited ultrasound they received terrible news. Their little girl had anencephaly and the doctors gave her no chance of survival outside the womb. Chiara and Enrico were immediately offered abortion and, after they refused it, very few people understood their reasoning.
“She is our daughter. We will accompany her as long as we can.” – that was Enrico’s answer to all those who were asking.
After birth, Maria lived very shortly but every second was filled with love of her parents. Medical examination showed that there were no genetic problems for Chiara and Enrico, and they were very likely to have a perfectly healthy child next time. After they found out about another pregnancy they hoped ultrasounds would become only routine. But it was instead another hard experience for them – their little boy had no legs. They almost immediately started preparing themselves to be good parents for their disabled son, looking for information on the internet and checking medical possibilities, but that was not the end of the trial. At the next appointment they were informed that the internal organs of Davide were so deformed that he was completely incompatible with life.
They could only hold him briefly as he was passing to eternal life. “God gave us two special children, but He asked us to accompany them only until birth. He allowed us to hold them, baptize them, and return them to the hands of the Father” – Chiara said.
Not long after that she became pregnant again. We can only imagine how relieved Chiara and Enrico were when the ultrasound showed that this baby was going to be born perfectly healthy. First few months were the time of hope and joyful expectations. However, in the fifth month of pregnancy Chiara became diagnosed with a bad lesion on the tongue, which later turned out to be a type of cancer. She refused any medical procedure which would pose a danger to the life or health of her pre-born child, despite being fully aware of the possible consequences.
They certainly didn’t have such a situation in their plans, but through the suffering grown to put a complete trust in God, even without knowing what the future will bring. The miracle, for which many of their friends hoped, didn’t happen but the peace and internal joy they had was a miracle itself. Francesco was born strong and healthy, but Chiara’s condition became terminal. Enrico shared with her the doctors’ diagnosis in the Holy Week, when they were both in the Chapel on their knees before the Blessed Sacrament.
Seeing the excruciating pain of his wife and not being able to help, being “at the foot of the cross” he suffered too. Just before Chiara’s death he asked her if truly the cross is sweet, like the Lord says. She smiled, and softly replied, ‘Yes, Enrico, it is very sweet.”.
On June 13, 2012 Chiara passed away. Her funeral gathered crowds and was a celebration of eternal life and faith in the resurrection. Those who came listened to the letter which she prepared for Francesco for his 1st birthday.
“God never takes anything away. And if He takes away, it is because He wants to give you so much more.” – she wrote.