Chiara did not have any brothers or sisters. Her parents, Ruggero and Maria Teresa Badano were married eleven years before they were able to conceive Chiara. They had prayed fervently for a baby. You can imagine how overjoyed they were when on October 29, 1971, a baby daughter was born to them.
The family lived in Sassello, a city in northwest Italy. Her parents were faithful Catholics who from Chiara's childhood taught her the faith. Her mother tells a story of when Chiara came home one day with a beautiful, large red apple. Her mother asked her where she got it. Chiara said she got it from the neighbor's orchard, but she had not asked the neighbor for it. Her mother told her that it was wrong to have taken the apple without asking and that she must go to the neighbor, apologize, and return it. Chiara did not want to do it. She was embarrassed. Her mother explained it was important to own up to her actions. Hesitantly she went and told the neighbor exactly what she had done. Later that evening, the neighbor returned with a big box of red apples telling Chiara that she had learned an important lesson that day!
In 1980 the family attended a Focolare Conference in Rome. Focolare is a twentieth century Catholic movement founded by Chiara Lubich in 1943. Its mission is to recognize the brotherhood of all men and women. In its own words, "It aims at spreading the message of unity worldwide. Inspired by Jesus’ prayer to the Father, 'May they all be one'” (John 17:21). It was approved by the Catholic Church in 1962 and is officially known as the Work of Mary. You can read more about it here:https://www.focolare.org/en/chi-siamo/
Chiara was very attracted to the Focolare movement and began writing the founder, Chiara Lubich after she met her when she was sixteen. The core of the Focolare's spirituality is devotion to the forsaken Jesus. During this season of Lent, this is an image of Christ we might all look to for inspiration. In Chiara's own words she said, "I discovered that Jesus forsaken is the key to unity with God, and I want to choose him as my only spouse. I want to be ready to welcome him when he comes. To prefer him above all else." As a young woman her relationship with Jesus was deepening. Her life as a teen was full with the Focolare movement, her family, friends, school, and tennis.
While playing tennis during the summer of 1988, Chiara experienced pain in her shoulder. Initially she thought nothing of it, but it persisted and would not go away. Eventually she underwent a battery of tests to determine what the problem was. It turned out that she had a rare form of bone cancer, osteogenic sarcoma. The diagnosis was terminal and despite various treatments she experienced paralysis of her legs. Her simple and deep love of Jesus inspired her to say, "It's for you, Jesus; if you want it, I want it, too." Friends told of visiting Chiara hoping to cheer her up, but left needing her and the life she was drawing them to even more. One of her doctors is recorded as saying, "Through her smile and through her eyes full of light, she showed us that death doesn't exist; only life exists."
Chiara Luce Badano was a courageous teen who loved Jesus and loved her parents. She made dinner reservations for Valentine's Day for her parents and insisted that they stay out until midnight that evening rather than remaining with her in the hospital. Before she died on October 7, 1990, she bought a Christmas card and wrote, "Holy Christmas 1990. Thank you for everything. Happy New Year." She hid the card among some others so her mother would be sure to find it.
When the Cardinal of Turin heard of Chiara's illness, he visited her in the hospital. When he saw her, he asked her, "The light in your eyes is splendid. Where does it come from?" She answered him, "I try to love Jesus as much as I can." The final evening of her life, with her family and friends surrounding her bed, she said, "Bye, Mum, be happy, because I am happy."
Each of our children and grandchildren are precious and unique. They are not meant to be anyone else but themselves. Jesus calls each of us to be the unique person He created us to be.
Chiara lived her life with love for her family, friends, and Jesus. Jesus was the center of her life. Let us ask her to help our children and grandchildren to live their lives with love for their family and friends with Jesus as their true center.
"Oh, Mama, young people...young people...they are the future. You see, I can't run anymore, but how I would like to pass on to them the torch, like in the Olympics? Young people have only one life, and it's worthwhile to spend it well."
Blessed Chiara, Pray for Our Children and Grandchildren!
For more information on the life of Blessed Chiara Luce Badano
Books on Blessed Chiara Luce Badano. There are many books on her life. Here are two you might enjoy. Included is a novena prayer to the right of the Chiara Luce: A life lived to the full book.
O Father, fount of every good,
we give You thanks for the wonderful
testimony of Blessed Chiara Badano.
Filled with the Holy Spirit
and guided by the radiant light of Jesus,
she believed firmly in Your infinite love,
and wished to return it with all her strength,
surrendering herself in complete trust
to Your paternal will.
We humbly beseech You
that You may also grant us
the gift to live with You and for You,
and ask You, if it be Your will,
for the grace __________________
through Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.