For all the saints who from their labors rest,who Thee by faith before the world confessed; Thy name,Jesus,be forever blest.Alleluia, Alleluia!
For Martyrs, who with rapture kindled eye, saw the bright crown descending from the sky, and seeing, grasped it, thee we glorify. Alleluia, Alleluia!
For God is not unjust; he will not overlook your work and the love that you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do. Hebrews 6:10
Who is this beautiful, young Italian saint who looks so much like one of us, who has been described as “remarkably average?”
Blessed Chiara Badano was born in 1971 in a small town in northern Italy. She was an only child, her parents praying for 11 years before being able to conceive. She grew up to be a normal teenager, enjoying time with her friends, sports, music, and everyday life in general.
Yet in the midst of this normalcy was the heart of an incredible soul. At the young age of 9, she joined the Focolare Movement, a lay movement in the Church that focuses on Jesus Forsaken. After a particularly deep experience as a teenager, Blessed Chiara asked the foundress of the movement to give her a new name to signify this shift in her life. She then became known as Chiara Luce, which means clear light, because “your luminous face shows your love for Jesus.”
At the age of 16, Blessed Chiara was playing tennis when she experienced a sharp pain in her shoulder. Tests revealed that she had a painful form of bone cancer. Upon learning of the diagnosis, she exclaimed, "It's for you, Jesus; if you want it, I want it, too." This is when the light of her soul truly began to shine as never before. As the disease progressed, she refused morphine, wanting to stay lucid and offer her sufferings up for Christ. With each lock of hair that would fall from chemotherapy, Chiara would simply offer it to God saying, "For you, Jesus." One of her doctors said, "Through her smile, and through her eyes full of light, she showed us that death doesn't exist; only life exists.”
After suffering for two years, Blessed Chiara passed away just shy of her 20th birthday, on October 7, 1990. She planned her entire funeral as if it was her wedding - even being buried in a wedding dress - for she knew this would be her union to her everlasting Spouse. She told her mother, "Don't shed any tears for me. I'm going to Jesus. At my funeral, I don't want people crying, but singing with all their hearts." She was beatified in 2010, after a young Italian boy was miraculously cured of meningitis through her intercession.
After reading her story, one of the most profound things for me was her knowledge that Jesus was always with her, even if it was Jesus Forsaken. In my own struggle with anxiety, it is so tempting to feel like Christ has abandoned me in my suffering. But in reality, that’s when He’s the nearest, and when His light can shine the brightest.
Reflection: Blessed Chiara also once told her mother, "Oh Mamma, 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." Are you spending your life well? Ask Bl. Chiara to help you see with a “clear light,” and to let that light shine from your eyes to all you meet.
To Jesus through Mary-Emily Naylor