The Saints, at times, have been difficult for me to connect with. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen the powerful intercession of many great Saints at work in my life, but they are often hard to relate to. I don’t have much in common with great mystics who have received the stigmata, the Apostles or martyrs for the Faith. I likely won’t spend my life in a cloistered convent or working in the slums of India.
The lived experiences of the greatest Saints feel so detached from my daily life, it can be easy for them to feel inaccessible. The Church, to this day, continues to canonize Saints, including some not so far removed from our own lives and modern experiences.
Two such women on the path to sainthood share the same name and home country, Blessed Chiara “Luce” Badano and Venerable Chiara Corbella Patrillo of Italy. (Both pronounced key-are-uh).
Their stories speak to us particularly as modern women, both of whom were called to love the Lord with all their hearts in the midst of their everyday lives, just like we are. They wore t-shirts and jeans, played instruments, loved sports, spent time with family and friends, and lived “normal” lives.
Allow me to introduce you to my friend(s), Chiara.
Blessed Chiara “Luce” Badano
On October 29th, 1971, Chiara Badano was born in Savona, Italy. An only child, Chiara was a devoted daughter, loyal friend, and fierce athlete. She loved playing tennis and spending time at the beach. More than that however, she had a deep personal love for the Lord that carried her throughout life, in the good times and bad.
One day while she was playing tennis, a splitting pain shot up her shoulder forcing her to drop her racket. She was diagnosed days later with an aggressive form of bone cancer and the prognosis was bleak. Within weeks she had lost the ability to walk and was in incredible pain. The next two years of her life were marked by intense suffering as the cancer spread. Chiara did not hesitate to offer every moment of her pain to the Lord, often saying, “For you Jesus, if You want this—so do I!”
Though bed-ridden for the last year of her life, Chiara continued to provide hope and encouragement to all around her, using a phone beside her bed to stay connected with loved ones. As the end drew near, doctors encouraged Chiara to take stronger doses of morphine to keep her pain manageable, but she refused, determined to offer everything she had to Jesus, seeking always to unite her suffering with His.
Chiara Badano passed away on October 7th, 1990, surrounded by her parents. She was 19 years old. Her cause for sainthood was opened in 1998 and she was given the title of "Blessed" following a miracle attributed to her intercession in 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI.
Venerable Chiara Corbella Patrillo
Chiara Corbella was born on January 9th, 1984 in Rome Italy. She was described as independent and decisive; committed to her decisions and always eager to serve others. Her faith grew in young adulthood under the guidance of her spiritual director and she met her soon to be husband on a pilgrimage in Croatia.
Chiara Corbella became Chiara Patrillo when she married Enrico Patrillo. Soon after their wedding, Chiara discovered she was pregnant with her first child. An ultrasound revealed their daughter, Maria, had a rare condition called anencephaly, and would not be able to survive outside the womb. Chiara chose to carry Maria to term, and was with her when she died less than half an hour after her birth. A few months later, Chiara was pregnant again, this time with a boy they would name Davide. Davide was severely malformed in several crucial organs. Like his sister before him, he died soon after birth.
When Chiara became pregnant with her third child, she discovered a growth on her tongue that was found to be cancerous. Against the advice of many doctors, she made the decision to delay lifesaving treatment until her son was born, knowing the risks to her own health she would incur by doing so. She delivered a healthy baby boy, named Francesco.
Shortly after Francesco was born, Chiara became a terminal cancer patient. The last few weeks of her life were spent in a home near the ocean, with her husband and a priest by her side. Friends and family are quick to point out that Chiara struggled in her suffering, just as anyone would. She was frightened of Purgatory, hated vomiting, and often felt overcome by pain.
The thing that set Chiara apart however, was her ability to cast all of her fears and anxieties on the Father, who she knew loved her. She welcomed His plan for her life, and in doing so radiated joy and peace that friends would describe as "otherworldly." Chiara died at home on June 13th, 2012, at the age of 28.
Her cause for sainthood was officially opened in 2017.
The Road to Sainthood
As we journey in faith we are blessed to be surrounded by witnesses who support us in prayer and help us seek God’s will in our lives. Chiara Luce Badano and Chiara Corbella Patrillo are two such witnesses, who show by their beautiful examples that the path to holiness doesn’t have to be found in grand gestures, mystic visions, or starting a religious order. It can be found for each of us in living our “normal” everyday lives with extraordinary love.
Want to learn more about these incredible women? Both have websites (here and here) that share their stories in detail, provide prayers of intercession and give updates on their respective canonization processes.
Blessed Chiara Luce Badano and Venerable Chiara Corbella Patrillo, pray for us!
Shelby Hennen is a young professional who hails from the Midwestern metropolis of Kansas City, MO. She loves a good book, a good chat with a friend and a good taco joint.