Pilgrim, Italian Laywoman, Loving Wife, Joyful and Sacrificial Mother

© 2012 Famiglia Corbella Petrillo

Chiara Corbella Petrillo

Chiara was born into a faithful Christian family, and was part of the “Wojytla generation” of Catholics growing up during Pope John Paul II’s papacy.  At the age of 18, she met the love of her life, Enrico, while on pilgrimage in Medjugorje. She and Enrico were engaged just a few months later. However, their engagement proved to be a journey of discernment for them both, and lasted almost six years, including a break-up at one point. However, the Lord was persistent, and they began dating again with the guidance of a spiritual director. Of their long engagement, Chiara said, “It did not work until I understood that the Lord was not taking anything away from me… quite the opposite, the Lord was giving me everything and He alone knew with whom I was supposed to share my life. Until that moment I understood nothing!”

“It did not work until I understood that the Lord was not taking anything away from me… quite the opposite, the Lord was giving me everything and He alone knew with whom I was supposed to share my life. Until that moment I understood nothing!”

Chiara and Enrico were happily married in 2008 and became pregnant shortly thereafter. After the first ultrasound, they learned that their unborn daughter, Maria, was not developing properly. With no hesitation, Enrico and Chiara chose life and and loved their baby through her birth and brief life on earth. They continued to pour out their love for the Lord during Maria’s funeral as they sang His praises at Mass. For Maria’s funeral, a memorial card was given out with the phrase “We are born never to die.”

A few months after Maria passed away, Chiara became pregnant again. This time, the ultrasound of their son, David, showed that he was also affected by a genetic disease that would take his life once born. Once more, the young parents joyfully accepted their cross, and had thirty minutes with their son after he was born.

A third time, Enrico and Chiara became pregnant with their son Francesco. Miraculously, the ultrasound revealed a healthy baby. However, it was Chiara who was then diagnosed with cancer. Despite knowing that continuing the pregnancy could pose a risk to Chiara’s life, she and her husband chose to forgo treatment in order to give birth to a healthy son. During her pregnancy she lost the ability to speak and swallow and was not even able to use painkillers. Despite the pain, Chiara was always smiling.

“Whatever you do, it will only be meaningful if you think about eternal life. If you truly love, you will realize that nothing belongs to you, because everything is a gift.”

After Francesco’s healthy birth, the cancer continued to spread in Chiara’s body and in the end, it took her life. She left her son with the words: “Whatever you do, it will only be meaningful if you think about eternal life. If you truly love, you will realize that nothing belongs to you, because everything is a gift.”

Chiara passed away on June 13, 2012 at the young age of 28. Her cause for canonization was opened on the fifth anniversary of her death.