After 11 years of prayer for a child, Chiara’s birth was a special gift to Ruggero and Maria Teresa Badano. When welcoming their only daughter into the world on October 29, 1971, her parents understood that she was God’s child first, and her arrival deepened their experience of the sacramental grace of marriage. Chiara was born in the small, quiet mountain town of Sassello, several miles off the northwest coast of Italy. She grew up in a home where the example of virtue and the witness of love formed her conscience and taught her discipline. From an early age, Chiara was known for her generous, outgoing, and gentle personality.
When Chiara was nine years old, the Badano family traveled to Rome for a “Family Fest.” There, the Focolare Movement helped Chiara encounter Christ’s love in a new light. After the event, Chiara began making friends with the youth of the Focolare Movement. Regarding her enthusiasm for the faith, Chiara wrote, “I have rediscovered the Gospel … I was not an authentic Christian because I did not live it fully. I won’t and cannot remain illiterate of such an extraordinary message. Now I want to make this wonderful book the only goal of my life.”
“I have rediscovered the Gospel … I was not an authentic Christian because I did not live it fully. I won’t and cannot remain illiterate of such an extraordinary message. Now I want to make this wonderful book the only goal of my life.”
Chiara did so with special attention. She would visit her sick classmates, the elderly in town, and the homeless she met in the streets. On a class trip to the Sassello nursing home, Chiara was enchanted by one of the residents and would often return to visit her, wash her face, and adjust her bed. As a teenager, Chiara enjoyed music, coffee shops, spending time with friends, and sports. She was given the nickname Chiara “Luce,” meaning “light,” due to her radiant enthusiasm and joy.
Chiara had to leave her beloved Sassello and move to Savona to attend high school. She failed her first year there and encountered many other disappointments; however, Chiara continued to grow in her faith throughout the experience of these trials.
When Chiara was seventeen, she was taken to the hospital for acute shoulder pain experienced during a tennis match. She then received the diagnosis of osteogenic sarcoma with metastases. Chiara was initially devastated by her illness, but quickly learned how to say “yes” to Jesus in the midst of her greatest suffering.
At the beginning of chemotherapy, Chiara lost use of her legs. She wrote, “I felt so little. The path seemed so hard. I often felt oppressed by the pain, and I used to repeat: ‘For you, Jesus: if you want this, so do I!’” Chiara’s smile and attentive love never ceased. Her family would even catch her singing while she was alone. Chiara’s friends who visited her in the hospital said, “At first we thought we would visit Chiara to keep her spirits up, however, we soon realized that in fact, we were the ones who needed her. Her life was like a magnet drawing us towards her.”
“For you, Jesus: if you want this, so do I!”
Chiara later refused morphine, saying “It will take away my lucidity and I can only offer Jesus my pain.” When the treatment stopped working, Chiara began planning her funeral, desiring it to be a celebration and choosing to wear a white dress, like a wedding gown for Jesus. Chiara died on October 7, 1990.
Feast Day: October 29