Wednesday, November 4, 2015

SAINTATHON 2015: Blessed Chiara Badano

Welcome, one and all, to Unpleasant Accents' second annual Saintathon! To commemorate our anniversary, which falls on All Saints Day, our team is posting about their favourite Saints throughout the week. This year, Tani starts us off with Blessed Chiara Badano:

Human beings have always had a strange relationship with suffering. In A.D. 524, the philosopher Boethius wrote, "Finally, and this is the last straw, the judgement of most people is based not on the merits of a case but on the fortune of its outcome; they think that only things which turn out happily are good." Perhaps that is why Blessed Chiara Badano so confuses, and yet so captures the imagination of, many people around the world.

Bl. Chiara at 16

Bl. Chiara is a very recent arrival in heaven; in fact, most of the writers here at Unpleasant Accents were young children at the time of her death in October of 1990. Chiara herself was only 18 when she passed away in a haze of almost unbearable suffering and almost incomprehensible peace. Her life may have been short, but it was marked with the quiet holiness that always sets saints apart. 

Chiara was born in Sassello, Italy and was an only child to parents who had prayed for over a decade for a baby. Like every child, she could be mischievous; this was no perfectly behaved saint-in-the-making! At age 9, she joined the Focolare movement, an ecumenical movement of peace and holiness. She went to Mass regularly and prayed constantly. Chiara also enjoyed tennis, swimming, pop music, and going out with her friends. Life was good for this bright, cheerful teenager. 

In 1988, Chiara was 16 years old when a terrible pain in her shoulder forced her into doctor's office after doctor's office. Finally, the diagnosis: terminal bone cancer. The active teenager would soon become bedridden, her once strong body would waste away, and pain would be her constant companion. It would have been very easy for young Chiara to lose hope, to become angry at God, and to descend into despair. But she never let her faith be shaken. She saw her pain as a gift that she could give to God to make up for sins, and she offered a daily sacrifice of joy to Him, praising Him constantly for His goodness and mercy. When people around her were tempted to despair, she would encourage them to be strong. Her love for the people around her was incredible, and she is quoted as having said, "I have nothing left, but I still have my heart, and with that, I can always love."

Bl. Chiara, shortly before her death
For two years, she wasted away, without ever losing her faith, hope, and charity. Finally, the end was near. Chiara requested to be put in a wedding dress to meet her Bridegroom. Her last words were, "Good-bye. Be happy, because I am." Her funeral was attended by hundreds of people, and she's still much beloved in my Catholic teenage girl circles. To the world, her life is a tragedy, the story of a beautiful young woman who died young, without making any money or becoming in any way famous. But we can look at her story and see a beautiful young woman made even more beautiful by her love and courage, whose fame is in her ability to answer prayers and give inspiration to us when we suffer.

For me, living with suffering every day, Bl. Chiara is a great comfort. She's proof that suffering doesn't have to steal faith or joy. Just a few months younger than me when she died, I can look to her as a peer in heaven. Her example gives me strength and courage. To the world, her story didn't end happily, but we know that in heaven, she's perfectly joyful and at peace.

Bl. Chiara Badano, pray for us!

Saint Stats:

Born: October 29, 1971

Died: October 7, 1990

Beatified: September 25, 2010

Canonised: TBD

Feast Day: October 29

Patronage: World Youth Day (Read more here!)

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