Chiara “Luce” Badano, a teenage Italian member of the Focolare Movement, was beatified on Saturday. Church leaders and others remembered her in celebrations throughout the weekend for her example of love, Christian coherence and charity. They called her a reminder that “everyone has sufficient grace to become saints.”
Born in 1971, Chiara died in 1990 at nearly 19 years of age. Her biography describes a life lived in total devotion to God and abandonment to His will. Many witnesses have testified to the happiness she transmitted in spite of the pain of the bone cancer which eventually took her life.
Thousands of people gathered at the Marian Sanctuary of Divine Love just outside of Rome for the Mass and Rite of Beatification on Saturday afternoon. The young blessed was remembered by Archbishop Angelo Amato during the celebration as a girl with “a heart crystalline like water from the source.”
Noting specific acts of charity throughout her short life, Archbishop Angelo Amato, head of the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints, cited one witness' testimony that being with her gave a person the "feeling of finding God."
Thanking the Lord for her life of charity and goodness in spite of the difficulties of her disease, the archbishop remembered Chiara as a "modern, sporty, positive girl, (who) transmits to us a message of optimism and hope."
He added that she shows that “the brief season of youth can be lived in holiness” and also that “today there are virtuous young people, who in family, at school, in society do not fritter away their lives.”
The archbishop called her beatification "good news" in the midst of a world "rich with well-being, but often sick with sadness and unhappiness." He concluded that Chiara's story invites all people, young and old, to a "freshness and enthusiasm for the faith" while serving as a reminder that "everyone has sufficient grace to become saints."
After a youth celebration in Chiara's honor at the Vatican's Paul VI Hall which ran late into the evening on Saturday, Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone presided over a thanksgiving Mass at the basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-walls on Sunday morning. Cardinal Bertone spoke of the saintly young woman as a "brilliant" and "credible” example of “authenticity and altruism.”
The cardinal recalled a conversation with the Holy Father last week on the flight back from the U.K., when the Pope told him that "this, our Blessed is a valuable example for young people."
Pope Benedict spoke of this example in his pre-Angelus catechesis on Sunday, which participants in the Mass followed along with from big screens set up at St. Paul's basilica after the morning Eucharistic celebration with Cardinal Bertone.
Speaking of Chiara's way of living as a demonstration of how Love, "with a capital 'L'," gives true happiness, he said that for everyone, she was "a ray of light, as her nickname says: 'Chiara Luce' (Clear Light)."
The Pope noted that the celebration is not only for those from her parish, local diocese and the Focolare Movement. Rather, her beatification was a festival for all young people, who can “find in her an example of Christian coherence."
He recalled the "full adherence to the will of God" in her life down to her last words, addressed to her mother: "Mom, bye. Be happy because I am."
Chiara "Luce" Badano's feast day will be celebrated every year on Oct. 29.