.- The Congregation for the Causes of the Saints issued a decree last week recognizing the heroic virtues of Chiara “Luce” Badano, a young Italian girl who belonged to the Focolare Movement and died in 1990 at the age of 18.
The new “Venerable” Chiara was born in Sassello, Liguria, on October 29, 1971, to the joy of her parents, truck driver Ruggero Badano, and Maria Teresa Caviglia, who waited eleven years to have a child.
“Amidst our great joy, we understood immediately that she was not only our daughter but also a daughter of God,” her mother said according to a biography published by Focolare.
Since childhood, Chiara showed a deep love for God and a strong but docile character. She was joyful, kind and very active.
At the age of nine she joined the Focolare Movement. In 1985 Chiara moved to Savona to continue her education, and according to her biographers, “She had a difficult time despite her great efforts. She was held back one year and this made her suffer greatly.”
Chiara had many friends and loved sports, especially tennis, swimming and hiking. She dreamed of being a flight attendant and enjoyed dancing and singing. However, at the age of 16 she decided to pursue the consecrated life.
She had a close relationship with the foundress of the Focolare, Chiara Lubich, who gave her the name, “Luce.”
Soon afterwards she was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in her shoulder. She began intense chemotherapy while she continued her daily life with the same joy and faith.
This joy and faith moved Chiara to give all of her savings to a friend who was going to be a missionary in Africa, even though she was ill.
Despite the efforts by doctors, her illness progressed rapidly and she lost the use of her legs. “If I had to choose between walking or going to heaven I’d choose heaven,” she told her family.
In July of 1989 she suffered severe hemorrhaging and her death appeared imminent. She told her parents, “Don’t cry for me. I am going to Jesus. At my funeral I don’t want people to cry, but rather to sing with all their voices.”
On her deathbed, Chiara prayed for the strength to fulfill God’s will. “I don’t ask Jesus to come for me to bring me to heaven; I don’t want to give him the impression that I don’t want to suffer anymore,” she said. She asked her mother to help her prepare for her funeral, or her “wedding feast,” as she called it.
She gave her mother detailed instructions about how she should be dressed, the music, the flowers, the hymns and the readings. She asked her mother to repeat the words, “Now Chiara, go to Jesus.”
She died on October 7, 1990, surrounded by her parents. Her friends were gathered outside the door. Her final words were, “Ciao. Be happy because I am.”
Some two thousand people attended her funeral.
Chiara’s cause for beatification was opened in 1999 by Bishop Livio Maritano, the bishop of Acqui at the time. He said his decision was based on Chiara’s “way of living, especially the extraordinary example she gave during the last stage of her life.” “I had no doubt about promoting her cause,” the bishop said.