“The first day of the year, from one to two at night, she stayed before Jesus in adoration. She loved to pray sitting on the ground, as a sign of humility and poverty.”
Besides doing well in school, Sabattini liked to paint, play the piano, and run track.
At the age of 12, she met Fr. Oreste Benzi and the group he founded, the Pope John XXIII Community, which emphasizes service to the poorest and weakest of society. Sabattini felt called to join in their activities to help people in need.
In 1974, she took part in a trip to the Dolomites, a mountain range in northeastern Italy, where teens accompanied people with disabilities. The time spent in nature and helping those with disabilities left a big impression on Sabattini, who told her mother after the trip: “We broke our backs, but those are people I will never abandon.”
During high school, she continued to volunteer with the John XXIII Community and assist the poor, including from her own savings.
She also lived for a period in one of the community’s group homes, where members welcomed the marginalized, including the disabled.
“I can’t oblige others to think like me, even if I think it is right,” she wrote in her journal at age 16. “I can only let them know my joy.”
At 17, she met Guido Rossi, and the two started dating the year after. For their first date, Sabattini brought Rossi to a cemetery, so they could visit the graves of people who had been forgotten.
They attended the John XXIII Community’s youth group together. Four years into their relationship, Sabattini wrote that dating was “something integral with vocation.”
“What I experience of availability and love towards others is what I also experience for Guido, they are two things interpenetrated, at the same level, although with some differences,” she wrote in her diary.
After she graduated from her scientific high school with excellent grades, Sabattini was torn between leaving immediately to be a missionary in Africa, or starting medical school.
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But with the help of her spiritual director, Sabattini decided to enroll in med school at the University of Bologna. It was her dream to one day serve as part of medical missions in Africa.
In the summer of 1982, as a drug problem began to explode in Italy, the 21-year-old medical student began to volunteer at a community for drug addicts.
The year before, she had written in her journal: “Sandra, love everything you do. Love deeply the minutes you live, which you are allowed to live. Try to feel the joy of the present moment, whatever it is, to never miss the connection.”
Sabattini was with her boyfriend, Rossi, and another friend when she was fatally hit by a car on the morning of April 29, 1984.
At her funeral, Fr. Benzi said: “Sandra has done what God sent her for. The world is not divided into good and bad, but into who loves and who doesn’t love. And Sandra, we know, loved very much.”
Sabattini was declared venerable by Pope Francis on March 6, 2018, and a miracle received through her intercession was confirmed in October 2019, which paved the way for her beatification.