Chiara Corbella’s beatification cause to take a step forward in June

Servant of God Chiara Corbella Petrillo Photo Courtesy of Christian Gennari wwwchiaracorbellapetrilloit CNA 7 18 18 2 Servant of God Chiara Corbella Petrillo. | Credit: Christian Gennari/chiaracorbellapetrillo.it

Servant of God Chiara Corbella Petrillo, the joyful young mother who died of cancer in 2012, will be one step closer next month to being declared a saint.

The Diocese of Rome announced Wednesday that it will hold the closing session of the diocesan phase of her cause for beatification on Friday, June 21, at noon in the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran.

Since her death at the age of 28, Corbella has inspired many by her witness to faith and joy amid suffering and loss.

Corbella met her husband, Enrico Petrillo, at the age of 18 while on a pilgrimage to Međugorje. They married six years later in Assisi on Sept. 21, 2008. 

Within the first two years of their marriage, Chiara and Enrico suffered the death of two children, both of whom died less than an hour after birth.

Their first child, Maria Grazia Letizia, was diagnosed in utero with anencephaly, a serious birth defect in which a baby is born without parts of the brain or skull. Chiara chose to carry the baby to term and her daughter lived just long enough to be baptized in the hospital, dying within a half hour of her birth in June 2009.

During her second pregnancy, ultrasounds revealed that her son had no legs or kidneys. Baby Davide Giovanni died in June 2010 after living for 38 minutes. 

The couple chose to share their testimony about the few minutes that they were able to spend with their children at pro-life events in Italy. They also underwent genetic testing that revealed no pathological risk to their future children.

“The Lord gave us two special children: Maria Grazia Letizia and Davide Giovanni, but he asked us to accompany them only until their birth. He gave us the opportunity to embrace them, have them baptized, and then entrust them into the hands of the Father, all with a peace and joy that we had never experienced before,” Chiara recounted.

Corbella became pregnant for a third time with their son Francesco in 2010 and ultrasounds showed that he was in perfect health. The joyful news was short-lived as Chiara was diagnosed with cancer. Doctors removed a tumor on her tongue that turned out to be cancerous.

Chiara rejected any form of treatment that posed a risk to her unborn son, prioritizing his life over her own. Her healthy baby boy was born on May 30, 2011.

As the cancer metastasized, it became difficult for Chiara to speak and see clearly. A photo of her wearing an eye patch with a big smile was taken in April 2012, less than two weeks after she learned that her condition was terminal. She prepared for death by receiving the Blessed Sacrament daily. 

In a letter that Chiara wrote to their son Francesco, she recalled the line from the Gospel: “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Her husband, Enrico, has recounted how he asked Chiara about this not long before she died. He shared her response in a speech in St. Peter’s Square in 2016. 

“I asked her: ‘Chiara, is this cross really sweet like the Lord says?’ She smiled at me, and with a frail voice replied: ‘Yes, Enrico. It is very sweet.’”

Chiara died on June 13, 2012, at home in her wedding gown, surrounded by her family and friends, one year after her son was born.

Corbella’s cause for canonization was announced on June 13, 2017, the fifth anniversary of her death.

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Her parents were invited to tell her story at the 2023 World Youth Day in Lisbon, where they shared that Corbella’s son Francesco is 11 years old and inspired by his mother’s witness.

With the closing of the diocesan investigation into Corbella’s life, virtues, and sanctity, the documented testimonies and other materials for her cause for beatification will be sealed and sent to the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Causes of Saints for further scrutiny.

The next step in the process will be for the pope to recognize her as someone who lived a life of heroic virtue and declare her venerable. 

Corbella will need two miracles attributed to her intercession to be declared a saint. 

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