Love is more important than fear.”Blessed Chiara Badano
Chiara was a vibrant young teen who played sports, was incredibly social, keenly interested in others, and never gave up an opportunity to genuinely live out the Good News of the Gospels in her life.
Chiara Badano was born in beautiful Savona in northern Italy on October 29, 1971. She was an only child and was given a solid Christian education. Her mother described her as generous, outgoing, and gentle. At four, she insisted on donating her new toys to poor children because it wasn’t right to only give away old ones.
Her life was full of little acts of love. One evening she wrote, “One of my classmates has chicken pox and everyone is afraid to go visit her. With my parent’s permission, I decided to do my homework over at her place so she wouldn’t feel lonely. I think love is more important than fear.”
This heart of service and acute attention to the lives of others would be a hallmark of her life. In the Gospels, Jesus asks the young rich man to ‘give all he has to the poor’. Well, Chiara did that, and then more through the giving not only of her possessions but also of her time, love, and open personality. Chiara was devoted to finding ways to understand the gospel messages in her daily life. To bring the message of Good News to all those she could, even by just being present and available.
Beyond her remarkable spiritual sensitivity, Chiara was a like every other teen: cheerful, lively, outgoing and reserved all at the same time. A true sports lover: she skated, and played tennis; she loved the mountains, but she loved the beach the most.
She had many friends. They would confide in her their doubts and struggles, as they found in her an extraordinary capability to listen, sensitivity, and a profoundness, which was truly unusual for a teenager.
To her mother, who asked her if she ever spoke of God to them, Chiara responded,
“I must not talk about Jesus, I give them Jesus. First, by listening, then with the way I dress, but especially with my way of loving.”
Chiara’s special ability was to deeply integrate the Gospel message into the way that she lived. Her desire to love others so purely and with everything that she had was evident. This gave her great joy and she was never hesitant to allow God to move in her life. In her 17th year God would begin to test her love the most. Jesus would ask Chiara, in his own way, “do you love me?” and Chiara would respond “yes” many times over.
In the summer of 1989 Chiara was diagnosed with brain cancer. When she heard the news she didn’t speak to anyone for 20 minutes–she simply laid fully dressed in her coat and shoes. Her mother describes it as, “she was battling to say ‘yes’ to God. Many times, she had said it in happiness, but now she was asked to say it in the greatest suffering.”
She would go on to lose the use of her body, and the pain would be horrendous. Yet, through it all Chiara never stopped connecting with her friends. She refused pain medication because, “the pain is all I have left to give to Jesus.”
The life of Blessed Chiara Badona was simple, relevant, and filled with a childlike ‘foolishness’ to trust and bring joy to others. Even in pain, love is possible. The challenge is, how do we live the good news in our lives? How can we live a life filled with radiance and the powerful presence of God’s love?
Liz Artymko is a young woman who works as a Young Adult Coordinator for the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, The Redemptorists. She has been working in ministry for 4 years and has spent a year after high school volunteering her time to a ‘live-in’ community in downtown Winnipeg, Manitoba’s capital in Canada, serving and ministering to the “most poor and abandoned.” She now lives with her two cats, Miss Chew and Adonis.
Liz loves to express herself through dance, photography, and digital art. Her most recent adventure is to start a business with her digital art! Making art for others and of the saints has helped to pass the time during the lockdowns in Canada and to bring joy to the little moments of her day.