Chiara Badano was only 18 years old when she died in 1990. She was born in northern Italy. Her parents had always wanted children, but had been unable to conceive until Chiara, eleven years into their marriage. Chiara’s arrival brought them great joy. Her parents had a strong Catholic faith, and shared this with their daughter.
When Chiara was nine, a friend named Chicca invited her to take part in a Catholic youth program called GEN (New Generation). Chiara was an enthusiastic participant, and this new group helped her deepen her prayer life while it also gave her a new set of friends. Besides all her studies and sports, Chiara also tried to go to Mass every day.
Chiara was always a happy, optimistic girl. She loved to sing, dance, play tennis, and ice skate. She also loved excursions to the mountains and trips to the beach. Both mountains and beaches were in easy driving distance of her home.
One day, at age 17, while playing tennis, she felt an acute pain in her back and dropped the tennis racket. She went home, and when her mother saw how pale she was, she took her to the doctor. The doctors soon discovered Chiara had bone cancer. Chiara struggled to accept this news, but after a brief time of prayer she told her mother that she had said “yes” to whatever Jesus wanted.
Chiara faced repeated hospitalizations and increasing pain, yet everyone who dealt with her was amazed at her joy and serenity. Even some doctors who did not believe in God were drawn closer to God by Chiara’s example. She often repeated, “For you, Jesus. If you wish it, so do I.”
Her friend Chicca stayed close to her all this time. She was amazed as she witnessed the deepening of Chiara’s love for Christ during all the pain and unsuccessful treatments. Knowing that she was going to die, Chiara prepared her own funeral: the songs of the Mass, and the hairdo. Everything for her was a celebration.
Chicca recalled, “She told me she wanted to be buried in a white dress, as a bride that goes to meet Jesus.”
Chiara made one last request to her mother: “When you dress me, you must repeat three times: Now Chiara is seeing Jesus.” Chiara also asked that the cornea of her eyes be donated to some other young person who needed them.
She died on October 7, 1990. Her last words to her mother were: “Be happy, because I’m happy.” She was beatified this month, after a miracle due to her intercession was recognized by the Vatican.