From the Editor’s Desk (Wednesday, 11-04-2015, Gaudium Press) The first biography of Chiara Corbella Petrillo has just been released by the Sophia Institute Press: “Chiara Corbella Petrillo, a witness to joy” by authors: Simone Troisi, Cristiana Paccini, preface by: Enrico Petrillo and translated by: Charlotte Fasi. This book tells the story of an amazing Italian woman, died in 2012 at age 28, maybe a future canonized saint.
Chiara Petrillo was seated in a wheel chair looking lovingly toward Jesus in the tabernacle. Her husband, Enrico, found the courage to ask her a question that he had been holding back.
Thinking of Jesus's phrase, "my yoke is sweet and my burden is light," he asked: "Is this yoke, this cross, really sweet, as Jesus said?"
A smile came across Chiara's face. She turned to her husband and said in a weak voice: "Yes, Enrico, it is very sweet."
At 28 years old, Chiara passed away, her body ravaged by cancer. The emotional, physical, and spiritual trials of this young Italian mother are not uncommon. It was her joyful and loving response to each that led one cardinal to call her "a saint for our times."
Chiara entrusted her first baby to the blessed Virgin, but felt as though this child was not hers to keep. Soon, it was revealed her daughter had life-threatening abnormalities. Despite universal pressure to abort, Chiara gave birth to a beautiful girl who died within the hour. A year later, the death of her second child came even more quickly.
Yet God was preparing their hearts for more-more sorrow and more grace.
While pregnant a third time, Chiara developed a malignant tumor. She refused to jeopardize the life of her unborn son by undergoing treatments during the pregnancy. Chiara waited until after Francesco was safely born, and then began the most intense treatments of radiation and chemotherapy, but it was soon clear that the cancer was terminal.
Almost immediately after giving birth to Francesco, Chiara's tumor became terminal and caused her to lose the use of her right eye. Her body was tested, and so was her soul as she suffered through terrible dark nights.
She said "yes" to everything God sent her way, becoming a true child of God. And as her days on earth came to an end, Enrico looked down on his wife and said, "If she is going to be with Someone who loves her more than I, why should I be upset?"
Each saint has a special charisma, a particular facet of God that is reflected through her.
Chiara's was to be a witness to joy in the face of great adversity, the kind which makes love overflow despite the sorrow from loss and death.
“You must abort this baby,” Chiara’s doctor insisted.
“The baby has no skull. She can’t survive outside your womb.
“She is alive. She is there,” Chiara replied.
Chiara refused to abort her child.
Baby Maria lived but 40 minutes after her birth. In that brief time, Chiara had her baptized, holding her closely until she breathed her last.
Then . . .a second pregnancy!
And the same demand: “You must abort this baby.
“He has no legs, and his lungs and kidneys will not develop. He cannot live outside the womb.”
Chiara refused to abort her son.
Baby Davide was born and his mother received him and embraced him tenderly.
“My son, my love,” she whispered to him.
He was baptized, and died 38 minutes after his birth.
Chiara would say he had, “an appointment in paradise.”
A third pregnancy! This time good news: you’re going to have a healthy baby!
And then bad news, almost immediately, while Francesco was still in the womb. “Chiara, you have cancer.”
Once again, the doctors proposed treatment that would risk the life of Chiara’s unborn child.
“I have no intention of putting the life of Francesco at risk,” Chiara responded, despite knowing it might cost her her life.
Although baby Francesco was born healthy, his mother, Chiara Corbella Petrillo, just 28 years old, soon died from her cancer.
Smiling in the face of death’s horror that had stalked her and her three babies since the very first days of her marriage, happy she had chosen her young son’s life over her own, and joyful she would soon be with her beloved Jesus.
What strength! What courage! What faith!
Now Chiara’s biography – just published by Sophia Institute Press – shares with you the sources of Chiara’s strength, so that when life’s troubles and sorrows threaten to overwhelm you, you will be able to stand firm like Chiara – and joyful – even in the face of death.
You see, like you, Chiara was not born a saint, nor was she particularly holy as a young adult. Her stormy engagement with Enrico was punctuated with frequent quarrels, breakups, and reconciliations.
She had to learn – and her example can teach you – many essential things about living a good life in our turbulent modern world, including:
How abandonment of self leads to recovery of the person you are actually called to be
How to defeat the anger and despair that suffering too often breeds, and use it as a means to bring you closer to those you love
How to treasure – even more than you do already – life in the womb as well as the gift of those persons God has chosen to bring into your life
Why you need never lose faith in God’s goodness, even in the face of horrors as great as those faced by Enrico and Chiara.
Chiara Corbella Petrillo died in June 2012.
This biography of Chiara, written by two friends who walked with her every step of her way of the Cross, even unto death, shows how we can transform our own crosses, no matter how painful they may be, into occasions of holiness and even joy. That’s a skill no Christian can afford to live – or die – without.
The book can be purchased at http://shop.sophiainstitute.com/Chiara-Corbella-Petrillo-P846.aspx
Source: Sophia Institute Press