Chiara Petrillo: The Story of a Beautiful Soul

Dear Friends, peace and abundant blessings!! It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. Seminary has kept me busy with five classes, papers, midterms, and my first attempts at studying Latin. Going forward with faith. Please always keep me and my fellow seminarians in prayer.

I recently came across a new book published by Sophia Institute Press, Chiara CorbellaChiara Pertillo: Witness to Joy. I was very excited and moved to see Chiara’s image on the cover and to see that her story has been made into a book. It was a few years ago, before entering religious life, that I took a pilgrimage to Medjugorje in hopes of discerning my future. On that pilgrimage, during the Youth Festival, a film was shown of Chiara’s story. My mother was with me, tearing up, as many were: witnessing the account of this beautiful, 28-year-old woman in love with God, who received cancer while pregnant with her child. Doctors proposed cancer treatment that would risk the life of the baby. Chiara had no interest in that, refusing the treatment as an act of sacrificial love for her child.

She gave birth to a healthy boy, Francesco, his parents naming him after St. Francis of Assisi. Shortly thereafter, Chiara died at the age of 28 from the cancer that pervaded her body, leaving her husband and son. She dealt with the disease, and the conflict that her life was experiencing, with great surrender to God, facing death with a heroic and serene optimism that only a deep relationship with the Almighty can foster. Here is a short but powerful excerpt from the book’s Web site (from Sophia Institute Press):

“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’.”