Chiara’s sainthood cause was opened last week, on the fifth anniversary of her death. The story of Chiara Corbella is both tragic and inspiring.
Chiara Corbella Petrillo lived a short life. She met her husband Enrico Petrillo at age 18, became the mother of three children, and died at the age 28.
But what happened within those 10 years has touched the hearts of thousands across the globe.
Chiara and Enrico married in Italy on September 21, 2008 after having met at Medjugorje in 2002. During the early years of their marriage, the young Italian couple faced many hardships together, including the death of two children, who both died only 30 minutes after birth.
Chiara became pregnant a third time with their son, Francesco. However, the joyful news of their pregnancy also came with a fatal diagnosis of cancer for Chiara. Her cancer was an unusual lesion of the tongue, which was later discovered to be a carcinoma.
Chiara rejected any treatment that could have saved her life during pregnancy because it would have risked the life of her unborn son. As the cancer progressed, it became difficult for Chiara to speak and see clearly, eventually making her final days on earth particularly excruciating.
Chiara’s suffering became a holy place because it was the place where she encountered God.
Although many couples face hardships, the Petrillos leaned on God’s grace which made their family particularly serene. They made peace with the reality that Chiara would never grow old with Enrico or watch Francesco grow up.
During Chiara’s last days, Enrico embraced God’s grace just as Chiara did, saying, “If she is going to be with Someone who loves her more than I, why should I be upset?”
Chiara died on June 13, 2012 at home in her wedding gown, surrounded by her family and friends. Although her earthly life was over, Chiara would continue to be a witness to joy.
Chiara has been called “a saint for our times.” Although her death was only five years ago, her legacy lives on and has inspired others around the world to be the same witness to joy.
Chiara did what she did, not trusting in her own strength, but trusting in the grace and the consolation of God… She never doubted God’s faithfulness to His promise of happiness for her story.
In the story of the Petrillo couple, many people recognize a providential consolation from heaven, the discovery that in any situation, there is no real reason to be sad. This is because Chiara shows that if you have God as your guide, misfortunes do not exist.