Beyond her remarkable spiritual sensitivity, Chiara was a girl like any other: cheerful, lively, outgoing and reserved all at the same time. A true sports lover: she skated, and played tennis; she loved the mountains, but at the beach she would ‘explode’.
She had many friends in Sassello, with whom she often spent time at ‘Bar Gina’. Many 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 an adolescent.
To her mother, who asked her if she ever speaks of God to them, Chiara firmly responds: “I must not talk about Jesus, I give them Jesus.” “And how do you do that?” Asks Maria Teresa, and Chiara: “First of all, by listening, then with the way I dress, but especially with my way of loving”.
In this path of human and spiritual maturity, Chiara is joined by other young people: in particular by those of the New Generation of the Focolare Movement (nicknamed ‘Gen’ by the founder). There are several opportunities to meet with them in an atmosphere of profound unity, in freedom and absolute respect in communicating their own life experiences, progress and difficulties experienced in bringing the Gospel love.
Maria Teresa says: “One day, returning from one of these meetings, Chiara came home without her watch. I asked her: “Have you lost your watch? No – she says – I put it in the basket for the communion of goods to be allocated to the poor”. I was amazed and I told her that we could not buy another one and calmly, she replied: “It doesn’t matter”, and didn’t think about it again. After a short time, her paternal grandfather, who wanted to give her a present, asked if she had a watch. Without giving any further explanation, she said no. Then he gave her the money, saying: “With this go and buy yourself a watch.” When he left, Chiara and I looked at each other and she said to me: “Mom, my watch has come back”. She was about 11 years old.
Chiara is attentive and friendly with everyone from her sick classmate to the grandparents who need assistance; from those marginalized to the homeless she meets on the way home from school.
At Christmas time, during a visit with her class at the Sassello retirement home, Chiara is impressed by a tiny old lady with big eyes and a beautiful smile: grandma Speranza .
“She often went to keep her company and help in practical things – her mother still remembers – She would brush her hair, wash her face, adjust her bed… During these visits, grandma Speranza would tell her fairytales, including the one of the chimney sweep she liked so much. I wanted to meet her and the first thing she told me was: “You have a daughter who is not of this world ….” Even my own mother, watching Chiara, often repeated it to me…”.
distinguished between rich and poor, those she liked and those she didn’t, those who believed and those who didn’t. She became familiar with gratification as well as failures, like many others. One thing that caused her major suffering was her transfer from her beloved Sassello to Savona, to attend the classic studies high school.
In ninth grade, her first great pain: a failure considered undeserved by many because it resulted from misunderstandings with a teacher.
Then the dreams, the struggles of adolescence, and the disappointment for a teenage love, that faded before it even blossomed. Always projected towards those who were beside her or even passed her by, Chiara always tried to turn pain into love. She didn’t always succeed, so then she would say: “I can always start over”.