ruggero-chiara-teresaChiara Badano was born in Savona on October 29, 1971. She lived in a small Ligurian town called Sassello.

Her mother Maria Teresa and her father Ruggero remember:

We got married when we were 26 and our greatest desire was to have children, but we had to wait 11 years. Ruggero could not conceive a marriage without children, and when he was with friends who had children, he suffered a lot; but he continued to pray, even on the truck during his long work trips. Once again he asked for the grace in a shrine of our diocese and so it happened. With her birth, we immediately felt in our hearts that Chiara was not only our daughter, but first she was God’s child and, as such, we had to raise her respecting her freedom. With her arrival, we felt the grace of the sacrament of marriage more deeply: this daughter completed our union and increased the love between us.

Chiara was born in a simple family. She was her parents’ only child and from them she received a solid Christian education, based more on good example and love than on prohibitions or reprimands. Her personality was generous, outgoing, and gentle at the same time.

Scan_021Maria Teresa, her mother, tells a tiny anecdote:

Chiara had many toys. One day, while playing in her bedroom, I said: “You have so many toys…” And she replied: “Yes”. Then i suggested she give some of them to the poor children. To that she said: “No, they’re mine!” So I return to the kitchen, but soon I hear her little voice: “This one yes, this one no… this…” Intrigued, I peek into her room: Chiara was dividing her toys in two very distinct piles and then asked me for a shopping bag. I brought it to her and she began to fill it. “Chiara, but those are new!” I tell her. She said: “I can’t give old toys to poor children!” .

She was only four years old.

Chiara grows up to be beautiful and healthy, deeply loved by her parents, and in particular by her maternal grandparents, who seemed to be reborn thanks to this great joy.

When she was about nine and a half years old, she had an encounter which turned out to be crucial for her life: she met the Focolare Movement, founded by Chiara Lubich.

With her parents, in the spring of 1981 Chiara participated in the Family Fest, a a major international meeting held at the PalaEur in Rome: the discovery that “God loves us immensely”, will profoundly affect her relationships with her family, but also those with her friends and classmates. “We started our adventure, with the Gospel under our arms we will do great things,” Chiara and her friend Chicca wrote to Chiara Lubich, beginning their journey as gen (the youthful expression of the Focolare Movement).

Each point of the Focolare spirituality became an inspiration for Chiara: both to direct her first important choices to solve daily large and small problems discovering the infinite wonders of the Gospel brought to life. Chiara was fascinated by the fraternity among the members of the Movement, by its universality, and the effort of its members to make the evangelical teachings concrete .

Chiara-bambina-foto-grandeSome time later, she wrote:

I have rediscovered the Gospel.., I was not an authentic Christian because I did not live it fully. I won’t and cannot remain illiterate of such an extraordinary message. Now I want to make this wonderful book the only goal of my life.