1920 (Trent, Italy) – 2008 (Rocca di Papa, Italy)
Silvia was born in the north of Italy when war was raging across Europe. Her parents had a clear idea of what was good and felt very strongly for the poor. This wasn’t popular at the time, so Silvia’s dad lost his job and they lived in poverty.
Already as a little girl Silvia had a great love for Jesus in everyone she met and she tried to put this into practice too! One time she noticed that they had run out of milk at home, but there was a big storm outside so no one was keen to get some more. But Silvia decided to go herself! It might seem like a small thing but you should try it! Whenever you notice something at home – your Mum or Dad needing some help, or your little brother or sister wanting to play – try to be the first to help and you’ll see how happy it will make you and everyone else!
Silvia trusted Jesus very much, so one day when she heard that a poor man needed shoes, she asked Jesus for a pair for him, size 42. On that same day she met someone who said: “You may not have much use for these … but I have a pair of men’s shoes … size 42.” Pretty amazing, don’t you think? Silvia’s life was full of little miracles. That’s right, these are miracles! And guess what? If you trust Jesus too, you’ll see them happening to you too! Have you ever shared a snack with a school mate and suddenly someone else offered to share theirs with you? Or have you ever played with your little sister when she wanted your attention and later you managed to do your homework much faster than usual? Those are all little miracles too!
Silvia realized that she wanted to give her life to God completely and visited a priest to ask for his advice. He understood that Silvia’s wish came from God. To Silvia this was a new beginning so she chose a new name, Chiara, meaning ‘clear’ or ‘light’.
Her friends soon noticed the way she loved everyone and trusted God in everything, and soon some of them joined her and decided to put every word of the Gospel into practice. Living the Gospel together was very important to Chiara because Jesus said “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them!” Chiara knew that if they lived the Gospel together, even if it just meant washing the dishes, Jesus was right there with them. And he would teach them and guide them!
One time Chiara and her friends were visiting a girl who had a terrible skin disease and a priest was also there. They felt very strongly that Jesus is in those who suffer in a special way and that suffering and love are related. So they asked the priest when it was that Jesus suffered most. He told them: “I think the greatest suffering for Jesus was when he didn’t even feel his father close to him on the cross, when he said ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?'” When Chiara and her friends heard this, they realized that it was true and decided to dedicate their life to loving Jesus Forsaken. They immediately started discovering him in many people – the poor, the sick, the sad, the lonely… Chiara also realized that loving them is the key to bringing everyone together, to bringing about a united world. Do you remember from Mass what Jesus asked of his Father just before going up to heaven? He said: “May they all be one!” With Foco, about whom you can read in this book, Chiara spent the rest of her life sharing Jesus with the world.
Can you believe that Chiara was the first woman to talk to Muslim friends in a mosque in New York? Or that she spoke to the Houses of Parliament in the UK and the United Nations about how to love each other as brothers and sisters? Or that she had great friendships with an amazing variety of people, from Hindus in India, an African king – the Fon of Fontem, Buddhists in Thailand and Japan, Jewish people as well as all the Popes, with a very special friendship with Saint John Paul II. For Chiara, everyone was a brother or sister and she saw Jesus in all. This was so powerful that many people wanted to work with Chiara for a united world! Her ‘Ideal’ of a united world also inspired people working in economics, politics, theology, science and many other fields. Shortly before she went to heaven, she even founded a university!
Remember how Chiara trusted Jesus fully and in everything, from small things like asking for shoes size 42, all the way to her dream of everyone being brothers and sisters like in a family? Will you try to do the same?
“If one loves, he gives.
If the other loves, she gives.
If we love each other,
everything belongs to everyone.”