Here is a brief summary of the extraordinary life of the Servant of God Renata Borlone as it was recounted by Natalia Dallapiccola, one of the first young women to follow Chiara Lubich on the new path of the focolare.
“Renata would usually begin to tell her life story with the following words: “We’ll only be able to recount our story well in Paradise, where we’ll be able to gather completely that golden thread that we hope will lead us to where we are meant to arrive.”
She was born in Aurelia, Civitavecchia, Italy on 30 May 1930. Later she and her family moved to Rome. Her parents were not church-goers but they were honest people, sincere and rich in human values. “I will never be able to thank God enough for having allowed me to experience the life of a true family, especially for the love there was between my parents”.
When the Second World War began, Renata was ten years old. She would go through many painful experiences that would mark her memory for the rest of her life. “I realized that death could arrive at any moment and I noticed in a flash the vanity of games, money, and a future. I decided to become better”.
She grew in age and God began to be an urgent problem. She began to attend Church. When she was fourteen years old she felt a kind of “first calling,” an interior urge to offer her life so that her parents might find the faith. Thirsty for truth, she threw herself headlong into her studies in order to delve deeply into her search for God. She enrolled in the School of Chemistry with the hope of discovering God in the secrets of the universe: “I loved mathematics because of its logic. I hoped to acquire a mind that would in some way be able to embrace the universal. (. . .) I didn’t know yet that only in the Creator – Love would I be able to discover creation with its creatures, and love them”.
On 8 May 1949, a day which she called “extraordinary,”she attended a meeting in which Graziella De Luca, one of the first focolarine spoke about God-Love, and the new Gospel life which had begun in Trent a few years before. “I don’t remember what she said,” she would later recount, “but when I left that place I knew I had found what I was looking for. I had an intuition that God is Love. (. . .) I lost the previous image I had of Him as a Judge who only punishes the bad and rewards the good. And I felt a God who was near”.
A short time later she met Chiara Lubich and immediately felt a strong bond with her, something alive, as between a mother and daughter. She also felt clearly confirmed in her desire to give herself completely to God. She said her perpetual “yes’ to God. She had just turned twenty.
In 1967 she moved to the School of Formation in Loppiano where she remained for the last twenty-three years of her life being co-responsible for the Mariaplolis town. This is where the full potential of her generosity exploded. More than a thousand young people have absorbed from her that patience, that interior strength that made them grow spiritually. Her entire life is a stupendous intertwining of love and suffering, of effort to die to herself in order to allow Jesus to live in her. And it was Jesus whom every found when they were in her presence.
Because of her love without measure, no one ever passed her way in vain. This has been attested to by a great number of people from every background, social condition, age and culture. They tell of how, in her presence they felt beloved by God, loved and understood like an only child.
This “passion” for people was rooted in an unconditional love toward Jesus who from the Cross cries out the abandonment of the Father, and in keeping her gazed fixed on Mary as her only model. This was the source of her continual ascent, which she fulfilled according to the Gospel sentence: “Mary (. . .) kept all these things, meditating them in her heart” (Lk 2:19).
At the age of 59, she was informed that she had a terminal illness. The phrase from the Gospel, “Whoever believes in me will not die”(Jn 11:26) was of great inspiration to her transforming the last leg of her earthly journey into an extraordinary hymn of Life. Even amid much suffering, Renata continued to say right up until her final moments: “I’m happy. I want to show that death is Life”. She passed away peacefully on 27 February 1990.
Her life totally given to God and to her brothers and sisters in the spirituality of unity, continues to leave behind a trail of glowing light».
On 27 February 2011 the diocesan phase of beatification and canonization of Renata Borlone concluded and the Roman phase began at the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints.
The complete biography of Renata Borlone can be found in the book “Un silenzio che si fa vita” by G. Marchesi and A. Zirondoli (Citta Nuova Editrice)
In 2011 an unpublished biography was released entitled “La gioia di essere tutta di Dio” (Citta Nuova Editrice)