On 29th October 2022, the Feast Day of Blessed Chiara “Luce” Badano, her hometown, Sassello, opened its doors and gathered to remember this young woman whose testimony continues to inspire.

 On 29th October 2022, Blessed Chiara Badano would have celebrated her 51st birthday. A young girl in love with God, who at the age of 17, discovered that she had a bone tumour yet, even in illness, she never stopped believing in God’s love. Many young people, children and adults came to her hometown, Sassello, in the province of Savona (Italy) which is surrounded by woods and beautiful hills, to remember her on her birthday which coincides with her Liturgical Feast Day. Thirty-two years after her death, her witness continues to spread and the fruits of a life lived in light inspire many to go beyond obstacles, to feel caressed by God’s Love even in difficulties and pain and to give their lives for those in most need.

The day began at midday at the chapel of the Badano family in the Cemetery, where many people from various countries gathered around Chiara’s tomb for the “Time-Out”, a minute of reflection to ask for peace all over the world. It was a simple but profound moment of meditation and prayer, in which Maria Teresa, Chiara’s mother, Daniele Buschiazzo, the Mayor of Sassello, Msgr. Luigi Testore, the Bishop of the Diocese of Acqui and the members of the Chiara Badano Foundation took part. The Mayor said, “29th October is generally a moment that enriches the whole community. And the fact that it is especially young people who recognize Chiara as an important point of reference, makes us even more proud. Every year this is a stimulating event for our Municipality and our community, addressing as it does, important issues. This year, the topic is peace”. 

In the afternoon, at the Parish of the Most Holy Trinity, in the centre of Sassello, many participated in the Mass, celebrated by Mgr. Testore, assisted by Fr. Enrico Ravera, the Parish Priest of Sassello. The Bishop said “Chiara shows us precisely what it means to welcome the Love of God and constantly discover this Love. So she was able to live her short life above all with this perspective, leaving us a very strong imprint that each of us can take back: discovering the Love of God and letting ourselves be guided by this Love to build our own lives”.

5th “Art Award”
Immediately after Mass, the Chiara Badano Foundation announced the names of the winners of the 2022 “Art  Award”, which gives young people the opportunity to illustrate with their own talents how much the story of Chiara Badano, her ideal and her lifestyle has fascinated, attracted and inspired them.
This year’s winner in the “Children’s” category (10-16 years) was Manuel Arduini di Cattolica (Italy), with a drawing inspired by Chiara, entitled “The path to light”. Manuel explained, “What inspired me in this design was Chiara’s faith in the Church and in God”. In the “Youth” category (17-35 years), the winners were Guilaine, Darlene, Ashura, Evasta and Erica from Burundi. These 5 girls from the Chiara Luce Centre of the Focolare Movement in Bujumbura, wrote the words for a song (based on traditional music) and prepared a choreography that expresses the joy of getting to know about the life of Chiara “Luce” and how her example helps them in their lives.
The Jury also made a special mention of a song by a group from Bujumbura which was entered in the Children’s category. Chiara Cuneo, Counsellor at the International Centre of the Focolare Movement received the award and the certificate and also brought the greetings of President Margaret Karram and Co-President Jesus Morán.

Before concluding the award ceremony, Pasquale Capasso and Martina Bolino from Arzano (Italy), winners of the youth category for the year 2020, performed their winning song, “Here for Eternity” as in 2020,  due to the pandemic they could not participate in person.

Pasquale Capasso explained, “Having reached the last page of the book on Chiara, “From the rooftops down” written by Franz Coriasco, I thought that this is a story which should continue. I know lots of young people, like me, like us, trying to spend their lives serving others with their talents. And so, the experience of this song must surely be a common experience, with others and friends… and this song came out, which is a stimulus to carry on the witness that Chiara left us, because it is a commitment that we all feel we have to take on. Martina Bolino added, “It started a bit like a game… we joined in this game and the result was a kind of crazy joy that is contagious, so we’d like to thank those who invited us to take part”.

“Chiara Luce Badano Solidarity” Award
At the end of the award ceremony for the winners of the 2022 “Art Awards”, there was also the presentation and launch of the new “Solidarity Award”: an annual initiative to promote solidarity projects in all parts of the world, which will be linked to the artistic award. Cristina Cuneo, a member of the Chiara Badano Foundation, said, “From an early age, Chiara showed a true passion for the most in need, the weakest, the most marginalized in society, the elderly and in particular children.  For this reason, inspired and encouraged by Ruggero Badano (Chiara’s father) and Delfina Giribaldi, the Foundation, has decided to establish the ‘Chiara Luce Badano Solidarity Award’, in accordance with its statutory mandate to support and encourage projects for the promotion of positive actions aimed at the weaker sections of the population”. The deadline for submitting projects is 20th January, 2023. The regulations of the competition are on Chiara’s website.
For more information on Blessed Chiara “Luce” Badano: www.chiarabadano.org

Anita Martinez

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