20 December 2009

A saint-in-the-making who failed in mathematics

For two or three years I've been intending to write an article for Misyon, which I edit on behalf of the Columbans in the Philippines, about a young Italian woman who died just short of her 19th birthday in 1990. Her name was Chiara 'Luce' Badano. Recently I asked someone else to use the material I had gathered to write the article. One of the things that had attracted me was that Chiara failed mathematics in high school. Though I had no difficulty with mathematics until my last two years in school I never liked the subject and sympathise with those who finds it difficult. The terms 'trigonometry' and 'applied mathematics' are simply words to me now. I have a vague recollection of trigonometry being a cross between algebra and geometry. One of the happiest moments in my life was when I finished my exams in mathematics and science in my Leaving Certificate in Ireland in 1961. I have never opened a book in either subject since.

I have a young friend in first year high school here in Bacolod who is struggling with mathematics (in Ireland we shorten that to 'maths' but here in the Philippines it's 'math') and when we meet I usually ask her 'How is "Mattie"?' (At the moment 'Mattie' is not too well!)

I really will have to make sure the article is written very soon for Misyon because yesterday Pope Benedict gave the 'green light' for Chiara to be beatified. The Pope also declared both Pope Pius XII and Pope John Paul II as 'Venerable', meaning that they may be venerated. The next step, if a miracle through their intercession is officially declared by the Church, then they may be beatified.

Chiara was a member of Focolare, whose foundress, Chiara Lubich, who died earlier this year, gave her the name 'Luce', the Italian for 'light'. 'Chiara' is the Italian form of 'Claire'.

Chiara was her parents' only child and she arrived more than 11 years after they were married. Coincidentally, the Vatican announcement was made yesterday when the readings at Mass dealt with that very same theme - childless parents who longed for a son or daughter. God heard the prayers of Manoah and his wife and gifted them with a son named Samson. God equally heard the prayers of St Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah. The son of their old age was St John the Baptist.

Chiara's mother is quoted as saying after her birth, 'Even though we were so immensely happy, we understood straightaway that this child wasn’t ours alone. She belonged to God first of all.'

Though the commentary in the video above is in Italian you can see many photos of Chiara.

You can read more about Chiara here.

Chiara as an infant with her parents, Ruggero, a truck-driver, and Maria Teresa Caviglia

This video features a song in Chiara's honour, also in Italian, with the words on the screen.


Googolplex Ideas! said...

Its good to know that but math is not really that tough and being a math student I can definitely say that!

Fr Seán Coyle said...

Than you. some of my best friends are good at math!!!

A Happy Christmas to you and to all who are close to you.