I hesitated to pick up this book and read it. The cover photo is of a beautiful young woman with a surgical patch over her right eye and with the title Chiara Corbella Petrillo: A Witness to Joy, I assumed it was going to be an incredibly sad story. The authors, Simone Troisi and Cristiana Paccini, friends of Chiara, wrote this story and in the summary on the back cover did not hide the fact that Chiara did die from a tumor at a very young age but only after encountering life threatening abnormalities in her first two children who died within the hour of their births. If it is possible that a story can be beyond sad and beyond joyful at the same time, then this is it. Chiara said yes to everything God sent her way and did so with a joyful spirit. What a tremendous example to set!
It was tough for me to wrap my brain around the joyful response she exhibited, and it was not a mask she wore. There are plenty of testimonies to the fact that she and her husband, Enrico Petrillo, contained and demonstrated a supernatural joy and trust in God. Any one of the tragedies she experienced could have sent her into a dark spiral of depression and despair, but she was so rooted in her faith and had such a deep love for Jesus and His Blessed Mother that instead she witnessed this profound love to all that came in contact with her or her story.While reading this book, which once picked up I could not put down, my heart filled up with admiration for her and Enrico, and my mind filled with determination to not let my wee little problems ever get me down again. We all have our crosses to bear, but she and Enrico carried some incredibly heavy crosses and not only maintained their faith in our Lord, but their faith intensified and drew others to Jesus. This was a supernatural faith, but by being open to all that God sent her way she and Enrico experienced His love in a supernatural way, too. Quite frankly, my mind was blown and my faith was galvanized.
This story was written by two of their friends who witnessed everything that Chiara and Enrico went through. It was originally written in 2013 in Italian since Chiara and Enrico are Italian and lived in Italy, but was translated into English in 2015 by Charlotte J. Fasi. “At first sight, this is the dramatic story of a mother who died of a tumor, leaving her son and her husband alone. Perhaps it is a story similar to many others. But something here does not square. Everything in this story was lived in joy, and it became life for many others.” So, don’t hesitate to read this book like I did. Pick it up, savor the story and allow it to seep into your soul and change you. It will.