Holy Person of the Month: Bl. Eugenia Picco

Born: 8 November 1867, Crescenzaga, Milan, Italy

Died: 7 September 1921, Parma, Italy

Feast Day: September 7th

Born Anna Eugenia, she was raised predominantly by her grandparents while her Italian musician parents Giuseppe Picco, blind from a childhood accident, and Adelaide del Corno toured the world. After touring the United States, Eugenia’s mother returned home without her father. She believed her father died while on tour, but the actual circumstances are unknown. Adelaide Picco, a lapsed Christian, resumed raising her daughter in a morally corrupt and irreligious environment where her mother lived with a new partner, Basilio Recalcati, whom she had three other children with. Eugenia enjoyed aspects of her new lifestyle including theater and Milanese society.

However, Bl. Eugenia described living with her mother as, “Dangers and occasions at home and outside.” Almost daily she fled her difficult and troubled environment seeking refuge in the nearby Basilica of St. Ambrose where she prayed. One silent evening in May 1886, Eugenia felt a call to sanctity. At 20 years old, she devoted her life to seeking Jesus and becoming holy. She also discerned a call to the religious life.

The Milanese Ursulines wrote & requested that the Congregation of the Little Daughters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary receive Eugenia. On August 31, 1887, she fled her home and was immediately accepted by the founder of the congregation, the Venerable Agostino Chieppi. August 26, 1888 commenced her novitiate in Parma, Italy. On June 10, 1891 she made her first profession before Venerable Chieppi. After Bl. Eugenia made her solemn profession on June 1, 1894, she assumed various important roles within her congregation: novice mistress, archivist, general secretary and member of the council.

As Superior General, from 1911 until her death, Bl. Eugenia skillfully and joyfully performed the tasks of her office with serene and tranquil perfection even amidst the demands and difficulties of World War I. She reminded her sisters to remain faithful: “Suffer, be silent, love”. She embraced motherhood, especially the poorest and most destitute of WWI society, with courageous and tireless charity.

Bl. Eugenia is known for her passionate and unyielding devotion to the Eucharist. The Blessed Sacrament was the vital fulcrum and the catalyst for all her apostolic work, interior life, and daily actions. The Eucharist was her great love, comfort, joy, and source of piety. This constant, burning love for Christ and the salvation of souls fueled her being despite the fatigue and demands of daily life.

Towards the end of the her life, her health declined. Bl. Eugenia developed a degenerative bone condition which led to the amputation of lower portion of her right leg in 1919. She offered and united her suffering with God. She remained a smiling, suffering servant all the days of her life.

She died of tuberculosis on September 7, 1921 in Parma, Italy.

St. John Paul II proclaimed her Venerable Eugenia Picco on February 18, 1989. In 1992, the healing of Camillo Talubingi Kingombe in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was attributed to her intercession. After the confirmation of the first miracle attributed to Bl. Eugenia, St John Paul II beatified her October 7, 2001.

Bl. Eugenia Picco, pray for us!

  • Butler’s Lives of the Saints (219)
Photo Credit: Catholic.com

Holy Person of the Month: Blessed Chiara Luce Badano, Patron of Chronically Catholic Blog

Photo Credit: cassiepeasedesign.com
Photo Credit: cassiepeasedesign.com

After 11 years of hoping and praying for a child, Ruggero and Maria Theresa Badano welcomed their daughter, Chiara Lucu, on October 29th, 1971. Born in the small Italian village of Sassello, she was considered a beautiful and simple child; Chiara exhibited an acute awareness and compassion for the poor and suffering, especially drug addicts and persons with mental illness. The simple, beautiful child grew into a vivacious and active youth filled with zest and love for life. She enjoyed swimming, outdoor actives, and socializing with friends. In 1980, Chiara became involved in the Focalare Movement and an active member in her local youth group. Chiara, though virtuous and unique, enjoyed being a modern teenager.

In 1988, while playing tennis, Chiara experienced excruciating pain in her shoulder, and soon received the diagnosed of osteogenic sarcoma- bone cancer. During her final two years, Chaira fulfilled her name’s mean “Clear Light” becoming a illuminating presence of joy in the midst of immense suffering. After an excruciating night, she stated, “I suffered a lot, but my soul was singing.” Even in her weakened state, Chiara’s presence touched many lives. One of her doctors remarked, “Through her smile, and through her eyes full of light, she showed us that death doesn’t exist; only life exists.” Intrigued by stories of this heroic teenager, Cardinal Saldarini visited her in the hospital and asked, “The light in your eyes is splendid. Where does it come from?” Chiara replied: “I try to love Jesus as much as I can.”

Chiara in the Hospital
Chiara in the Hospital

Even after she received her terminal diagnosis and during treatment, Chiara keenly understood the value of redemptive suffering. She often repeated the phrase, “If this is what you want, Jesus, so do I.” As Chiara’s beautiful locks fell out due to chemotherapy, she prayed as each strand fell, “For you, Jesus.”  She even refused pain management wanting to remain lucid. She explained, “I want to share as much as possible in His suffering on the cross.” Chiara befriended another adolescent struggling with depression and drug-dependency. Despite how painful walking was because of a large growth on her spine, Chiara walked with this girl; “I’ll have time to rest later.”

As her impending death approached, Chiara encouraged her mother, “When you’re getting me ready, Mum, you have to keep saying to yourself, ‘Chiara Luce is now seeing Jesus.’” With her friends and family present, Chiara Luce died October 7, 1990. Her last words were: “Goodbye. Be happy because I’m happy.” Her family buried her in a wedding dress as requested.

bl. Chiara Luce Badano When Chiara died, I was one year old. Her first confirmed miracle involved a young Italian boy dying from meningitis induced organ failure. His parent’s asked for Chiara’s intercession. A panel of doctors ruled that there was no medical explanation for the boy’s full recovery. On September 25, 2010, Pope Emeritus Benedict VXI beatified Chiara Luce Badano- the first blessed from Generation X.

In the words of Chiara: “Previously I felt … the most I could do was to let go. Instead, now I feel enfolded in a marvelous plan of God, which is slowly being unveiled to me.”

Bl. Chiara Luce Badano, pray for us!

Why did I choose Bl. Chiara for my blog patron? I stumbled into her story and witness during a period of intense medical fragility and complexity in my life. I became dehabilitated. I was lost. More doors and windows were shut than opened. Then the Holy Spirit guided me to this young woman who died around the time I was born. I felt an instant connection. I felt hope. When I decided to chose a patroness for my blog, I chose her. I believe in the Communion of Saints. She helped me ad continues to intercede for me. And I want to share her heroic virtue and story with the world- even just a small corner.