Chiara, a young mother from Rome suffering from terminal cancer, deeply touched Pope Benedict with her story of opting to protect her third child by forgoing treatment.
The 28-year-old greeted the Pope at the conclusion of this week’s Wednesday General Audience on May 2, together with her 33-year-old husband Enrico.
The couple lost their two previous children – Maria, who suffered from anencephaly and lived only 30 minutes outside the womb, and David, who died hours after birth as he was born without legs or healthy internal organs.
In the case of their two deceased children, the couple refused abortion despite learning of their severe illnesses through pre-natal screening.
According to the Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano, the couple greeted Benedict XVI and “were all smiles as they calmly told him the story of their young Christian family, their complete trust in providence and that they take the Gospel seriously, as they saw it lived out by John Paul II.”
“Visibly moved, the Pope affectionately touched them,” the paper reported.
Chiara was diagnosed with cancer while pregnant with their third child Francesco. She decided to forgo treatment to protect him from the dangerous side-effects of chemotherapy and instead opted to begin treatment after giving birth.
“It was too late,” L'Osservatore Romano said. The cancer “exploded with such violence that there is little hope.”
“When I am no longer here, I will look after Maria and David,” Chiara has told her husband. “You remain here and care for Francesco.”
Both say they have looked to John Paul II for inspiration in dealing with the cancer.
“He was their Pope during childhood and adolescence,” the Vatican daily wrote. “Following his example, they explained, they consecrate themselves daily to Maria, with the spirituality of Totus Tuus, and they pray the Rosary each Thursday with other families.”