She held Jesus in her palm: Meet Blessed Benedetta

| Liz Kelly | September 25, 2019 | 0 Comments
Blessed Benedetta Bianchi Porro

Blessed Benedetta Bianchi Porro

On Sept. 14, an extraordinary young Italian woman was beatified: Blessed Benedetta Bianchi Porro. Truly a saint for our time, especially for young people who suffer from chronic or progressively debilitating illnesses and all those who care for them, specifically doctors, you will not regret getting to know her.

Benedetta was born in Forli, Italy, on Aug. 8, 1936. When she was very young she contracted polio, which left her crippled. An intelligent and happy child, she began keeping a diary at the age of 5. At age 7 she wrote, “The universe is enchanting! It is great to be alive.” As a teenager, she began to go deaf, but despite this, she entered medical school where she excelled, taking oral exams by reading the lips of her professors. She had an ardent desire to become a doctor, but she struggled with grave illness, losing her hearing and other senses over years of time. After five years of medical training, just one year short of completing her degree, she was forced to end her studies after diagnosing herself with Von Recklinghausen’s disease, a diagnosis her professors later confirmed. This cruel disease attacks the nerve centers of the body, forming tumors on them, and eventually causing deafness, blindness and paralysis.

As Benedetta’s world shrank, she demonstrated extraordinary courage and holiness and was visited by many who sought her counsel and intercession. She was able to communicate when her family would sign the Italian alphabet into her left palm, one of the areas of her body that remained functional. Instead of a medical doctor, she became a kind of doctor to the soul to all who visited. In this way, she became no less a healer than she had ever hoped to be. On a trip to Lourdes, she reported an interior healing, saying, “I am aware more than ever of the richness of my condition and I don’t desire anything but to continue in it.”

In a letter to a young man who suffered similarly, she wrote:

“Because I’m deaf and blind, things have become complicated for me. …Nevertheless, in my Calvary, I do not lack hope. I know that at the end of the road, Jesus is waiting for me. First in my armchair, and now in my bed where I now stay, I have found a wisdom greater than that of men — I have discovered that God exists, that He is love, faithfulness, joy, certitude, to the end of the ages. … My days are not easy. They are hard. But sweet because Jesus is with me, with my sufferings, and He gives me His sweetness in my loneliness and light in the darkness. He smiles at me and accepts my collaboration.”

Benedetta passed away Jan. 23, 1964. She was venerated Dec. 23, 1993, by Pope John Paul II, and beatified Sept. 14 by Pope Francis.

Blessed Benedetta, your world became as small as a Communion wafer. You were immobilized, deaf and blind and yet you were a powerful witness to the love of God and the Blessed Mother. Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is hidden and small, too, silent, immobilized, and even weak — and still all powerful. Please pray for me, Benedetta, that I will collaborate, as you did, with Jesus in whatever way he wishes to use me. May I be granted the grace to allow the almighty Father to speak through my littleness and loneliness, too. Amen.

Kelly is the author of six books, including “Jesus Approaches” and the “Jesus Approaches Take-Home Retreat.” To learn more about Blessed Benedetta, visit lizk.org/speaking-events.

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Category: Your Heart His Home