“The greatest possible joy for a priest is to realize that he was the confessor of a saint.” This is the experience that Fr. Vito D’Amato lived alongside of Chiara Corbella Petrillo, from the time of when she was dating her future husband, Enrico, up until the final days of her life. It was from this second part of her life that he began his story, when he came to speak to us at the House of formation. “‘We have the lanterns lit. We are waiting for the Bridegroom’, was the last message Chiara sent to me. What could I say to a person who was a saint, when I was not?”
Some time ago, there was the announcement of the opening of the cause of beatification of Chiara Corbella, a young woman who died of cancer after having given birth to her third child, Francesco. The first two, Maria Grazia Letizia and Davide Giovanni, had lived just a few minutes after their birth, before returning to heaven. The last, however, was healthy, but in order to give birth to him, Chiara had to fight her sickness as well as the doctors that were advising her to have an abortion.
“There is a painting of Antonello da Messina that has always struck me,” the Franciscan told us, “because the painter chose to represent the Annunciation putting himself in the point of view of the angel. In this way, together with him, we look at Mary.” Using this image, he described his experience lived next to Chiara, and we can say that, listening to him, something similar happened to us. Our guest presented us the path of this girl from his point of view, that of a priest called by God to accompany persons through all the phases of their existence, from birth to death. Above all, “our role is that of saying that matrimony is for all of one’s life,” Fr. Vito continued. The task is to make the exigent proposal of a life lived according to God, which is what man is made for, and into which only God, using His priestly ministers, can introduce us. A proposal that measures up to the heights of the heart’s desire: “Chiara always wanted this from me, nothing less.” “I was born for their vocation,” he said, thinking back to the moment in which he prepared them for their marriage, which was the true center of their walk of faith. Fr. Vito knows that he was chosen for this, to the point that, when Chiara got very sick, he addressed God, offering his own life in exchange. But then, “the Lord made me realize that I had already given my life, with baptism, and especially with my priestly ordination.”
The lives of saints fascinate us because they are lives given for the Kingdom of God. And it is this fascination that attracts us towards our vocation.
In the photo, Fr. Vito D’Amato with Chiara Corbella.