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Italy has another St. Gianna, Chiara Corbella

Azzurra Carnelos

Carnelos Family

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 04/22/24

A young mother chose to delay her cancer treatment so that her little Antonio could be born. Now she will be a light from heaven, says priest at funeral.

The story of St. Gianna Beretta is well known, and the saint is much loved around the world. Her daughter, little Gianna, was born healthy thanks to the sacrificial decision of St. Gianna when a tumor was found on her uterus.

See here for more details about Gianna’s life, as told by her son.

A similar story is that of Chiara Corbella. She lost her first two children shortly after their births. During her third pregnancy, she was diagnosed with cancer, but refused certain treatments in order to protect the life of her third child. Her son Francesco was born in perfect health in May 2011. Chiara began chemotherapy, but the disease persisted and was never cured. She died in 2012, at the age of 28, leaving behind her a testimony of love for others and self-sacrifice. 

Her beatification process was opened in 2018. See more about her here.

No greater love

Now, Italy is learning of another story very similar to that of Gianna and Chiara.

Azzurra Carnelos died this month, just short of her 34th birthday. She had already beaten breast cancer when she was diagnosed in 2019. She went on to marry in 2022 and, despite her fears that she wouldn’t be able to have children due to the cancer treatments, she found herself pregnant in February 2023.

Unfortunately, just a few months later, doctors found that the breast cancer had returned, and with a vengeance.

Carnelos decided to postpone chemo until her little Antonio was delivered. Today he is 8 months old.

“Don’t worry mom, everything will be fine,” she told her mother the day before passing away.

Bishop Corrado Pizziolo of Vittorio Veneto praised her heroic witness. “This is a true page of the Gospel. Azzurra gave her life for others, for her child. We gather in prayer for her, thanking her for this great gift: a lesson in life that still testifies to the great capacity for love that enlivens so many of our families.”

“There is no greater love than to give life!” said Father Massimo Rocchi in the homily delivered in the Oderzo cathedral at her funeral.

“Azzurra thanked everyone,” Father Massimo remembered, “and smiled until the end; now she says to all of you, like to [her sister] Andrea, ‘I love you so much!’ And to Antonio, called by the name of the saint to whom she had vowed her birth: ‘My love, how beautiful you are!’ Her courage and love leave an indelible imprint in you and also in the lives of all who knew her.”

The priest said that now she is an “example for all of us, a testimony that life is stronger than death and that, as Jesus told us, ‘there is no greater love than to give one’s life for another.'”

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