1964Benedetta was born the second of six children in Italy. At only three months old, she contracted polio, and suffered with repeated bronchitis. Benedetta grew up wearing a leg brace and orthopedics to prevent her spine from deforming. When she was thirteen, she began to lose her hearing. Still, Benedetta persevered, and traveled to Milan where she first studied physics, but later discerned that she was called to study medicine. Benedetta wanted to become a doctor so she could help those who needed medical care most. She studied diligently despite her hearing loss. It was later discovered that Benedetta had a condition called neurofibromatosis, or Von Recklinghausen disease. The disease would eventually force her to leave medical school and leave her blind and deaf.
Benedetta was confined to her home with her illness. She began to write letters to others, in which she shared her faith and her love for God. Multiple operations left her paralyzed and she slowly lost her five senses. In 1962,Benedetta went on a pilgrimage to Lourdes, praying for a miracle. While she was there, she met a young woman, sobbing beside her. Benedetta held her hand and encouraged her to pray, asking for the Blessed Virgin’s intercession. The young woman was healed. When Benedetta returned home, people started traveling to see her, as her reputation for being a kind and holy woman grew. Many came wanting to comfort Benedetta, and left feeling they had been comforted by her presence as well.
Near the end of her life, Benedetta was completely immobile except some movement in one hand. She once said, “I want to say to those who are suffering, to the sick, that if we are humble and docile, the Lord will do great things in us.” Her love for the Lord and for others never wavered as she endured a lifetime of illness. She succumbed to her illness in 1964.
•In the Old Testament, the role of the priest was to offer animal sacrifices on behalf of the people. Why is it fitting to call Jesus a “high priest”?
•How does it make you feel to know that Jesus died on the cross so that your sins could be forgiven?
•What would you like to tell Jesus today?
•Blessed Benedetta Bianchi Porro suffered greatly in her life, yet through her suffering she brought people to Jesus. How can we use our times of suffering to bring people to Jesus?