(Clelia Nanetti - Italian - 28 years old)
She was boron on 9 January 1872 at Santa Maria Maddalena,
the province of Rovigo, in Italy. Her parents received her with
joy: she was lively, precocious, ardent … loved by all - her
family and the people of the village - of an impulsive nature, exuberant, intelligent and joyful, she grasped everything very quickly. In school, her teachers tried to discipline her. After Primary School, she helped in the house. She was charming, everybody waited for her, but very soon Clelia felt attracted to another ideal.
What was the first indication of her religious vocation?
Her parents obliged her to go the Ball, but the choice was already made in her heart. Barnabé, her Franciscan brother, helped her on her journey of offering herself to God. At eighteen years of age, she asked her parents to allow her to be a religious, but they thought this was just an idealism of youth. Clelia knew what she wanted and the struggle began. She experienced suffering, bitterness, hatred, despair … every kind of misery of this world. The desire to give herself, to serve, to live and proclaim the Gospel grew in her.
She came to know the Institute of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary through her brother and the missionary horizon opened out before her.
Her strong personality urged her towards to a firm decision and, on 24 January 1892, she entered the pre-novitiate; then, in April she began her novitiate and received the name of Maria Chiara. Clare" (clear) and such was her life and her offering; a frank nature, transparent, ardent, Chiara personified missionary joy, being generous and self-forgetful, often too hasty but always ready to sacrifice for others.
In China, confronted with the bishop's suggestion to leave because of the danger, Chiara exclaimed: «Monsignor, flee? No. We came to give our lives for God if needs be!» However, since the orphans, too, were in danger, Monsignor was preparing two cars to take them away to a Christian village, and Chiara was to accompany the group. But the gates of the town were already blocked and they had to come back ... Having accomplished her duty, she returned happy ...
In the final trial, Chiara was the first, they say, to receive the mortal blow … Perhaps her height attracted attention … Was it, perhaps, that she always went forward too quickly towards what she thought was God's will? … Her last words were doubtless those she so often repeated: "Onward always!"