Benedetta Bianchi Porro

The room of Benedetta Bianchi Porro

The room of Benedetta Bianchi Porro

Benedetta Bianchi Porro was born in Dovàdola in 1936. Her parents were Guido Bianchi Porro and Elsa Giammarchi and she was the second of six children. Her siblings were Gabriele (b. 1938), Manuela (b. 1941), Corrado (b. 1946) and Carmen (b. 1953); her half-brother was Leonida (b. 1930).

She was baptized "in necessity" at the request of her mother with water from Lourdes; she received formal baptism on the following 13 August in the name of "Benedetta Bianca Maria". Three months after her birth, she fell ill with polio and required a brace on her left leg and an orthopedic shoe in order to prevent her spine from deforming.

From the age of five Benedetta began to keep a journal where she wrote her thoughts and experiences; one such entry was at the age of seven: "The universe is enchanting! It is great to be alive!"

She attended the elementary school in Desenzano and the high school in Brescia, both overseen by the Ursulines. In 1942, the family moved to Sirmione.

In May 1944 she received her First Communion in the Annunciation Church, where she was given a rosary that she would always keep with her. Later she received the Confirmation from the Bishop of Modigliana Maximilian Massimiliani. In 1950 she was convoked by Pope Pius XII, so Benedetta and her aunt Carmen travelled on pilgrimages to Assisi, Rome and Loreto.

She enjoyed reading and she preferred Tolstoy since she liked Russian literature, and also liked Horace and William Shakespeare.

In October 1953 - at the age of seventeen - she travelled to Milan where she enrolled in a physics course in order to appease her father, but she discovered that her true calling was medicine;

In 1957 it was discovered that she had fallen victim to the rare Von Recklinghausen's disease, which would leave her blind and deaf. Due to her illness, she was forced to leave medical school.

Her first operation in 1958 caused partial paralysis on the left side of her face; a second operation in August 1959 left her completely paralyzed and confined her to a wheelchair. She also began to lose the five senses gradually

In May 1962 she undertook a pilgrimage to Lourdes seeking a miracle for her ailments. Benedetta went back on 24 June 1963 where she discovered that her disease would increase and she would die.

She underwent several operations which left her blind and paralyzed; she could barely speak. The number of people who visited her increased steadily as word of her holiness and gentle understanding of love of God spread. On 20 August 1963, a nurse found her in ecstasy and later Benedetta confided that she had seen the Virgin Mary and said: "How beautiful the Madonna is!"

Her health declined dramatically after her pilgrimage to Lourdes, and on the night of 22 January 1964 said to her nurse: "Emilia, tomorrow I will die. I feel very ill". Benedetta died in the morning of 23 January 1964 after receiving Communion and Reconciliation, and was buried in the cemetery of Sirmione; her remains were later transferred to the Church of Saint Andrew in Dovádola.

 

The process for beatification was approved on 12 July 1975 which bestowed Benedetta with the title Servant of God - this signified the beginning of the first phase of the beatification process, which spanned from 25 January 1976 until 9 July 1977.

Pope John Paul II declared her to be Venerable on 23 December 1993 on the account of her model life based on exercising heroic virtue to a high degree.

The miracle needed for her beatification was investigated and was declared valid on 20 June 2014. It has been reported that the beatification could take place in 2017 since the miracle requires the approval of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and the pope.