Interview: The husband of Chiara Corbella on his wife’s sacrifice and possible canonization


Enrico Petrillo: “More than feeling that the world was against us, we knew that we were with the Lord.”


Revista Mision

Just a few months later, Chiara became pregnant with their first child, Maria Grazia Letizia. Up to here, their story is similar to that of many other young married couples.

However, with the results of the first ultrasounds came the first trial by fire: the little girl was suffering from anencephaly, a malformation which, generally, causes the baby’s death shortly after birth.

Despite the death sentence that hung over her, Maria Grazia “made them open their hearts, opened the window to grace — and true love entered in, eternity.”

Chiara never stopped repeating that “every little kick of her baby was a gift.” Once born, Maria Grazia lived for half an hour. For her funeral, Enrico prepared a memorial card with a simple phrase: “We are born never to die.”

It was the first time that his friends and family read that phrase. Those words, which provided the title for the book in which he narrates his experiences of his marriage, resonate throughout every step of his journey.

Enrico explains to Revista Misión that he first heard the phrase from a catechist who was dying from cancer. “It remained engraved upon my heart. It’s one of those things that God sends you for it to stay with you.”

“Why did you write the book?” we ask Enrico. He answers, very unpretentiously, that people have added “romantic” elements to the story of his marriage with Chiara, which are not faithful to the actual facts. “I wanted to tell people what happened, without idealizing it,” he explains.

We return to the past again, and we talk about his second child, Davide Giovanni. A few months after Maria Grazia’s death, the Petrillos are once again expecting the birth of a child.

Revista Mision

This time, the baby boy has grave and unusual malformations. In the words of the geneticist, “When it rains, it pours.” The same story seemed to be repeating itself.

They asked themselves if they should close themselves off to life. Enrico’s answer was emphatic: “If God creates life for eternity, who am I to say no?” “Yes, many times we asked ourselves the question, ‘Where is God leading us with these trials?’”

“It was beautiful to trust and to walk together through that dark valley, where we felt that someone was guiding us, even though we couldn’t see it,” he remembers. “It was all beyond any human logic, but I was at peace,” he says in the book.

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