Life

Benedetta was born in Dovadola (Dovadola; the house where Benedetta was born) , a village in the province of Forli, on 8th August 1936. She is the daughter of Elsa Giammarchi and engineer Guido Bianchi Porro. Benedetta is the second oldest of six children. Struck by poliomyelitis when she was only a few months old, she is left with a crippled leg. The children of the village call her "Limpy", but she is not offended. Her words are meant to defend them, "It's only the truth", she says to her mother. (pictures of Benedetta: 2 years old; a little child;with her mom; 4 years old)  This was the first of many trials that were to blossom into a covenant of love and friendship with God; into a veritable apostolate of suffering.

At the early age of five, she started to write a diary at the request of her mother who saw in this child something over and above the natural qualities of her other children. It is through her diary and her letters that we learn of her suffering and her personal experience in faith; of how she gave God the central place in her life; of how she made Him known to all those who witnessed or learned of her power to accept His designs, which at times were mysterious and incomprehensible even to her.

At the beginning of World War II her family evacuated to Casticciano (picture) , near Bertinoro. (pictures of Benedetta with her family in1941; at primary school).

In 1944, with the arrival of the English- American allies, the German troops retreat, passing through Romagna. The echo of this can be caught in the diaries, that she began to write when she was only 5 years old, at the request of her mother. They are short notes, according to her young age, in which she is speaking very often about her family, nature, games and her feelings. (picture of 7 years old Benedetta)

Benedetta is a sensitive, delicate, intelligent and strong- willed girl. She joyfully plays with her siblings and other friends, but everynow and then she feels the need to withdraw herself in thoughtful silence: these are the moments in which Benedetta stands in awe and wonder before the amazing miracle of life in all things, in the flowers, in the sunny fields, in her little cherry tree that she is watering daily, in the marvellous dawn. It is only then, that she reveals her discoveries. "The universe is enchanting! It is great to be alive!". A happy child, she would run to see the harvesting of the grain, sit spellbound listening to the men singing at their work, mingle with other children frolicking on the threshing floor and then would climb a huge cypress tree, because "up in its branches she had built her little house." .

One is struck by this need that she had to be alone to contemplate the world around her; a world she was learning to love in its simplicity, beauty and majesty; a world which in time was to be forever closed to her, but which would always remain vivid in her fond memories.

At the age of 9, the return of peace has a happy adventure in store for her: Benedetta will move to Forli where she will stay until 1951, except for a short stay in Brescia, as a guest of the Rabotti family.

With parents and siblings she is leading a tranquil life. She skips one class and is studying with the Sisters of St. Dorothy. The years spent in Romagna are happy ones. There she leads a simple life: birthday parties, Sunday school, piano lessons, the Sunday dress. (picture of Benedetta at secondary school)  "Remember, Manuela, how happy we were when we were going with mom to St. Mercuriale and we all wanted to stay close to her, how happy we were then! And we didn't know we were."

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