Can someone become a saint in just a few months? This is the story of Carlotta, who embraced the cross with joy
ROME — It was Palm Sunday 2013. Pope Francis was speaking to young people, who were gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the annual World Youth Day celebration. He said: “You are not ashamed of his Cross! On the contrary, you embrace it, because you have understood that it is in giving ourselves, in giving ourselves, in emerging from ourselves that we have true joy and that, with his love, God conquered evil.”
Carlotta Nobile was following the celebration on television at her home in Benevento, Italy. She heard Pope Francis’ words and, at that moment, everything suddenly made sense: her illness, her suffering and her life which, at age 22, was already reaching its end.
A precocious and highly talented violinist; a renowned concert performer, despite her young age; a student of art history at La Sapienza and Luiss in Rome, as well as the University of Cambridge and at Sotheby’s Institute in New York and author of two books — up to that point Carlotta Nobile had raced through life, the wind blowing through the long blonde hair that made her look almost Scandinavian.
“I am like a river,” she wrote in 2007, “that, in order to flow into the sea, always chooses the longest, most torturous road. The most difficult. Perhaps it’s because, deep down, I believe that winning easily is like losing, and that losing to the impossible is like having won, for the sole fact of having tried. This is how my life has been: a challenge. And I think this is the way it will always be.”
In fact, when Carlotta learned she had cancer, she took on the illness as a challenge to be overcome. In April 2012 she opened a Facebook page, titled “Cancer, and then …” on which she posted her thoughts and reflections, sharing them with the many people who were fighting the same battle, offering them help and moral support. She shared with her “second family” on social media the “extraordinary thing” that happened to her after a hospitalization in Milan, “and after the news of the new brain metastases, in addition to those in the lungs and liver.”
She wrote: “I found the faith and surrender, to believe that the cross of this terrible cancer is an incredible OPPORTUNITY FOR GROWTH for me, although sometimes all of us who have cancer know how hard it is to live with it. … The way I live with this cancer (right now, when it is acting most aggressive with me!!!) has become a unique serenity and trust. … And all this thanks to FAITH and our extraordinary Pope Francis … who says that young people should carry the cross with joy.”
Everyone close to Carlotta — her parents, her beloved brother, Matteo, her fiancé, Alessandro, her friends — have become witnesses of her extraordinary trust, of her unconditional surrender to God, which she expressed in her continual recitation of the Our Father.