Sandra Sabattini was born on 19 August 1961 at Riccione Hospital. She lived  in Misano Adriatico with her devoutly Christian family, parents Giuseppe Sabattini and Agnese Bonini and brother Raffaele. When she as 4, the little girl moved with her family to the rectory of the Parish of San Girolamo in Rimini, where her Uncle Giuseppe, her mother’s brother, was parish priest.

On 24 January 1972 at the age of 10, Sandra began keeping a diary: “A life lived without God is just a way of passing time, whether it’s boring or fun, time to be filled in while waiting for death”. At 12 she met Father Oreste Benzi, founder of the Pope John XXIII Community at one of the many meetings her uncle organised in the parish.

In the summer of 1974 she took part in the summer holiday for teenagers at the Madonna delle Vette home in Canazei, together with young people with disabilities, many of them serious. The experience left Sandra full of enthusiasm and when she returned home, she announced her decision to her mother: “We worked till we dropped, but these are people I’ll never leave”. Thus Sandra embarked on serious path of askesis, digging deep within herself to eliminate any defects and limits. “Lord, I feel You are giving me a hand get closer to You. You’re giving me the strength to take a step forward. I really want to accept this but first I must conquer myself , my pride, my insincerity. I have no humility and I don’t want to acknowledge it, I let myself be terribly affected by others, I’m afraid of what they may think of me. I’m inconsistent, with a great desire to revolutionise the world but then I let it subjugate me. God, are You able to accept me as I am, full of limits, fears and hopes?”.

In 1980 she passed her high-school-leaving exam in Rimini and then enrolled at Bologna University to study medicine. She never neglected her studies, getting excellent marks in every exam. One of her dreams was to become a medical missionary in Africa.

On the weekends and during the summer holidays of 1982 and 1983 she shared her life with the drug addicts in the Pope John XXIII Community rehabilitation centres. The young people in rehabilitation therapy felt loved by her with a pure, disinterested love and gradually they rediscovered the meaning of their life.

Sandra’s love for the Lord reflected upon all those who came into contact with her. Her personality radiated that joy and enthusiasm that lead to Jesus. She liked to experience her relationship with God in silence and so she used to get up very early in the morning to meditate in Church, in the dark, before the Holy Sacrament. In the evening too, no matter how late she came home, she would spend an hour in prayer before Jesus. She loved praying and meditating sitting on the floor, as a sign of humility and poverty. “The truth is that we must learn in the faith to wait for God, and it is no small task to make your spirit take on this attitude. This waiting, this not making plans, this scanning the sky, this being silent, is the most interesting  things we have to do. Then it’s time for the call to come, but we are blind if we believe we have brought about such miracles. The real miracle is that God calls upon us, such poor, miserable beings. Charity is the synthesis of contemplation and action, it is the point at which heaven joins earth, where human beings join with God”.

In April 1984 the Pope John XXIII Community was all together at a meeting in Igea Marina, near Rimini. On Sunday 29 April at 9.30 in the morning she arrived there by car with her fiancé and a friend. Just as she got out of the car she, together with her friend Elio, were hit violently by another car. It was immediately clear she was in a serious condition and on 2 May 1984 Sandra died in hospital in Bologna. In 1985 Father Oreste Benzi edited the first edition of her diary and in 2003 the second edition, extended it with scholarly notes on her life. In September 2006 the Bishop of Rimini, Mons. Mariano De Nicolò, introduced the cause for canonisation of the Servant of God Sandra Sabattini, starting the process of examining her life, virtues and hunger for sanctity.

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