Chiara Lubich: LIGHT LIFE and CULTURE


Outline of the life of Chiara Lubich (an excerpt)

Founder of the Focolare Movement

1920  Chiara Lubich is born in Trent, Northern Italy, on 22 January.

1938  Having received her primary-school teaching diploma, she teaches in several towns in the valleys of the Trentino region. She enrols on a philosophy course at Venice University. She will not be able to complete her degree because of the war and her dedication to the newly-begun Movement.

1939  During a visit to the Marian shrine of Loreto, she has an intuition of her vocation: a small community modelled on the family of Nazareth with Jesus in its midst. It will be the focolare.

1943  On 7 December in secret she gives her life to God. This day is considered the beginning of the Focolare Movement (the Work of Mary).

1944  Trent is bombed. Chiara and her friends read the Gospel in the air-raid shelters, finding its words lit by a new light. In Jesus’ last Testament ‘May they all be one’, they perceive their reason for living. It becomes the core of the ‘spirituality of unity’. On 13 March the Lubich home is damaged by the bombs. The family evacuate to the mountains, but Chiara decides to stay in Trent. She finds a place to live with her companions in ‘piazza dei Cappuccini’. It is the first focolare.

1947  The first diocesan approval of the Focolare by the Archbishop of Trent, Carlo De Ferrari.

1948  In Rome Chiara meets Igino Giordani, a Member of Parliament, writer and journalist, who will become the first married focolarino and give a decisive contribution to the Movement’s development.

1949  During a time of rest in the mountains around Trent, Chiara has a powerful mystical experience that will also illuminate the basic outlines of the Movement. In December she meets Pasquale Foresi, a young Catholic man from Pistoia. After his priestly ordination in 1954, he will become the first priest focolarino. His contribution will be decisive for the Focolare’s Statutes, for its theological studies and for the setting up of the Publishing House Città Nuova and of the little town, Loppiano.

1950  The Movement begins to spread, first of all in Italy, then in 1952 in Europe and then in 1958 to the other continents.

1961  In Darmstadt, Germany, Chiara meets several Lutheran pastors. This is the beginning of an ecumenical experience that will spread among Lutheran Evangelicals and, afterwards, among Anglicans, Reformed, Orthodox and every kind of Christian. Today it has reached more than 350 Churches and Christian Communities. In Rome Centro Uno is established for ecumenical activity.

1962  John XXIII gives the first papal approval of the Focolare Movement ad experimentum. Further developments of the Movement will be approved in 1990. The latest version of the Statutes was approved on 15 March 2007.

1964  At Loppiano, near Florence, a small town is established, called Mariapolis (City of Mary). Today it has more than 900 inhabitants of various nationalities. It is the first of thirty-three Mariapolises in different parts of the world.

1977  In London Chiara receives the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion. She speaks of her spiritual pathway in London’s Guildhall and at Lambeth Palace. In the interest shown by the representatives of various religions listening to her, she saw a sign of a something new: interreligious dialogue.

1979  In Rome Chiara meets Nikkyo Niawano, from Japan. He is the founder of a large Buddhist lay organization, Rissho Kosei-kai. In 1981 she will be invited to speak in a Buddhist Temple in Tokyo to an audience of 10,000 members of Rissho Kosei-kai. In the same year she will found the ‘School for Dialogue with Oriental Religions’ in Tagaytay, the Philippines.

1980  There begin to be huge international events, held every few years, transmitted around the world via satellite. Among these is the Genfest for young adults, the Familyfest for families, the meetings of New Humanity focusing on social transformation and the Supercongress for children.

1990  The Abba School, a centre for interdisciplinary research, is established.

1991  Chiara launches the Economy of Communion project to reduce poverty and promote communion as a way of conducting economic relations. Today the project involves hundreds of businesses all over the world. It also has an impact at an academic level, inspiring theses, a range of publications and conferences.

1996  The Movement for Unity in Politics is established. Open to members of all parties, it is founded on fraternity as a basic political category and works for the sake of the common good to protect genuine values. It will spread to many countries, particularly in Europe and Latin America.

1997 In January Chiara is invited to speak to 800 Buddhist monks and nuns in Thailand; in May to speak to 3000 African American Muslims in Harlem, New York. In April 1998 she will meet members of the Jewish community in Argentina. In 2001 and 2003 she will be invited to India to visit Hindu academic institutions and Gandhian centres in Tamil Nadu. These are a few of the journeys typical of her activity until 2004.

2004  Chiara is among those who set up a process of communion among Movements in different European Churches. This network runs an event called Together for Europe which seeks to contribute to giving a soul to the continent in the difficult process of its gradual coming together. Meeting in Stuttgart are 9000 people from 150 Movements and communities. They are linked via satellite to more than 160 cities. It will be the first of a serious of events and initiatives.

2007  Sophia University Institute is established in Loppiano. It was approved by pontifical decree on 7 December 2007, and it offers graduate degrees in ‘Foundations and Perspectives of a Culture of Unity’.

2008  Chiara dies in peace on 14 March at the age of 88. At her funeral, celebrated in basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls thousands of people are present, including numerous cardinals and bishops, representatives of various Churches and of different religions and people with no specifically religious convictions.

A complete outline



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