Chiara Lubich: LIGHT LIFE and CULTURE

Focolare Movement

The Focolare Movement (also called the Work of Mary) is an ecclesial Movement of spiritual social renewal. Its appearance is that of an entire people made up of persons from different races, cultures and walks of life.

It is present in 194 countries. It has centres in 81 countries.

Its charism is unity: ‘May they all be one … so that the world may believe that you have sent me’ (John 17:21).

Its aim is to contribute to an ever increasing unity within the Church and among the Churches, dialogue among believers of different religions, with those without any specifically religious convictions and with every dimension of human culture, building fraternity within the human family

It is run by about 140,000 people and has more than 2 million people who adhere to it or sympathize with it. Its influence spreads to millions more, a number difficult to quantify.

Its founder is Chiara Lubich (1920-2008). The drama of the Second World War gave a decisive lesson: everything collapses, everything is vanity of vanities. Only God remains. ‘God-love’ erupted into her life and the life of her first companions, transforming it. This discovery was immediately communicated to others and shared by many. It was an inspiring spark. The Gospel was rediscovered as revolutionary, personal and communitarian, and it was seen to heal divisions, conflicts and social inequality.

The Movement come into existence in Trent, Northern Italy, on 7 December 1943.

The Spirituality of unity

It is rooted in the rediscovery of the Gospel. It generates a way of living that, inspired by Christian principles, responds to the wide-spread longing for meaning and authenticity in life and contributes to bringing unity into the world. Mutual love to the point of reaching unity is its ‘paradigm’, its ‘code’ for spiritual and social renewal.

It has spread beyond the Roman Catholic Church, and about 25,000 Christians from 350 Churches and ecclesial communities belong to it, as well as, in various ways, more than 7,000 followers of world religions and more than 10,000 people who have no specifically religious reference point.

The structure of the Movement

It has, at its heart, key communities, the focolares, which are made up of men or women totally given to God and of married people. Right from the beginning, young people and families, the elderly and children, workers and professionals, politicians and persons of culture, religious from various congregations and consecrated members of secular institutes, and priests have heard the call to live the spirituality of unity radically and, in a real way, build up fraternity and unity.

Even though they are all part of the same body, they belong to twenty-five different branches that, in their turn, serve nine wider movements at work in the world of the family, with youth and children, in society and in the church (among seminarians, priests, religious, parishes and dioceses). Among these branches there are also bishops who belong spiritually to the Movement.

The little towns

The little towns are models of a new society and have spread across the world. At the moment they number about thirty, at different stages of development. Each one has a specific characteristic related to the context where it is located. They have all the features of a town: houses, schools and workplaces, and gospel love is their law.

Solidarity and co-operation

Solidarity and co-operation are core features of numerous and varied social projects across the globe. Health and educational projects are particularly well developed and they can be found in the depressed areas of the Philippines, Cameroon, among refugees in Tanzania, Congo, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and Haiti. The value given to reciprocity encourages autonomous development and social regeneration. There are more 18,000 adoptions at a distance in forty-five countries and two NGOs: Azione Mondo Unito (Action for a united World) and New Humanity.

Intellectual work

It is conducted in particular by the Abba School, an interdisciplinary research centre made up of academics from various disciplines. They are in the process of striving to draw out the first outlines of a new culture as it emerges from the charism of unity. A new development has been the Sophia University Institute, based at Loppiano, near Florence, inaugurated on 1 December 2008.

In addition, various international networks have been set up, linking scholars, professionals, students and workers from a range of disciplines: social communications, law, art, medicine, education, psychology, architecture and sport. They hold conferences, run courses and publish in dialogue with contemporary culture. Among the most developed are the Economy of Communion, which is the inspiration behind more than 700 businesses, and the Movement for Unity in Politics which promotes fraternity as a political category.

Publishing activities

Publishing is done under the name of New City in various languages. There are 38 magazines throughout the world, in 23 different languages, and 25 Publishing Houses in 25 nations:

  • the bimonthly academic and cultural journal Nuova Umanità;
  • the English-language twice yearly online, open access, academic journal Claritas;
  • the bimonthly journals for priests and religious in different languages Gen’s and Unity and Charisms;
  • a quarterly journal Economia di Comunione. Una cultura nuova;
  • and the Word of Life, a single sheet published monthly with a spiritual and theological commentary on a verse of Scripture, translated into 96 languages, with more than 2 million copies printed and broadcast also via radio, television and the internet.


Presiding over the Movement is its President, Maria Voce (Emmaus), and a Co-President, Giancarlo Faletti (a priest focolarino). They are helped by a General Council.

Pontifical Approval

Pontifical Approval was first given by the Holy in 1962. Further approval was given after subsequent developments in the Movement in 1990 and in 2007.

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