On 7th December 1943, Chiara Lubich had only the sentiments of a beautiful young woman in love with God to whom she was giving her YES forever. That was all she wanted.
Could she ever have imagined that during the 88 years of her life, millions of people would follow her and address her simply as “Chiara”?
For sure, she didn’t imagine that she and her friends would reach 182 nations and open channels of ecumenical dialogue and that her spiritual family would welcome in the faithful of other religions and people without any formal faith. Quite the contrary: she never thought of starting a Movement.
In 1977, while going over her story, she stated: “The pen doesn’t know what it must write, the brush doesn’t know what it must paint, and the chisel doesn’t know what it must sculpt. When God takes a creature into his hands (…), that person doesn’t know what he or she should do. They’re just an instrument.”
She was a pioneer for her time: in a global society, she proposed themes and openings that pointed the way towards universal brotherhood. She respected life and traced out a way of holiness that can be practiced by anyone.
The Focolare Movement began with Chiara Lubich (Trent 22nd January, 1920 – Rocca di Papa 14th March, 2008).
After a few months, the first group of girls had some 500 people of all ages and walks of life following them sharing the ideal of unity. Soon enough, the Movement spread to various cities in Italy.
The first one was Rome, where Chiara herself moved to in 1948, followed by Florence, Milan, Syracuse…
In 1956 it spread all over Europe, in 1958 to South America and in 1961 North America. In 1963 it was Africa’s turn, in 1966 Asia and in 1967 Australia.
There was no specific plan or blueprint for spreading the Movement but ‘Someone’ led the way. And the same holds true today.