Chiara Lubich was born as Silvia Lubich in Trento. Her father lost his job because of the socialist ideas that he held during Italy's period of Fascism. Consequently, the Lubichs lived for years in extreme poverty. To pay for her university studies in philosophy, Lubich tutored other students in Venice and during the 1940s began teaching at an elementary school in Trent.
During World War II, while bombs were destroying Trent, Lubich had a powerful religious experience, 'stronger than the bombs that were falling on Trent' which Lubich immediately communicated to her closest friends. After convincing her friends they declared that, should they be killed, they wished to have only one inscription carved on their tomb: "And we have believed in love".
These Focolare (small communities of lay volunteers) seek to contribute to peace and to achieve the evangelical unity of all people in every social environment. The goal became a world living in unity, and its spirituality has helped dismantle centuries-old prejudices. Today its members are thousands of people who profess no particular religion.
In her life the day of 13 May 1944 remains the night of one of the most violent bombings of Trent. Lubich's house was among the many buildings destroyed. She decided to stay in Trent to help the new lives being born. She encountered a woman who had lost her senses through the suffering caused by the death of her four children. It was among the poor of Trent that which Lubich often calls the "divine adventure" began.
In 1948 Lubich met the Italian member of Parliament Igino Giordani, writer, journalist, pioneer in the field of ecumenism. He was the co-founder, with Lubich, of the movement, they also gave rise to the New Families Movement and the New Humanity Movement.
1949 marked the first encounter between Lubich and Pasquale Foresi. He was the first Focolarino to become a priest. He helped to progress the Movement's theological studies, and started the Città Nuova Publishing House and also helped to build the small town of Loppiano. Throughout the Movement's development, he has given a contribution to its ecclesiastical and lay expressions. Along with Lubich and Igino Giordani, he is considered a co-founder of the Movement.
In 1954 Lubich met, in Vigo di Fassa (near Trent), with escapees from the forced labour camps in Eastern Europe and after 1960 the Movement began to take shape clandestinely in those countries.
In 1959, at the Mariapolis (summer gathering of the Movement) in the Dolomite Mountains, Lubich addressed a group of politicians inviting them to go beyond the boundaries of their respective nations and to "love the nation of the other as you love your own". Internationalism became a hallmark of the Movement which rapidly spread, firstly in Italy, and afterwards, since 1952, throughout Europe, and since 1959 to other continents. "Little towns" began to be born from 1965 on, with the birth of the first in Loppiano, together with international congresses, and the use of the media contribute to the formation of people who live for the ideal of a "united world". Lubich founded the New Families Movement in 1967.
Chiara Lubich founded the Gen Movement as a youth based movement. (Gen standing for New Generation) which animates the wider "Young People for a United World".
In 1966 Chiara Lubich co-founded the school Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom College, Fontem in Cameroon with the assistance of the contemporaneous native chief of Fontem, Fon Fontem Defang. She visited the school in May 2000. The third generation (Gen 3) of the Movement, those who guide the "Youth for Unity" movement, was born in 1970.
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