Chiara Lubich bigraphy, stories - Founders

Chiara Lubich : biography

January 22, 1920 - March 14, 2008

Chiara Lubich (22 January 1920 – 14 March 2008) was an Italian Catholic activist and leader and founder of the Focolare Movement.


  • Essential Writings: Spirituality Dialogue Culture - New City (16 Feb 2007) - ISBN 1-905039-01-8, ISBN 978-1-905039-01-2


In 1991, shortly after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, during a trip to Brazil, as a response to the situation of those who live in sub-human conditions in the outskirts of the metropolises there, Lubich launched a new project: the "Economy of Communion in Freedom". This quickly developed in various countries involving hundreds of businesses, giving rise to a new economic theory and praxis.

In 1996 Lubich received an Honorary Degree in Social Sciences from the Catholic University of Lublin in Poland. Professor Adam Biela spoke of the "Copernican revolution in the Social Sciences, brought about by her having given life to a 'paradigm of unity' which shows the new psychological, social and economic dimensions which today's post-communist society has been waiting for in this new and difficult transitional phase".

In 1996 Lubich was awarded the UNESCO Prize for education to peace, in Paris, motivated by the fact that, "in an age when ethnic and religious differences too often lead to violent conflict, the spread of the Focolare Movement has also contributed to a constructive dialogue between persons, generations, social classes and peoples."

Lubich was the first Christian, the first lay person, and the first woman to be invited to communicate her spiritual experience to a group of 800 Buddhist monks and nuns in Thailand (January 1997), to 3,000 Muslim Americans of African descent at the Malcolm Shabazz Mosque in Harlem New York City (May 1997),Muslim Journal, June 1997 and to the Jewish community in Buenos Aires (April 1998).

Honorary degrees/Awards

In 1977, Lubich received the Templeton Prize for progress in religion and peace. The presence of many representatives of other religions at the ceremony brought about the beginning of the Movement's inter-religious dialogue.

In 1996, she was also conferred the UNESCO Peace Education Prize.

In May 1997 she visited the United Nations, where she made a speech regarding the unity of peoples in the "Glass Palace". In September 1998 in Strasbourg she was presented with the 1998 Prize for Human Rights by the Council of Europe, for her work "in defence of individual and social rights".

She received honorary degrees in various disciplines: from theology to philosophy, from economics to human and religious sciences, from social science to social communications. These were conferred not only by Catholic universities, but also by lay universities, in Poland, the Philippines, Taiwan, the United States, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina.

Chiara Lubich was honoured with a Doctorate of Divinity (Honoris Causa) from Liverpool Hope University. She thanked the University and provide her hopes for the future: "My most sincere thanks to all at Liverpool Hope University for this doctorate of Divinity in recognition of the Focolare Movement's work in ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue".


In November 2000 she met with 5000 Christians and Muslims in Washington, D.C.. At this meeting, the leader of the American Society of Muslims, Imam Warith Deen Mohammed responded to Chiara’s address, giving an inkling of the depths of this communion: “I read in the Bible when Jesus Christ, peace be upon him, invited his followers to wash each other’s feet, and I think that’s just what we are doing. We are washing each other’s feet.” Quoted by Amelia J. Uelmen, Chiara Lubich: a life for unity

Early life

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.Jim Galagher, A Woman's Work: Chiara Lubich: A Biography of the Focolare Movement and Its Founder New City Press, 1997

Living octopus

Living octopus

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