The Focolare Movement

The Focolare Movement is an international organization that promotes the ideals of unity and universal brotherhood. Founded in 1943 in Trento, northern Italy by Chiara Lubich as a religious movement, the Focolare Movement, though primarily Roman Catholic, now has strong links to the major Christian denominations and other religions, or in some cases, with the non-religious. As a reflection of its Marian character, it is also called the "Opera di Maria," or "Work of Mary". The Focolare Movement is present today in 182 nations and reaches millions of people.[1] The Movement's name comes from the Italian word for "hearth" or "family fireside".

History and charism

The Movement's foundress, Chiara Lubich, together with a small group of friends, concluded that God is the only ideal worth living for and as a result they focused their lives on the Gospel. Many others followed. Their goal became one of striving towards the fulfillment of Jesus' prayer to the Father: "May they all be one" (John 17:21).

A spirituality of unity resulted and gave rise to a movement of spiritual and social renewal.

Areas of outreach

Through its 18 branches and six mass movements the Focolare spirituality is having an impact on family life, the youth world and on all areas of ecclesial and secular life.


* 33 small cities throughout the world strive to be an example of a society renewed by the Gospel message of unity. The first of these cities is Loppiano, which was built over a terrain donated by the family one of the participants, Eletto. In the United States the small city Mariapolis Luminosa is located in Hyde Park, New York.
* The Abba School is an interdisciplinary study center for an elaboration of scholarly disciplines.
* The Economy of Communion in Freedom[3], based on a culture of giving, is an innovative economic proposal now encompassing close to 800 businesses in the world. [4]
* The Movement for Unity in Politics, present in over 40 countries, is an association of politicians who, in unity across party lines, put the common good first [5]
* Over 1,000 social programs are active worldwide.
* 27 publishing houses produce books and magazines.
* Centers for the arts and media are inspired by "God as Beauty".


Throughout the years dialogues have opened up: in the Catholic world, among individuals, groups, movements and associations, to contribute to the strengthening of unity; among Christians of different churches in order to work together towards full communion; among believers of different religions to foster universal brotherhood; and with people of good will with no religious affiliation to work together to safeguard human values such as freedom, respect for human rights, solidarity and peace.

In brief

The group's belief is that the charism of unity which the Holy Spirit entrusted to the Focolare is a gift of light and love. Wherever it is received, it promotes a new lifestyle, the spirituality of unity, which brings about unity and universal brotherhood in the world. The charism of unity which the Holy Spirit entrusted to the Focolare is a gift of light and love. Wherever it is received, it promotes a new lifestyle, the spirituality of unity, which brings about unity and universal brotherhood in the world. John Paul II, in his letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, proposed it to the entire Catholic Church referring to it as a ‘spirituality of communion.' It is focused on a Gospel-based love which, when put into practice, revives individuals and communities, bringing a new spirit to every expression of life. - Chiara Lubich upon receiving the honorary citizenship of Milan March 2004.


Every summer the Movement holds local retreats--over 100 worldwide--termed Mariapolises, where members and newcomers come together to discuss the Movement and its spirituality while putting it into practice. The first Mariapolis was held in 1949 in Fiera di Primiero, in the heart of Italy's Dolomite Mountains. Each year, over 200,000 persons attend a Mariapolis.

Like the composition of the Movement itself, Mariapolises are attended mostly by Catholics, but also by those of other faiths, and many who adhere to no particular faith. The Focolare's interreligious efforts are manifest at the Mariapolis--it's common to have a Muslim prayer room, or a panel discussion with leaders from multiple faiths.

These short summertime retreats are related to, but not to be confused with, the Permanent Mariapolises, 33 little cites that serve as Focolare centers. Like the summer retreats, these cities play host to the Movement's practical efforts (publishing, hosting events, etc.) while being models of how to live its spirituality. The most developed of these little cities is Loppiano[7], in Tuscany.


As a response to the group's perception of a need in the world for a different way of living, working, and communicating, Chiara Lubich has launched "inundations" in the Movement. They consist in a slow changing of all job spaces, resulting in a better relationship. The media, sports, and teaching are the first affected areas, where the adherents try not only to sell, but to instruct; play not only to win, but to respect the others; and teach not only as a job, but seeing each student as unique.

Their official web site is