The adventure of unity came from a charism of the Spirit in the person of Chiara Lubich. At least 5 Popes have confirmed this as well as innumerable personalities from across the spectrum of Christianity. This ‘gift’ appeared very quickly, almost immediately, as eminently collective and communitarian. Even before she had made her consecration to God, Chiara Lubich, then a young teacher, met in July 1943 the person who was to become her first companion in the Focolare in Piazza Cappuccini, Natalia Dallapiccola. It was to Natalia that Chiara had said ‘You must get to know God; He is not only goodness, patience and mercy, but also beauty, love, light for every mind.’ Chiara shared straight away with Doriana Zamboni, know to everyone as Dori, that she had made her consecration to God on 7th December 1943. Chiara gave Dori lessons in philosophy and in October that year had said to Dori, ‘We want to make a new house. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a cloister with lots of columns. We want to make a cloister where the columns are people living and in the middle there is a garden with a spring of fresh water: Jesus.’
In the early days when the Movement was a group of young men and women around Chiara, there were among them a few who were particularly linked to her. They were clear in their conviction that the charism had been given personally to Chiara. These people, each with strong personalities, were a mix of well educated, some less so, professionals and skilled workers such as an electrician, brought to all that they did the indelible mark of unity: each one of them in fact, through meeting the charism of unity radically changed their lives, putting them at the service of the charism.
In one of that closer group, Giosi Guella, Chiara recognised ‘incarnate’ all that was involved in the charism to do with ‘inside’, the life ‘in the home’, trusted to keep the ‘flame’ of love alive among them. In Graziella De Luca, a fervent dynamic young girl, Chiara felt there was, in some way, all that the charism turned to the ‘outside’, the spreading onto the world of the light that had been received. Between those two, there was Natalia Dallapiccola, who in the light of Chiara appeared with her in some way that summarised these two ‘dimensions’: ‘In her the external and internal are united’, Chiara wrote in October 1950. Chiara in some way often clearly, ‘saw’ or ‘recognised’ the different aspects of her charism. She saw them in the human attitudes of each person, but ‘clarified’, purified, raised up in the Spirit. Each one of her first companions in a way became a segment of the complex design of the Opera (Work of Mary) that would be born.
Some of these people have already left this world, whilst others continue their work, faithful to the end of all their energy. In an extraordinary way, they are a complete body, indissolubly united to the founder and give witness to the “collective holiness”, which is an integral part of the charism of unity.
Note: The Work of Mary (Opera di Maria) is the Official title of the Focolare Movement