“From Rome she spread her ideal of universal brotherhood all over the world.” These are the words that the municipality wished to have engraved on a plaque in the name of the city of Rome at the Viale Libia subway station which has been dedicated to Chiara Lubich.
The ceremony took place before a small crowd on March 14, 2013 on the fifth anniversary of the Focolare founder’s birth to Heaven. She had lived not far from the station in the early days of the Movement at the Italian capital. Maria Voce remarked on this in her address:
“What a beautiful choice of location (. . .) the quarter where for fifteen years Chiara lived both moments of special light as she watched the main features of a work of God begin to emerge, and moments of great suffering as the Movement was under scrutiny and study by the Church.” Speaking at the “Chiara Lubich: Charism, History, Culture” Conference Mayor Gianni Alemanno highlighted the unity between this event and the election of the Archbishop of Buenos Aires to the papacy: “Today we will perform a gesture that is simple, we will unveil a plaque.” May it be a reminder of Chiara to the countless people who will pass through this train station and be reminded of this journey of faith as a contribution to a sorely needed new humanism. The choice of a pope who comes from the southern hemisphere is a clear sign of the times. We will only emerge from the economic crisis in which we find ourselves by choosing humility and simplicity.” Later on during the unveiling ceremony, the Mayor paused to dwell on Chiara Lubich’s “deep bond with Rome where, in the heart of the Trieste quarter, she laboured, reflected, wrote and sent out her message.”
This relationship with the city of Rome had been affirmed by the conferring of Honorary Citizenship on the Focolare founder on January 22, 2000, her 80th birthday. On that occasion, Maria Voce recalls, Chiara expressed all her “passion for the Eternal City and also the precise commitment of dedicating herself more, so that Rome, a city so unique in the world, symbol of unity and universality might better correspond to its vocation.” This is a commitment as deep as it is practical for the life of every person: “In Chiara Lubich’s message,” Maria Voce continued, “we are offered paths that are drawn from the Gospel: Love is the driving force of history, but we need to know ‘how to love’ according to that demanding art of loving everyone, being the first to love, loving with facts, making yourself one with the other, being capable of forgiving… This begins from the person next to us: at home, in the condominium, in the quarter, on the street, in the places we study, at work, gathering places, even in Parliament, even in the train station that is a continuous crossroad of people but also symbol of anonymity.”
It brings to mind one of the most meaningful pages left to us by Chiara: “This is the great attraction of modern times: to penetrate into the highest contemplation and remain mixed in among the people, a person alongside others, losing oneself in the crowd in order to infuse it with the Divine Life, as you would dunk a piece of bread into wine”, “to mark the crowd with embroideries of light” “sharing with others the shame, the hunger, the beatings of life, the brief joys” “because the great attraction of our time is the same as every other time. It is the most human and divine thing that you can imagine: Jesus and Mary: the Word of God a carpenter’s son; the Seat of Wisdom, the Mother at home.”
In thanking Mayor Alemanno, the Capital Administration and all those who worked on the beautiful project, Maria Voce expressed her hope that from their efforts would emerge “an inspiration to live everywhere the fully human and fully spiritual vocation of the beloved city of Rome, and to ignite small fires of light and hope for the good of all.”