In the summer of 1962, Chiara Lubich had the first insight of what the “towns” or the “permanent Mariapolis” would be today. “It was in Einsedeln (Switzerland) that I saw, upon viewing from the top of a hill, the basilica and its surroundings, that in the Movement there would be a city one day, which would not be formed by an abbey or hotels, but by houses, work places, and schools like a common city,” Chiara wrote in her diary (March 1967).
There are now 32 little towns spread out in all the continents and inhabited by people who want to live an experience of giving to the others. These are workshops of fraternity in which human relationships are imbued with the spirituality of unity, to build a society based on the evangelical law of mutual love. Each of these towns has a particular characteristic which blends with the social context in which it arises. Loppiano, the first town built in the 1960s close to Florence (Italy) and Montet (Switzerland) are characterised by internationality, multiculturality and training. Ottmaring (Germany) has an ecumenical calling: the inhabitants are members of various churches. The central and southern towns of America are more oriented towards social commitment. Tagaytay (Philippines) and the town of Luminosa (USA) are oriented towards interreligious dialogue, and Fontem, in Cameroon, towards enculturation, and so on.
These days, taking advantage of the Christmas celebrations, the towns propose moments of rest in their typical spirit of fraternity. From Loppiano the youths write: “We are organizing a three-day event from 30 December to 1 January and we want it to be more than a just a feast.” There will also be the chance to make music with the International Gen Verde band which is based in the town, and stage a “One World Celebration” with the artists on 31 December, New Year’s Eve, in the Loppiano Auditorium. The day after, there will be a New Year Concert offered by a team of artists led by Sandro Crippa.
In the United States, the inhabitants of the Mariapolis Luminosa located in Hyde Park (NY) in the beautiful Hudson Valley, will propose from mid-December onward, a recital of polyphonic Choirs that will interpret the typical Christmas Carols with a programme also for children. The town is also the location of an expo of 50 Nativity scenes initiated in 1987 and which had reaped immediate success. The number of visitors, students, families, and adolescents is continually growing.
At the Mariapolis Centre “Am Spiegeln” (Vienna), from 27 to 30 December, there will a nice programme with walks, excursions to the park and castle of Schönbrunn, games, moments for reflection and prayer: “We’d like to offer a place where people can meet without prejudice,” they wrote.
In Belgium, the “Mariapolis Vita” is in Rotselaar. Its specific trait lies in its ecological orientation. During these days there will be an annual Antiques Market and on Sunday, 17 December, the traditional auction sale will be held to raise funds to support the town.
From “Mariapolis Lia” (Argentina), they wrote: «As always, we have invited some lonely and elderly people for Christmas lunch. It is a tradition by now. We shall offer our guests some moments of reflection and sharing. Also the dinner on the 24 and lunch on 25 December will be moments of fraternity among us all. With the relatives of the many youths in the town, we shall set up a living Nativity scene after the Christmas Eve mass, while the Mariapolis choir will enliven the assembly with Christmas songs of different countries. Furthermore, this year we shall participate in the live Nativity scene to be set up by the parish of the nearby town of O’Higgins. We shall celebrate the birth of Jesus also in the Argentinean Pampa.”