Mariapolis Ginetta celebrated its golden jubilee on August 15. The dream of its pioneers is now reality: it is a beacon of unity, dialogue and a new society for all.

Since its genesis, the Catholic Church has sought in various ways to live out Jesus’ mandate in his priestly prayer, “Father, may they be one, as we are one” (Jn 17–21). Unity and dialogue are, even today, the basis of many ecclesial activities and thought.

It was during World War II, in the city of Trent, Italy, that 21-year-old Chiara Lubich realized she wanted to live and spread unity among all peoples of the world, believers and non-believers alike. In Brazil, through Mariapolis Ginetta, this mission has been fruitful for 50 years now.

City on the hill

In founding the Focolare Movement, and taking a cue from her own experiences, Chiara thought it would be good to give rise to cities placed on the hill – visible and luminous, true beacons for society, where people could live the Gospel, in communion and mutual love, and experiencing the constant presence of God.

Around the world today, there are 35 permanent Mariapolises, little towns started by the Focolare. Three in Brazil: Mariapolis Santa Maria near Recife, Mariapolis Gloria near Belem, and Mariapolis Ginetta, in the state of São Paulo at Vargem Grande Paulista, which on the Feast of the Assumption, August 15, celebrated its golden jubilee.

Mariapolis Ginetta

Fruit of God’s providence, and witness to much activity, the Mariapolis has been a place of spiritual and social gatherings for thousands of people all over the world. Inhabited by families, consecrated lay people, priests, and people of other religious denominations, this flagship little city is a space where each visitor can experience God.

Karina Gonçalves Sobral, who lives with her husband and two daughters in the community, stresses the importance of the spirituality of unity and the values contained in the local culture.

“The Mariapolis has as its mission to be a gathering place, an open house open for everyone. And it is truly for everyone. Those who come here feel welcomed. It is part of our charism, welcoming.”

“Looking at various pieces of land that were proposed 50 years ago, this one in Vargem Grande really seemed to have the right characteristics to be a fruitful space where we could visibly embody the ideal of unity,” says Maria do Socorro Pimentel, a focolarina who has lived in the little city for more than 40 years.

“We settled here, and today we celebrate an important milestone.”

The founder’s presence

Chiara Lubich visited the Mariapolis Ginetta several times, and it was on one of her trips, in 1991, when she came face to face with the great social inequality of the Brazilian population. She was particularly inspired, and it was here that she created the Economy of Communion, whose main goal is to develop a network of businesses that share their profits, contrasting the culture of having with the culture of giving.

The Mariapolis is named after one of Chiara Lubich’s earliest friends, Servant of God Ginetta Calliari, one of the greatest supporters of building this “city on the hill” who started the Focolare Movement in Brazil. Her body is buried in the cemetery there, where many faithful go to ask for graces.


Starting in May 2022, the city of Vargem Grande Paulista recognized the social and spiritual work carried out by the Focolare Movement there and the importance not only of Mariapolis Ginetta, but all the work that supports children, adolescents and young people. Not to be forgotten is the work of establishing shelters for the homeless and a communication system, which has attracted investment, partnerships and lifted the profile of the municipality.

For the mass celebrated on August 15, by Don João Bosco, Bishop of Osasco, Pope Francis sent an apostolic blessing, written in gratitude for this mission carried out by the Focolare Movement in the city, the state of São Paulo and throughout Brazil.

Ronnaldh Oliveira

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