“Expressing God: Chiara Lubich and the female mystical tradition” is the title of a conference that will take place from 10th-11th November 2023 in Bologna (Italy).

A seminar dedicated to what it means to “express God in a female way” will take place on Friday 10th and Saturday 11th November in the Salone Bolognini  of the San Domenico Convent in Bologna. Its title is, “Expressing God. Chiara Lubich and the female mystical tradition from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century. A journey with many voices”. The organizers are the Theology Faculty of Emilia-Romagna (Fter), the Chiara Lubich Centre and the Sophia University Institute. The seminar aims to offer insights and reflections on the question of mystical language with particular attention to the mysticism of the twentieth century and with an attentive ear to the language of women.

One of the organizers, Father Gianni Festa, a Dominican professor at the Fter, has said that it will be a real journey, “in a page of the history of female mysticism that has not been greatly explored”.

How can language express the intimacy of an experience with God? How did the mystics, starting from the medieval tradition up to the 1900s, ensure that words could preserve such an experience and recount it to the world?

These are all questions that will be examined in the context of this seminar starting from historical, literary and linguistic analyses that testify, as Father Festa told us, “that to express God in a female way means to express Him in a different way and that is why it is absolutely necessary to understand the feminine language which expresses God and which tells of mystical experience”.

The speakers of the seminar will explore this theme, starting from the twentieth-century figure of Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare Movement. Father Festa said, “The experience of Lubich will be connected on a diachronic level to important figures of the medieval mystical tradition such as doctors of the Church like Catherine of Siena and Teresa of Avila, but above all to other experiences and mystical writings of the twentieth century, some of which are well known, such as those of Etty Hillesum and Madeleine Delbrêl while others are less so, such as Sister Maria, the great mystical friend of Don Primo Mazzolari. The question of mystical language and the theology underlying female mysticism will be explored and the individual paths of this experience will be identified”.

For more information, contact the FTER secretariat or consult the Chiara Lubich Centre website. To participate in the event, you can register for the two days in the specific “Events” section on the FTER website.

Maria Grazia Berretta


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