Renata Borlone: “Sometimes saints pass us close by…”

His Eminence, Mons. Mario Meini bishop of Fiesole spoke with joy and emotion in his opening speech of this event which he said is above all: “The welcoming of a witness, a servant of God, a witness to the word of God….. Hers life was a stimulus and encouragement for the Movement and for the Church. We want to gather from her these testimonies not as treasures to jealously guard but as a witness of service. Sometimes saints pass close by us and we don’t realise.” This was his invitation to those present to rediscover on a daily basis the ‘face’ of holiness through service of neighbour, and civil and ecclesial community.

“The supernatural, brought to everyone” Cardinal Paul Poupard, President Emeritus of the Ponitifcal Council for Culture said this during the solemn Holy Mass, celebrated in the shrine of Maria Theotokos, and animated by Gen Rosso. He recounted was how he remembered his meeting with Renata Borlone, her characteristic was making holiness not a goal for a few, but a vocation possible for every Christian, of which there is tremendous need today.

The president of the Focolare Movement, Maria Voce, was represented by Eli Folonari. Maria Voce is currently in the Holy Land. Eli, recalled with emotion, her first experiences of Focolare life which were with Renata in 1950 in Rome, and that it was Chiara Lubich who personally called Renata to be responsible for the Little town of Loppiano.

This extraordinary day had 2000 participants coming from all over Italy, in spite of the bad weather and snow, plus an unknown number who had followed the event via the internet. 3pm was the most solemn moment, when the process was officially closed marked by the sealing of three boxes containing the documentation which has been gathered in the last seven years by the diocesan tribunal. This documentation will now be sent to Rome and given to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

The ceremony was full of meaning. This was a big occasion to bring back to everyone the importance of allowing oneself to be renewed by the words of the Gospel which are life, and Renata Borlone witnessed to this up to the end, making her exclaim “Death is life!”

The following morning, still at the shrine, there was a special event. Bishop Emeritus of Fiesole, Mons. Luciano Giovannetti, baptised another Renata, this one with the surname Nembrini, the newest baby born in the Little Town of the Focolare: almost an ideal symbolic act of continuity. His wish for all present was to make of “your own heart”  a real shrine guarding the message of the Servant of God.

The day ended with a special gift: the musical “Mary, flower of Humanity” performed by the international group Gen Verde. This presentation helped everyone to contemplate this woman, Mary who has been a fascination over centuries and continues to be so, reflections of her in our own story, restored the image of the Mother of Jesus as an ordinary woman and a friend on the journey.

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