The event remembering Igino Giordani included testimonies from the Focolare President, from people who knew Giordani and others who, although they never encountered him personally, draw upon the wisdom of this profound and multifaceted figure.
“As I was preparing for this event, I was moved when I recalled one the most beautiful moments of my life. It was in 1978 and I was with a group of girls of my age: we had just finished a Focolare Movement youth congress when we met Igino Giordani in person in the park.” This was the personal recollection with which Margaret Karram, President of the Focolare Movement, began her testimony during the event dedicated to Igino Giordani on 18 April 2021 on the 41st anniversary of his death. She continued, “The other people told us that he was a great personality but for them he was simply ‘Foco’. That’s how he was known by all those who loved him. He was the person who had helped Chiara Lubich in the early years of the Movement thanks to his rich experience in cultural, religious and political fields. Thanks to him, many people had come to know the ideal of unity. Moreover, since he was married, he had opened up the totally new path of consecration to the focolare for married people.“
At that time, Margaret Karram was with a group of girls from the Holy Land and when they introduced themselves to Giordani, they saw his face light up. “The reference to the Holy Land had given him great joy,” she explains. “He had such a radiant smile and such a penetrating gaze that I can still see him. He told us, ‘Remember to be another Mary!'”
“During his studies, Foco had often focused on the events and places where Jesus was born and began to preach. It was as if he had wanted to discover the most intimate aspects regarding the life of the family of Nazareth in order to be able to imitate them.”
Karram recalled that this meeting took place in the grounds of the International Focolare Centre in Rocca di Papa, Rome, Italy where Giordani, a widower, lived in a focolare during the last years of his life. He often sat on a bench in the garden and those who passed by or participated in the international meetings that took place there would greet him and often sit beside him. “We have collected many testimonies of what happened on that bench,” Margaret Karram continued. “Some young people talked about doubts regarding their faith, some parents confided in him about family difficulties, some professionals asked him for advice on how to reconcile their careers with their moral vaues. There were also priests and religious who asked him for help concerning their vocation. Igino listened, understood and then gave wise advice which was often decisive in solving people’s problems.”
After the President’s address during this event dedicated to Giordani, there followed several testimonies from people who as children had sat on that bench and, many years later, still treasure the richness of the conversations with him. These include Margarida Pereira Da Silva, a focolarina living in Portugal, Manoel Araujo, a Brazilian doctor and Stanislao di Piazza, a senator of the Italian Republic.
Peter Kostner, now an artist known in various parts of Europe, also sat next to Giordani when he was a boy. He is the creator of a sculpture placed in the grounds of the Focolare Movement’s Centre that represents Giordani sitting on an empty bench. “If people see the sculpture,” explained Kostner, “they will go and sit next to him. I hope they will want – or even be enticed – to learn about his ideas, his life, the person he was and thus also find inspiration for their own lives.”
As some of the speakers at the event clearly testified, Giordani continues to arouse profound interest in the academic sphere. His experience and prophetic wisdom inspire others in making personal choices and courageous decisions on the path leading towards fraternity and peace in the political, civil and social spheres.
“I’m at the beginning of my political career, so there are a lot of opportunities to do good, but also a lot of doubts when I’m not quite sure what’s right and what’s not,” said František Talíř, young Vice President of the South Bohemian Regional Government in the Czech Republic. “In those moments,” he continued, “I often remember Igino Giordani, I pray and ask him for help.” He referred to a time when he had experienced conflict with a colleague in the government and he asked himself what Igino would have done in his place. “After a few days I invited my colleague for a coffee. And even though our perspectives did not change – he saw the truth one way and I did another – we managed to find a way to move forward. I think it was a small miracle, maybe thanks to Igino Giordani. There will always be situations like this but I believe we’ll manage to change how to do politics.”
Anna Lisa Innocenti