On 17th September 1948, Chiara Lubich met Igino Giordani, whom she later called Foco, for the first time, in Rome, Italy. She was a Franciscan tertiary and was accompanied by some religious from the various Franciscan families. Giordani was 54 years old and already successful in the political and cultural fields when he met 28-year-old Chiara Lubich and recognised her charism. Giordani immediately joined the Focolare and, because of his contribution to the development of the Movement, Chiara Lubich considered him a co-founder. Here is the story of that meeting from Giordani’s diary.
“Seeing a Conventual, a Friar Minor, a Capuchin and a man and a woman from the Third Order of Saint Francis united and in agreement, seemed to me already a miracle of unity, and I said so. The young lady spoke; (…) and at the first words I felt something new. There was an unusual quality in that voice: the quality of a deep and sure conviction born of a life in touch with God. (…) When, after half an hour, she had finished speaking, I was caught up in an enchanted atmosphere, as if in a cloud of light and happiness; and I would have liked that voice to continue. It was the voice that, without realising it, I had been waiting for.
It put holiness within reach of all; it removed the barriers that separate the lay world from the mystical life. It brought out the treasures of a castle to which only a few were admitted. It brought God closer: it made him feel like a Father, a brother, a friend, close to humanity.(…)
Something happened within me. It happened that my juxtaposed pieces of culture began to move and become animated, joining together to form a living body, nourished by a generous blood: the blood with which Saint Catherine burned? Love had entered and taken hold of my ideas, drawing them into an orbit of joy. What had happened was that the idea of God had given way to the love of God, the ideal image to the living God. In Chiara I had found not someone who spoke of God, but someone who spoke with God: a daughter who, in love, conversed with the Father.
(…) Everything was illuminated. Pain took on a salvific meaning, or was resolved into love. Life appeared as an adorable design of God’s will and every moment of it became full and had its own beauty. Nature and history unfolded in rich patterns of harmony and wisdom.
And to live this new life, to be born in God, I did not have to renounce my doctrines: I only had to place them in the flame of charity, so that they might be enlivened. Through my neighbour, I began to live God. Grace flowed freely, the barriers between supernature and nature collapsed. Existence became a whole adventure, consciously lived in union with the Creator, who is life”.
(Igino Giordani, Memorie di un cristiano ingenuo, [Memoirs of a naïve Christian] Rome, 1984, pp. 147-154).