On the 7th of December 1943, the young teacher, Silvia Lubich, would never have imagined that a few decades later four popes would have spoken quite striking words about her and her spiritual family.

She didn’t have any idea what she would live and see during the 88 years of her life. She didn’t have any idea that millions of people would follow her. She didn’t imagine that she and her friends would reach 182 nations.

Could she ever have thought that she would inaugurate a new season of communion in the Church and that she would open channels of ecumenical dialogue that had never before been used? Much less could she have imagined that her spiritual family would welcome in the faithful of other religions and people without any religious reference. Quite the contrary: She never thought of starting a movement.

On that 7th December 1943, Chiara Lubich had only the sentiments of a beautiful young woman in love with her God with whom she was entering into a marriage pact, sealing it with three red carnations. That was all she wanted. Could she have imagined the crowds of people of all ages, race, and background who would follow her on her trips around the world and address her simply as “Chiara”? Could she ever have imagined in her small little Trent that her mystical intuitions would create a culture of unity for a multi-ethnic, multi-racial, and multi-religious society? Chiara Lubich was a pioneer for her time. In the Church – a lay woman – she proposed themes and openings that were only later taken up by Vatican II. In a global society she pointed the way to universal brotherhood when no one was speaking of civilizations drawing closer to each other. She respected life and searched for the meaning of suffering. She traced out a way of religious and civil holiness that can be practiced by anyone and not reserved for only a chosen few.

In 1977, at the Eucharistic Congress in Pescara, she stated: “The pen doesn’t know what it must write, the brush doesn’t know what it must paint, and the chisel doesn’t know what it must sculpt. When God takes someone into his hands in order to raise a new work in his Church, the person chosen doesn’t know what she should do. She’s just the instrument. And I think that this might be the case with me.”

The Focolare Movement began with Chiara Lubich. She was born on 22 January 1920 in Trent, Italy. She died on 14 March 2008 in Rocca di Papa, Italy, surrounded by her people.