Mariapolis Victoria (Man) is the citadel of testimony of the Focolare Movement in Ivory Coast, a reference point for all West African countries. Its history dates back to 1975, when-at the request of the Bishop, Mons. Agré-some focolarini moved there so that the ideal of fraternity that animates the movement could be rooted in the land.
Today the Citadel-one of 3 in the African-continent counts about twenty stable inhabitants -focolarini, priests from several African countries and other continents-and others, including some religious families, and many young people living there temporarily for a few months or for short periods of formation in the spirituality of unity.
At the Mariapolis Victoria people work (there are in fact several crafts, a health centre and a Nutritional Center, a computer center with internet point, timely educational activities for children and teens), but above all they try to give testimony of a life inspired by the values of the Gospel, including the so-called golden rule, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, found in the sacred texts of other religions. An important point, since in these regions, the presence of people of Islam and African traditional religions is very large.
Work activities allow the occupational integration of young people, and lead to greater social self-promotion. An important moment that marked a new stage in the relations between the inhabitants of the Citadel (for most non-Ivorians) and the locals, was the war in 2002-2003. In that time the focolarini who were present at the citadel had every opportunity to leave the country and indeed were invited to do so by civilian and military authorities, preferred to stay to be close to the people and help them concretely: at that time the only doctor and the only nurse in the region were in the Citadel, and started a clinic to treat all the wounded. Inside the Mariapolis Victoria more than 2,000 refugees of all ethnicities and faiths were hosted.
Over the years the local church was increasingly drawn to this model of coexistence and the possibility of this formation in the life of the Gospel that the Citadel offers. There is a parish church, Mary Queen of Africa, at the service of the diocese, and in the center of spirituality run by priests focolarini many priests from different countries and young seminarians come for a period.
You can visit the Mariapolis Victoria even for short periods putting your talents and abilities at the service of others, and thus contributing to the life of the Citadel itself: computer technicians have permitted the installation of the internet when in the region there was not yet Adsl, doctors and nurses can offer their services at the Medical Center, young volunteers can dedicate themselves to maintenance , the reception of visitors. The most important thing is, as in every society, accept and live the laws that regulate it. And those at the Citadel take as a model the teaching of Jesus: “love one another as I have loved you”.