Founded Amid World War II
VATICAN CITY, 4 SEPT. 2006 (ZENIT)
Here is the description of the Work
of Mary which appears in the Directory of International Associations of
the Faithful, published by the Pontifical Council for the Laity.
* * *
Official name: Work of Mary
Also known as: Focolare Movement
History: At the beginning of the 1940s, in the climate of hatred and
violence of the Second World War, Chiara Lubich
young elementary schoolteacher in Trent, her native city, whose thirst
for truth had led her to enroll at the Philosophy Faculty of Venice
— discovered God is the only ideal which endures when everything
else is falling down.
With her first companions, in the shelters during air raids, she only
took the Gospels with her. She was to write later that "those words
seemed to be enlightened with a new light."
God is love. In the commandment to love one another, they discovered the
heart of the Gospel; in the testament of Jesus "that they all may be
one," they found the divine plan for universal unity and the purpose of
their life; in the crucified Jesus who called out that his Father had
abandoned him, they found the secret for the building of unity
From their experience of the Gospel lived in daily life, a specific
communitarian spirituality emerged, which gave rise to the Focolare
In 1948, Lubich met Igino Giordani, member of Parliament, a writer,
journalist and pioneer of ecumenism. Recognized as the co-founder thanks
to the contribution that he made to the embodiment of the spirituality
of unity in the social environment, he was to be the first married
Father Pasquale Foresi is also recognized as co-founder, and is the
first Focolarino priest, who made a major contribution to the
introduction of theological studies into the movement, founding the
Città Nuova publishing house and the Cittadella at Loppiano.
On June 29, 1990, the Pontifical Council for the Laity decreed
recognition of the Work of Mary (the Focolare Movement) as an
international association of the faithful of pontifical right.
Identity: The Work of Mary was given this name because of its particular
link with the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Christ and of all men
and women, of whom it wishes to be a reflection on earth, as far as
The Marian nature of the movement is institutionally expressed in terms
of its presidency, which is lay and female. The variety of people that
belong to it, its worldwide spread, its purposes and the works that it
undertakes, all to a certain extent reflect the universality of the
Its specific feature is the pursuit of the ideal of unity which gives it
its spirit, its aims, its structure and its government.
This is why it is committed to working for ever greater unity between
the faithful of the Catholic Church; to establish communion and a common
testimony with other Christian brothers and sisters in order to restore
full unity; to achieve, through dialogue and common activities together
with people of other religions, union in God among all believers, as the
way of enabling them to come to know Christ; to engage in dialogue with
people of good will and to work together with them for common purposes,
to strengthen universal brotherhood throughout the whole world and to
open up their hearts to Christ.
Organization: The movement is governed by the General Assembly, and the
Centro dell'Opera, comprising the president, co-president and vicar, and
the general councilors.
The movement is divided into zones, with their own management bodies
which answer to the Centro dell'Opera.
At the heart of the Focolare Movement are "focolare centers" for men and
women who live life in common or married life.
An integral part of the Movement are the branches for diocesan priests
and deacons, volunteers, and gens (children and young people), and gen's
(young men with a vocation to the priesthood), religious, and bishops
who are friends of the movement, and also the following movements
(branches working in many different ecclesial and civil fields): New
Families, New Humanity, Young People for a United World, Youths for
Unity, the Parish Movement.
Membership: The Work of Mary has 140,440 members worldwide. The centers
of common life ("Focolare") are present in 89 countries as follows:
Africa (17), Asia (14), Europe (31), Middle East (6), North America (8),
Oceania (3) and South America (10).
There are about 4.5 million other people who are involved more broadly
in the movement, including 47,000 from other churches; 30,000 co-workers
and sympathizers belonging to other faiths, and 70,000 co-workers and
sympathizers without religious convictions.
Works: The Work of Mary has established a large number of Mariapolis
Centers, which are places for spiritual and social formation and
ecumenical and interfaith meetings; Cittadelle, which are places where
members of the movement can stay and socialize, with training schools,
craft activities and farms; and nongovernmental organizations for
international cooperation, such as AMU and New Humanity.
There are also publishing houses; audiovisual centers; international
musical groups; artistic production centers; the "Economy of Communion"
project implemented in the management of 761 companies; a residential
middle school and higher secondary school in Cameroon; social schools
for education in ecumenical and interfaith dialogue; courses for family
mediators; and vocational training schools.
Publications: Città Nuova, published fortnightly (in 25 languages, 40
Nuova Umanità, a cultural journal published every two months, with
synopsis translated into five languages
Gen's, a journal for priests and seminarians published every two months
in five languages
Unità e Carismi, published every two months for religious in seven
Gen2, a monthly magazine for young people in six languages
Gen3, a magazine published every two months for teen-agers in eight
Gen4, a magazine published every two months for children in seven
Parola di Vita (commentary on words of Scripture), published monthly in
80 languages and 16 local dialects
Economia di Comunione, published twice a year in six editions and six
Web site: www.focolare.org
Movimento dei Focolari
Via di Frascati, 306
00040 Rocca di Papa (Roma)
Telephone (39) 06-947-989
© Copyright 2006
Libreria Editrice Vaticana [adapted]