“In about 1954, the idea came, and we took it from God, that love manifests itself in many ways. Just as light breaks into seven colours in the rainbow, so love has many manifestations. For example, love desires to have everything in common: it places spiritual things and sometimes material things in common. Love radiates: this is the apostolate, the spreading of love itself. Love raises up: here love leads to union with God. Love also protects; this is the way we have to view our own health and therefore the whole question of sickness and death. The health of nature too, ecology, is an expression of love. Love is also harmony and so we try to make sure that the places where we live, the houses, the little towns, the apartments, are in harmony and are beautiful because they testify to unity, the highest form of harmony.”
Chiara Lubich moved to Rome in 1948 and after an intense year of meetings and activities, on medical advice, she took a break. In the summer of 1949, she went with some of her companions to Tonadico (Primiero Valley), to a small cottage inherited by one of them. In the following years, an increasing number of men and women of diverse cultures, backgrounds and vocations joined her. In this way a kind of vacation was born that over the years increasingly acquired the semblance of a temporary town in which the Gospel was the law to be lived. Soon this experience, repeated every year until 1959, would take the name Mariapolis, City of Mary.
“In the summer of ’59 we gathered, and in our hearts, during the whole two months, we said to ourselves: this will be the last Mariapolis. It was the Lord making us understand. In 1949 it had been a wonderful, heavenly design; in 1959 this design had become like a model of a new society. When we returned to Rome in ’59, we continually had this vision before us: a city placed on the hilltop so that everyone could see it, a lamp placed in the house so that everyone in the house can look at it. In ’49 the design, in ’59 the model. You cannot live however, in a model: we therefore had to make this model become real.”
After 1959, and for longer or shorter periods, the Mariapolis experience was repeated in different places in the five continents, and in 1964 the first of the present permanent towns was born, at Loppiano, Italy.
In 2006, the “Universitad Catòlica Cecilio Acosta” of Maracaibo (Venezuela), awarded Chiara an honorary doctorate in Art.
The reason given was that “unity is her specific charism, [and that] unity can be translated into the highest level of harmony, the objective and true essence of art in all its forms” .
She also received an honoris causa doctorate in Humanities at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut (USA), motivated by the establishment of “40 centres of formation and 19 ‘Mariapolis,’ model towns that are schools of life and training grounds for unity.”
What was recognised was her contribution to culture with a way of thinking based on practice emerging from a concrete situation, offering:
“A response to today’s humanity, a collective one, which does not suppress the person, but is constructed by each one, giving of themselves, offering themselves freely out of love. And in the love of God among us it begins to answer the dramatic questions of society. Hence, therefore, the first new ideas, the first realizations […]. Thus the spirituality of unity leads humanity to recognize itself as a family, where, living as such in society, enables relationships, organisational methods and laws, begin to be those of the family of the children of God.”