Bishop Rafaello Martinelli of Frascati, Italy, has announced that the beatification cause will be opened for the founder of the Focolare movement, Chiara Lubich.
The ceremony will take place on January 27 at the cathedral in Frascati, where the international headquarters of the movement is located and where Lubich is buried.
Maria Voce, president of the Focolare Movement, celebrated the news and encouraged members to be “living testimony of the collective holiness which Chiara Lubich preached and lived.”
Upon learning of the news of her passing in March 2008, Pope Benedict XVI sent a telegram in which he said, “I have been moved by news of the death of Chiara Lubich, which came at the end of a long and fruitful life marked by her tireless love for the abandoned Jesus.”
“At this moment of painful separation I remain affectionately and spiritually close to her relatives and to the entire Work of Mary — the Focolare Movement that began with her — and to those who appreciated her constant commitment for communion in the Church, for ecumenical dialogue and for fraternity among all peoples,” the Pontiff wrote.
“I thank the Lord for the witness of her life, spent in listening to the needs of modern man in complete faithfulness to the Church and to the Pope,” he said. “And, as I commend her soul to divine goodness that she may be welcomed in the bosom of the Father, I hope that those who knew and met her, admiring the wonders that God achieved through her missionary ardor, may follow her footsteps and keep her charism alive.”
Chiara Lubich was born on January 22, 1920, in Trento and died on March 14, 2008, in Rocca di Papa, surrounded by members of the movement. In the days leading up to her death, numerous people came to pay her homage, from simple workers to important political and religious leaders.
Her funeral was celebrated at St. Paul’s Outside the Walls in Rome and drew a crowd of nearly 40,000.
The Focolare Movement is today present in 182 countries. It claims some 2 million members and focuses on unity, dialogue and relationship.