CHIARA LUBICH, the founder of the Focolare Movement in Italy, has been awarded the Templeton Foundation Prize for Progress in Religion, it was announced in London this week.
In awarding her the £50,000 annual prize, the foundation said Chiara Lubich had been helping people of many denominations to grow spiritually by emphasising 'Love one another as I have loved you'. Her contribution to promoting unity among Christians was one of the outstanding achievements in interChurch and inter-Faith relations today.
Chiara Lubich has led many people to believe that a life based on love is not an illusion, and has inspired them to create real communities and serve others in a spirit of simple generosity.
The Focolare Movement has enjoyed an extraordinary impact on youth all over the world. Almost every year congresses in different countries have attracted an average of 50,000 young people.
She was instrumental in founding a hospital, schools and factories in the Cameroons, and work among the very poor in the slums of Manila and Recife.
Born in Trent, Italy, in 1920, Chiara Lubich later became a teacher in the surrounding villages. After university she became a leader of Catholic Action and of the Franciscan Third Order.
In 1944 she opened the first women's Focolare in Trent and was granted diocesan approval in 1947. Since then the movement has spread to all continents.
The ceremony of presenting the prize will be held in London's Guildhall on Wednesday, April 6. The prize, which was inaugurated in 1972 to call attention to a variety of people who have found new ways to increase man's love of God or man's understanding of God, was first awarded in 1973 to Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
Subsequent recipients were Brother Roger of Taize in 1974; Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, former President of India, in 1975; and Cardinal Suenens, Archbishop of MalinesBrussels, in 1976.