During World War II, while bombs were destroying Trent, Lubich, then in her early twenties, against a background of hatred and violence, made the discovery of God who is Love, the only ideal that no bomb could destroy. It was a powerful experience, 'stronger than the bombs that were falling on Trent' which Lubich immediately communicated to her closest friends. Their lives changed radically. They declared that, should they be killed, they wished to have only one inscription carved on their tomb: "And we have believed in love"
Her discovery of "God is Love" (cf. 1 John 4:16), led her, on 7 December 1943, alone in a small chapel, to promise herself to God forever and to change her name to Chiara, in honour of the Saint from Assisi. This date is considered the beginning of the Focolare movement.
These Focolare (small communities of lay volunteers) seek to contribute to peace and to achieve the evangelical unity of all people in every social environment. The goal became a world living in unity, and its spirituality has helped dismantle centuries-old prejudices.
Today its members and adherents are Catholic, Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Baha’I as well as thousands of people of no particular religion.
In her life the day of 13 May 1944 remains the night of one of the most violent bombings of Trent. Lubich's house was among the many buildings destroyed. She decided to stay in Trent to help the new lives being born. She encountered a woman who had lost her senses through the suffering caused by the death of her four children. It was among the poor of Trent that which Lubich often calls the "divine adventure" began.
In 1954 Lubich met, in Vigo di Fassa (near Trent), with escapees from the forced labour camps in Eastern Europe and after 1960 the spirituality of unity and the Movement began to take shape clandestinely in those countries. In Europe many of the wounds caused by the Second World War remained. In 1959, at the Mariapolis (summer gathering of the Movement) in the Dolomite Mountains, Lubich addressed a group of politicians inviting them to go beyond the boundaries of their respective nations and to "love the nation of the other as you love your own". Internationalism became a hallmark of the Movement which rapidly spread, firstly in Italy, and afterwards, since 1952, throughout Europe, and since 1959 to other continents. "Little towns" began to be born from 1965 on, with the birth of the first in Loppiano, together with international congresses, and the use of the media contribute to the formation of people who live for the ideal of a "united world".Lubich founded the New Families Movement in 1967.
In the 1960s young people started protesting in large numbers throughout much of the world. From 1966 Lubich proposed to the youth to live according to the radical message of the Gospel as an answer to the profound desire for change claimed by young people everywhere. The Gen Movement was thus born (Gen standing for New Generation) which animates the wider "Young People for a United World".
In 1996 Lubich was awarded the UNESCO Prize for education to peace, in Paris, motivated by the fact that, "in an age when ethnic and religious differences too often lead to violent conflict, the spread of the Focolare Movement has also contributed to a constructive dialogue between persons, generations, social classes and peoples."
Lubich was the first Christian, the first lay person, and the first woman to be invited to communicate her spiritual experience to a group of 800 Buddhist monks and nuns in Thailand (January 1997), to 3,000 Black Muslims in the Mosque of Harlem in New York City (May 1997), and to the Jewish community in Buenos Aires (April 1998).
In 1977, Lubich received the Templeton Prize for progress in religion and peace. The presence of many representatives of other religions at the ceremony brought about the beginning of the Movement's inter-religious dialogue.
In 1996, she was also conferred the UNESCO Peace Education Prize.
In May 1997 she visited the United Nations, where she made a speech regarding the unity of peoples in the "Glass Palace”. In September 1998 in Strasbourg she was presented with the 1998 Prize for Human Rights by the Council of Europe, for her work "in defence of individual and social rights".
She received honorary degrees in various disciplines: from theology to philosophy, from economics to human and religious sciences, from social science to social communications. These were conferred not only by Catholic universities, but also by lay universities, in Poland, the Philippines, Taiwan, the United States, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina.
Chiara Lubich was honoured with a Doctorate of Divinity (Honoris Causa) from Liverpool Hope University. She thanked the University and provide her hopes for the future: "My most sincere thanks to all at Liverpool Hope University for this doctorate of Divinity in recognition of the Focolare Movement's work in ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue".
Chiara Lubich died in Rocca di Papa in her native Italy, aged 88, on 14 March 2008.