Following his visit to Nomadelfia, Pope Francis made his way to another community built on universal brotherhood – Loppiano.
It's the international citadel of the Focolare Movement, founded by Chiara Lubich in the mid-20th century. Upon his arrival, the pope made his way to the Shrine of Mary Theotokos for a short prayer in front of an image painted by a Hindu. It's symbolic because the gesture exemplifies the universal brotherhood promoted by the Focolare Movement.
After, Pope Francis met with thousands of Focolares. The president of the movement greeted the Holy Father in the name of everyone and reminded that this citadel was founded by Chiara Lubich to share the spirituality of communion and brotherhood.
President, Focolare Movement
“Holy Father, we have a high goal, we want to 'aim high,' as you asked us four years ago. We'd like to be able to say to everyone, 'Come and see.' Mutual love as the law of coexistence means living the joy of the Gospel and feeling like part of a new page of history.”
Pope Francis intently listened to questions from some of the inhabitants. They told him, for example, that they renew daily their commitment to living commandment of love: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” They also asked him how to maintain this spirituality in the face of modern challenges.
“In the relationships within the community, one must also always be sincere, open, frank, fearless and not lazy or hypocritical. No, open. Not turning away to sow discord and muttering, but rather making an effort to live as sincere and brave disciples for love and the truth. And then another word, 'hypomone,' which we can translate as 'understanding, supporting, staying and learning to experience difficult situations presented by life.'”
The pope recalled that Chiara Lubich felt the impulse to found places like Loppiano upon seeing an abbey with its church, library and fields in which God and the Eucharist were at the heart of each day. She saw a modern way of starting a “new city” in the spirit of the Gospel.
“A family in which everyone sees themselves as sons and daughters of the only Father, committed to living among one another and with everyone the commandment of mutual love. Not to remain separated from the world, but rather to go out, to encounter, to take care of, to fill their hands with the leaven of the Gospel in society, especially where it's most needed, where the joy of the Gospel is awaited and summoned: in poverty, in suffering, in trials, in investigation, in doubt.”
Pope Francis reminded them that sowing unity is not sowing “uniformity.” He also urged them to build this place with tenacity, serenity, optimism, imagination and humor, which is the human behavior most similar to the grace of God.
After his address, Pope Francis was presented with gifts from community members. This boy gave the Holy Father an autographed soccer ball and even a rubix cube... also, these Buddhist monks were overcome with joy as they gave him a garment and book.
Before heading out into the crowd, the pope signed a pact ensuring that Loppiano would always be a place of brotherhood.
Later, Pope Francis made sure to greet the elderly and disabled. He couldn't forget the little ones, either, and this little boy shared a special moment with the pope.
To the sound of uplifting music sung by a diverse cast, the Holy Father boarded a helicopter bound for the Vatican, concluding his short but intense visit.