What is the bond that unites Chiara Lubich to Guglielmo Marconi? What do these two figures of the last century have in common? What places, events, stories unite them? The conference, which was held on 6 April 2019 at the Civic Theatre in Rocca di Papa, presented precisely these questions through a reinterpretation of the life and thought of the two protagonists, a presentation that was able to communicate to those present the inherent strength which underlies the complexity of their existential experience. At the heart of the two figures there is an inherent love for humanity, a readiness to act, the ability to push the boundaries and to overcome all obstacles, the intuitions that enabled them to become prophetic persons of their times.

Marconi (1874-1937) and Lubich (1920-2008) were two figures of the twentieth century who, despite the great diversity in their areas of expertise – the former in the technical and scientific field, and the latter in the religious and spiritual sphere – have made the signs of their own times flourish, connecting peoples and continents, striving in order for humanity to have a peaceful future.

The event was sponsored by the municipalities of Rocca di Papa and La Spezia, by the Amateur Radio Association of Frascati, and by the Marconi Centre. And the historical involvement of these two cities can be compared.

Chiara Lubich, as highlighted by the deputy mayors of Rocca di Papa and La Spezia, respectively Veronica Cimino and Genziana Giacomelli, was awarded the honorary citizenship by the two administrations: Rocca di Papa in 1995 and La Spezia in 2006. Rocca di Papa hosted Marconi’s first experiments, the first insights on radar, while in La Spezia he was the protagonist for the first series of tests in wireless telegraph. Rocca di Papa was chosen in the 1960s by Lubich as the headquarters of the International Centre of the Focolare Movement; it henceforth spread throughout the world.

The conference, moderated by journalist Alessandro Decarolis of Vatican Radio, included speakers from engineering, scientific and communication backgrounds namely Admirals Silvano Benedetti and Liborio Rabita, Engineer Cesare Borin, Dr Maria Rita Cerimele, Dr Sergio Rondinara and Professor Cancellieri of the G. Marconi Experimental Radioelectric Centre in Santa Marinella.

“It was a precious opportunity not only to deepen an important and current topic such as communication,” explained Bruno Fondi, city Councillor and one of the main organizers of the event together with Councillor Lorena Gatta, “but also to learn more about these two historical figures: Lubich and Marconi. They are two personalities who, though living in different periods of time, opened up with their lives new perspectives for humanity, leading to true innovation especially in the field of communication.”

Chiara Lubich received 16 Honoris Causa degrees in her lifetime, the same number as those received by Marconi. Among these was the one in Social Communications awarded to her by the St John University in Bangkok in January 1997. And the prophetic intuition of Chiara was that of taking advantage, already in the 1950s, of every means of communication available through technological development.

The conclusion of the conference was entrusted to Dr Sergio Rondinara, Professor of Epistemology and Cosmology at Sophia University Institute in Loppiano: “Two parallel lives who never met, just like parallel lines. What do they have in common then? Each had an original intuition, such as Marconi’s discovery of magnetic waves and the wireless, which changed the destiny of humanity. Chiara Lubich, instead, discovered the word ‘unity’ in the Gospel, in the prayer that Jesus addressed to the Father: ‘May they all may be one’. Chiara Lubich made this word her own, and taught people of all latitudes that diversity can be seen as a wealth and not as a problem”.

Rondinara continues, “The world of communication changed profoundly thanks to Marconi’s inventions which produced a ‘macro’ change. The world of the inner life has been profoundly changed by the innovations presented by Chiara Lubich, through her spirituality. And this she did at a ‘micro’ level, that present in our interior life.”

Patrizia Mazzola