1st Focolare Cofounder Dies

ROCCA DI PAPA, Italy, APRIL 2, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Chiara Lubich’s first companion in founding the Focolare Movement died Tuesday, just two weeks after Lubich herself was laid to rest.

Natalia Dallapiccola, 83, was “the first to follow [Chiara]” in death, just as she had done in life, a note from Focolare reported.

The Focolare movement highlighted the key role Dallapiccola had had in spreading their charism of unity in the countries of Eastern Europe. Lubich sent her to West Berlin in 1959 to start the movement there. Three years later she was sent to eastern Germany with the first group of Focolare doctors, requested there by the local bishop faced with the fleeing of medical professionals to the west.

Dallapiccola also established contacts in Poland, then Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Lithuania.

Though her health was already waning by 1976, she opened within Focolare the mission of interreligious dialogue, building relationships with Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist leaders.

“Chiara had called Natalia ‘Anzolon,’ angel, in the Tridentine dialect, because of the ever living love in her for everyone,” the Focolare statement noted.