On Friday the 14th of March 2008, Chiara Lubich, the founder of Focolare, a Roman Catholic group active in 182 countries, died in Italy at the age of 88. As a sign of Lubich's importance to the church, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state, presided her funeral ceremomy. Lubich died Friday morning. She had been discharged the day before from a hospital in Roime so she could die at her home near the city.
An elementary school teacher, Lubich founded Focolare or "Hearth" during World War II. Some of the first meetings were held in air-raid shelters.Focolare began as a group of women who wanted to serve the poor. As it grew, men were allowed to join and the group's major purpose became working with other religious groups. The group now has 140,000 members and 2 million associates.