Giorgio La Pira International Student Center in Florence
In 1978, a few months after Professor Giorgio La Pira’s death, the Archbishop of Florence, Card. Giovanni Benelli, acknowledged the loneliness, lack of direction, and actual difficulties than many foreign students living in the city experienced, in particular – as people used to say back then – those coming from developing countries.
Therefore, he decided to establish an International Center dedicated to Giorgio La Pira – former Mayor of Florence and renowned man of peace – in several nice premises in the historical city center. The Center soon became a welcoming place inspired by brotherhood: a place for encounter and dialogue for people coming to Florence from many different parts of the word and who were different because of their customs, culture, or religion. In this action, they were able to recover the virtuous part of Florentine Humanism, striving to experience the city’s Christian Soul by offering a small open door on Europe, as a continent that was ready to give, but also receive and learn from everybody. To animate and manage such a new initiative, Cardinal Benelli turned to Chiara Lubich and the members of the Focolare Movement, who immediately responded with great enthusiasm. Since then, the Center has developed and grown, offering many different training and cultural activities, providing a greatly appreciated social service thanks to the attention it gives to the dignity of the human person. However, the dream that inspires it is still the same: it is the Dream of the Gospel, the ideal of universal brotherhood, the dream of Peace… which has the goal of a United World right in front of it.