The Università Popolare Mariana (UPM) was founded and inaugurated by Chiara Lubich on October 15, 1980 in Rocca di Papa (Rome), in the presence of those responsible for the Focolare Movement throughout the world.
Open to all the adult members of the Movement, it offers them a continued faith formation in light of the specific goal of the charism that God gave to Chiara Lubich (1920-2008): to contribute to the fulfillment of the testament of Jesus, “that all may be one” (Jn 17,21), in view of universal brotherhood.
The University offers courses spread over several years that are entrusted to the care of teams of scholars. Because of its popular characteristics, the content of the lectures are kept as simple, universal and accessible to all as possible. Every year of study is concluded with final oral interviews that are lived as moments of communion in line with the spirituality of unity. In fact, both teachers and students strive to keep Jesus in their midst (see Mt 18,20), so that it is Him, through his wisdom, that informs the mind of all.
UPM started during the 1981-1982 academic year with a Theology course that was spread over a six year period; it then went on to a course on Sacred Scriptures; then, from 1991 to 1994, it held in-depth courses in spiritual theology on the reality of God who is Love as expressed in the experience and the thoughts of Chiara Lubich, in the Christian tradition and in modern culture.
In the following years, a 53 lecture course on the Catechism of the Catholic Church was held. It remains the foundation of the formation for the Catholic members of the Focolare Movement.
It was followed by a five year course on the History of the Church and, after the publication of the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in 2005-2006, a follow-up course on that topic.
From 2006-2007 to 2008-2009, a three year course on the content of the Compendium of the social doctrine of the Church was held.
For 2009-2010, 4 lectures on God who is Love are in program; they have been entrusted to qualified scholars in order to develop the theological aspect of this first topic of the spirituality of Chiara Lubich that the whole Work of Mary is committed to meditate and live during that period.
UPM, that has its general Secretariat in Grottaferrata (Rome), is also composed of 172 local secretariats that are scattered throughout the world on five continents. It has an average 11,000 students each year who are offered the same programs of formation in their diverse languages.