The History of Primiero

The oldest historical documents in which the Valle di Primiero is mentioned date back to shortly after the beginning of the eleventh century; from these documents it is clear that the area was subject to the rule of the parish of Feltre. It is believed, however, that the earliest settlements in the valley date back at least a further six centuries.
In fact, the restoration of the Chiesa Arcipretale (deanery church) in Fiera brought to light the foundations of earlier churches, the oldest of which dates back to around the V-VI centuries. Its size was only slightly smaller than the present-day church, attesting to the fact that a stable and relatively sizeable community was already settled in the valley at the time.
After a series of historical events and changes of power, in 1373 Primiero came under Tyrol-Habsburg rule. On 22 March 1401, Duke Leopold, Count of Tyrol, granted the Valle di Primiero in perpetual feudal tenure to Giorgio Welsperg, from Val Pusteria, for 4000 gold florins. Under Welsperg rule, the mining activities of the valley developed with the extraction of metals such as silver, iron and copper, using skilled workers of German origin. In the XV century, Primiero became one of the most important and productive mining centres of the House of Austria. In that period, the town of Fiera expanded due to its role as a leading trading hub and developed a bilingual culture. During the historic events of the Napoleonic era, the valley came under Bavarian rule and was later re-annexed to the Austrian empire.
After the Congress of Vienna, the valley was annexed to Trentino and then passed definitely to Italy with the end of the First World War. The special autonomy granted to the Trentino - Alto Adige region was sanctioned with the Gruber - De Gasperi agreement after the Second World War and, since 1972, the region has been divided into the two autonomous provinces of Trento and Bolzano.


Chiara Lubich (1920-2008), founder in 1943 of the Focolare Movement (Work of Mary), is considered one of the most important spiritual personalities of the twentieth century.A Catholic, she was engaged in the forefront of ecclesial communion, in ecumenism and in interreligious dialogue including with people of non-religious convictionsShe was awarded 15 doctorates h.c. in various disciplines and different honours by national and international bodies, as well as honorary citizenships in major Italian cities and in Buenos Aires; she was also a tireless promoter of a culture of unity and brotherhood among peoples.



On 16 July 1949, at this church, Chiara and Igino Giordani, MEP, deputy, journalist and prominent writer, formed a pact of unity that they entrusted to Jesus the Eucharist. After finishing Mass, Chiara returned to church:"I had the impression that the Lord was opening, to the eyes of the soul, the Kingdom of God that was among us". It is the beginning of that mystical experience later called "Paradise '49".

The church in which morning Mass and the evening function of the participants in Mariapoli took place, an authentic temporary citadel with a common law: the mutual love between participants resulting in a fraternity rich in material, spiritual, and cultural communion. On 22 August 1959, in this church, over a thousand mariapoliti representing the 27 nations present devoted their peoples to Mary with a prayer in 9 languages, including Chinese: it was a commitment to be united not only between individuals, but between peoples, to love the homeland of others as their own. And behind the altar, at the same time, some members also consecrated the policy. The Mariapoli would multiply, in time spreading throughout the world.

To accommodate the ever increasing number of mariapoliti there were numerous families of Primiero who offered their homes with genuine hospitality.Bed bases and mattresses were divided and shared. In the house of the Turra, at Col, in the summers of '57 and '59, Chiara was accommodated with some of her companions: a coming and going of people, including personalities such as Father Lombardi and several Bishops, made it in fact the heart of the Mariapoli. Chiara understood that permanent Mariapoli could be born. On 22 September 1956, in fact, with Mariapoli concluded, she wrote an article for the newspaper Città Nuova in which she anticipated the reality of future citadels of the Movement. Today, there are 22 citadels in 19 countries, generally developed, and with their own characteristics.

Hall of Sunday meetings of the Mariapoli in the second half of the 1950s, a place in which to  deepen one's spirituality, where people and groups of different backgrounds met, and communicated testimonies, also through songs and comedies. From year to year the Mariapoli of Primiero became more numerous, numbering 12,000 presences in the summer of 1959.

A destination for short walks, it offers a magnificent panorama of the valley: the darting rays of light of the Sun the moment it had set seemed to Chiara a symbol of the Verb as "the splendour of the Father". In those rays, the path that each person is called to follow, coming ever closer to the others while approaching God.

Inherited by Lia Brunet, one of them, Chiara and some companions arrived at this hut in the summer of '49: a small refuge, a kitchenette, a ladder leading to the attic, where corn and beans were being dried, and where the visitors laid out modest beds. It was the cohabitation, founded on mutual love in a time of particular illuminations, that resulted in the name of "Baita Paradise"

Chiara came here every day with the focolarine for meditation in the afternoon. In her meditations and profoundly listening to what God may have wanted to suggest to her, she welcomed - not without wonder - particular insights on many realities of faith, realities that she would immediately communicate to her companions.

Upon a summit next to the wild Pala della Madonna, in Val Canali, above the Treviso Refuge, in the Group of the Pale of San Martino, in 1959, two mountaineers of Tonadico, Michele Gadenz and Tullio Bonat, assigned the name of Campanile Mariapoli, to seal their love for the valley for their guests who arrived from all over the world.

The peace of the meadow and of the Welsperg lake, next to the historic villa in Val Canali,  are one of the destinations of the mariapoliti trips. Seeing the peaks reflected there, Chiara, lover of philosophy, reinterpreted Plato and his myth of the cave on "ideas" of things and on their "reality".

At Boaletti, next to the first hydroelectric plant of Primiero, was built a small chapel called Madonna della Luce.The hikes into nature inspired in Chiara  a page of high spirituality, which she would subsequently call "Maria, flower of humanity".

In the rare splendour of the Dolomites, today declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the Pale di San Martino offer a unique scenery of pointed peaks and incredible rock cathedrals.And Baita Segantini is one of the best observation points there. During the Mariapoli, nature was for Chiara a great inspiration: "…I had the impression of perceiving the presence of God in all things".
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