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Article: June 26 + Saint Josemaria Escriva

June 26 + Saint Josemaria Escriva - VENXARA®

June 26 + Saint Josemaria Escriva

An estimated 300,000 people filled St. Peter’s Square on October 6, 2002, for the canonization of Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, the founder of Opus Dei. His canonization came only 27 years after his death, one of the shortest waiting periods in Church history.

Opus Dei, which means Work of God, is an organization of laypeople and priests dedicated to the teaching that everyone is called to holiness by God and that ordinary life can result in sanctity. In his homily, Pope John Paul II emphasized the importance of every believer to follow God’s will, as had the newly sainted founder of Opus Dei. “The Lord has a plan for each one of us. Saints cannot even conceive of themselves outside of God’s plan: They live only to fulfill it.” Escriva taught that "joy has its roots in the form of a cross," and that "suffering is the touchstone of love," convictions which were represented in his own life.

Born in Barbastro, Spain, Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer sensed early in life that he had a vocation to the priesthood. Following his ordination in 1925, he briefly ministered in a rural parish. He moved to Madrid, where he obtained a doctorate in law. At the same time Father Escriva was beginning to envision a movement that would offer ordinary people help in seeking holiness through their everyday activities. It was officially founded in 1928.

As Opus Dei grew, Father Escriva continued his studies and his priestly work among the poor and sick. During the Civil War in Spain he had to exercise his ministry secretly and move from place to place. Only after the war did he return to Madrid and complete his doctoral studies. He later moved to Rome and obtained a doctorate in theology. Pope Pius XII named him an honorary prelate and a consultor to two Vatican congregations. All the while, Opus Dei grew in size and influence.

When Escriva was very young, he already had the habit of carrying a rosary in his pocket. As a priest, he would end his homilies and his personal prayer with a conversation with the Blessed Virgin. He instructed that all rooms in the offices of Opus Dei should have an image of the Virgin. He encouraged his spiritual children to greet these images when they entered a room. He encouraged a Marian apostolate, preaching that "To Jesus we go and to Him we return through Mary." While looking at a picture of the Virgin of Guadalupe giving a rose to St. Juan Diego, he commented: "I would like to die that way." On June 26, 1975, after entering his work room, which had a painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe, he slumped on the floor and died.

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