Saint Josemaria Escriva (1902 – 1975)
This morning (Sunday 6 October 2002) in Rome, Pope John II will canonise Blessed Josemaría Escrivá, the founder of Opus Dei. Some 900 Irish people will be present.
Later this month, on Friday 25 October at 8pm, Cardinal Desmond Connell will preside at a Mass to mark the canonisation in the parish church of St Thérèse, Mount Merrion, Co. Dublin, where those who wish may receive a blessing with a relic of the new saint. Similar Masses will take place on Monday 14 October at 8pm in St Brigid’s Church on the Malone Road in Belfast with Bishop Donal McKeown, and on Saturday 26 October at 2pm in the Cathedral, Tuam, with Archbishop Michael Neary.
Saint Josemaría was born in Spain in 1902. At the age of 15, he saw the bare footprints of a Carmelite in the snow and began to feel that God wanted him to do something special. On 2 October 1928, as he did a retreat, he realised that he was to show that holiness is for everyone, to show the world that God seeks us all in the ordinary work of each day.
He began among the sick and destitute in Madrid in the 1930s, asking them to pray for a very important intention. The Spanish Civil War and World War II made the beginnings difficult, but he drew people around him and showed them that God is a father to everyone and that if we offer our work, joys and sorrows to God we have brought a whole new meaning to our lives. Once, when chatting to a young student about his faith, he gave him a book on which he wrote: ‘may you seek Christ, may you find Christ, may you love Christ’. This became his message for everyone.
By 1950, the Pope had approved his work and it had begun to spread, as it still continues to, and by 1965 the Second Vatican Council had reflected his message on the vocation of lay people and the role of everyday life in seeking God. Pope Paul VI remarked that he had taken a hard option: making Christ present, through lay people, in the worlds of work, entertainment and family. In 1959 he visited Ireland, visiting Dublin, Galway and Cashel.
He was beatified in 1992, and last December the Pope confirmed another miracle granted through his intercession, which opened the way for his canonisation. This miracle concerned Dr Manuel Nevado, a Spanish surgeon, who was suffering from cancerous chronic radiodermatitis on his hands and had to give up work. The condition was incurable and his doctors said it could require the amputation of his hands to prevent further spread. After praying to Blessed Josemaría Escrivá for two weeks, Dr Nevado found that the wounds on his hands had disappeared and he was able to go back to work. “Scientifically inexplicable,” was how the medical experts described the cure.
A newsletter about Saint Josemaría Escrivá is available free of charge from the Opus Dei Information Office, 10 Hume Street, Dublin 2.