Saint Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer

Saint Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer

The life of Saint Josemaría Escrivá, a priest and the founder of Opus Dei and The Prelature of the Holy Cross, is honored by the Catholic Church on June 26.

He was born on January 9, 1902, into a devout family in Barbastro, Spain. One day when he was little, he spotted bare footprints that a monk had left in the snow. The young boy was greatly inspired by the modest sign to follow a path of holiness that would lead him to become a priest.

During his training for the priesthood in Logroño, he established a prayer life that was centered around the Eucharist and he also acquired a strong devotion to Mary. He would frequently pray to the Blessed Virgin to beg God to disclose his will to him, saying, "The Blessed Virgin has always helped me to discover her Son's desires."

Josemaría was ordained as a priest on March 28, 1925. He served many people in his early ministry, including labourers, students, artists, and children. He also taught law to assist in providing for his mother and sister.

After three years, on a retreat, Josemaría realized that the purpose God had for him was to create Opus Dei, or "the work of God," a new spirituality and career path for lay people. Several unfulfilled spiritual needs of laypeople at the time were answered by this prelature, which would eventually become the main focus of his life.

The fledgling movement gained traction fast, drawing in particular college students. While Josemaría continued with his ministry, the Church faced severe problems due to the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930s. At this time, his movement started to gain traction due to his growing reputation for holiness.

Josemaría relocated to Rome in 1946 in order to get Pope Pius XII to acknowledge his movement, which was accomplished the following year. Josemaría was physically and mentally exhausted from the effort of growing Opus Dei, even as he received blessings and love from the popes that followed. However, it is reported that he never ceased smiling.

Josemaría applauded the convening of the Second Vatican Council by Pope John XXIII. The Council Fathers considered his efforts to widen the path to holiness for lay people as a forerunner to Vatican II's renewed emphasis on the lives of the laity. He moved quickly to incorporate the Council's rulings into Opus Dei worship and daily activities.

During his latter years, Josemaría traversed the globe to evangelize his group, frequently drawing assemblies consisting of thousands of people.

Josemaría passed away from a heart attack at his workroom on June 26, 1975. An icon of Our Lady hanging was the last thing he ever saw. Over 60,000 members of Opus Dei representing more than 80 nationalities were spread throughout all inhabited continents at the time of his death. Pope John Paul II pronounced him Blessed at St. Peter's Square on May 17, 1992. On October 6, 2002, Pope John Paul II canonized him.

Other Saints of the Day
Saint Salvius
Saint Hermogius
Saint Pelagius of Cordova
Saint John of the Goths
Saint Marie Magdalen Fontaine

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