Opus Dei Founder Josemaría Escrivá Canonized

300,000 on Hand for Event Honoring Spanish Priest

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 6, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II presented sanctity as the vocation of every baptized person when he proclaimed Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer a saint during a Mass that attracted 300,000 people.



The Pope said that the message of the newly canonized Opus Dei founder is to stand up to "a materialist culture that threatens to dissolve the most genuine identity of the disciples of Christ."

The Holy Father pronounced the formula of canonization for the Spanish priest at 10:23 a.m. in St. Peter's Square. Pilgrims who filled the square and adjacent streets responded with an emotional but restrained applause.

After the proclamation, the Pope was given a relic of Monsignor Escrivá. A huge portrait of the new saint surrounded by flowers adorned the principal facade of St. Peter's Basilica.

This year marks the centenary of the birth of Josemaría Escrivá, on Jan. 9, 1902, in Barbastro, northern Spain. He died in Rome on June 26, 1975.

The Pope described the saint's teaching as "timely and urgent," as he always said that a Christian, "by virtue of his baptism, which incorporates him to Christ, is called to embrace an uninterrupted and vital relation with the Lord."

The believe "is called to be holy and to collaborate in the salvation of humanity," the Pope emphasized. Escrivá proclaimed the same message in the years before the Second Vatican Council, when holiness was considered by many to be strictly the concern of priests and men and women religious.

Addressing Opus Dei members, John Paul II asked them to "raise the world to God and transform it from within," following "the ideal that the holy founder indicates to you."

"Following in his footsteps, spread in society, without distinction of race, class, culture or age, the awareness that we are all called to holiness," he said. But the Holy Father recalled the advice of Escrivá: "first, prayer; then, expiation; in the third place, very much in third place, action."

"It is not a paradox but a perennial truth: The fruitfulness of the apostolate is above all in prayer and in an intense and constant sacramental life," the Pope said. "This is, in essence, the secret of holiness and of the authentic success of the saints."

Monsignor Escrivá was proclaimed blessed on May 17, 1992, in a ceremony also held in St. Peter's Square.

Since the institution in 1588 of what is now called the Congregation for Sainthood Causes, until the start of John Paul II's pontificate, there were 296 saints canonized. John Paul II has canonized an additional 468 saints and has proclaimed 1,294 blessed.