Escrivá de Balaguer y Albás, Josemaría, Bl.

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Founder of the Prelature of the Holy Cross and opus dei; b. Jan. 9, 1902, Barbastro, Spain; d. June 26, 1975, Villa Trevere, Rome, Italy.

One of six children of José Escrivá and Dolores Balaguer, Escrivá studied at the School of Law of the University of Saragossa after high school, subsequently receiving the doctorate in law from the University of Madrid (1939). Once his seminary studies were completed in Saragossa, he was ordained on March 28, 1925. Later he received a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Lateran University, Rome. His priestly work began in rural parishes and was continued among university students and people from a wide variety of backgrounds in the slums of Saragossa and Madrid.

On Oct. 2, 1928 he founded opus dei, an association whose object is to spread Christian doctrine and virtues in all environments of social and professional life. It provides a spiritual life style for those who want to follow Christ more closely, but who choose to remain in secular society. In 1946, Msgr. Escrivá de Balaguer moved his residence to Rome and traveled throughout Europe to prepare and consolidate the apostolic work of Opus Dei. Between 1970 and 1975, he carried out an extensive work of preaching and catechetical instruction in practically every country of Latin America and in various European nations. In addition to historical, juridical, and theological writings, he is the author of widely read spiritual books, most of which have been translated into several languages, including The Way (Chicago 1954), Holy Rosary (Chicago 1953), Conversations with Msgr. Escrivá de Balaguer (Shannon 1968), Christ Is Passing By (Chicago 1974), Friends of God (Madrid 1977), and La Abadesa de las Huelgas (Madrid 1944). The Way, first published in 1934 under the title Consideraciones espirituales, by 1999 had sold 4,721,000 copies in 42 languages.

Addressing a crowd of 300,000 faithful gathered on May 17, 1992 in St. Peter's Square for Escrivá's beatification, Pope John Paul II said, "With supernatural intuition, Bl. Josemaría untiringly preached the universal call to holiness and apostolate." Escrivá's body is entombed in the Prelatic Church of Our Lady of Peace at Viale Bruno Buozzi in Rome.

Feast: June 26.

Bibliography: Works by blessed josemarÍa escrivÁ: Children of God: The Life of Spiritual Childhood (Princeton, N.J.1998). Friends of God, Eng. tr. (Princeton, N.J. 1977). Furrow (Princeton, N.J. 1986). The Forge (Princeton, N.J. 1987). The Way of the Cross (Princeton, N.J. 1981). The Way, reprint (Princeton, N.J. 1985). Works about Blessed Josemaría Escrivá: Así le vieron: testimonios sobre monseñor Escrivá de Balaguer, ed. r. serrano (Madrid 1992). j. h. benet, Josemaria Escrivá de Balaguer: un hombre de Dios (Madrid 1992). p. berglar, Opus Dei: Life and Work of its Founder (Princeton, N.J. 1995). s. bernal, Msgr. Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer (New York 1977). a. byrne, Sanctifying Ordinary Work (New York 1975). l. carandell, Vida y milagros de monseñor Escrivá de Balaguer (Barcelona 1992). c. cavalleri, Immersed in God: Blessed Josemaria Escriva (Princeton, N.J. 1996). Estudios sobre Camino: colección de estudios, ed. j. morales (Madrid 1988). f. gondrand, At God's Pace (Princeton, N.J. 1982). Hombre de Dios: testimonios sobre el fundador del Opus Dei (Madrid 1994). f. ocariz braÑa, Canonical Path of Opus Dei (Princeton, N.J. 1994); Vivir como hijos de dios: estudios sobre el Beato Josemaría Escrivá 4th ed. (Pamplona 1999). r. g. pÉrez, Trabajando junto al beato Josemaría (Madrid 1994). La personalidad del Beato Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer (Pamplona 1994). a. del portillo, Immersed in God: Blessed Josemaría Escrivá (Princeton 1996). j. ynfante, Opus Dei: así en la tierra como en el cielo (Barcelona 1996).

[m. m. kennedy]