VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 1, 2005 (Zenit.org).- A statue of St. Josemaría Escrivá, founder of the Opus Dei, has been placed in the exterior of St. Peter’s Basilica.
The marble statue, some 5 meters high, is in a niche on the facade of the basilica’s left transept, also called St. Joseph’s arm, close to the entrance to the sacristy. It was placed there Tuesday.
The niches in this part of the basilica were designated by Pope John Paul II for sculptures of saints and founders of our time.
St. Josemaría’s statue is placed near others of the same size, among which is that of St. Gregory, founder of the Armenian Church; Carmelite St. Teresa of the Andes; and St. Marcelino Champagnat, founder of the Marist Brothers.
St. Josemaría’s image is the work of Italian sculptor Romano Cosci, who worked for more than a year on the block of marble.
In 2002, Cosci made another sculpture for the Vatican basilica’s facade: that of Spanish St. Josefa of the Heart of Jesus, which is at the entrance of the Vatican grottoes. There are more than 150 sculptures of saints in the Vatican, including those of the colonnade.
In executing the statue of St. Josemaría, Cosci was inspired by Jesus’ words in the Gospel, often meditated on by the Opus Dei founder: “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself” (John 12:32).
Cosci’s artwork represents St. Josemaría wearing the priestly ornaments to celebrate Mass, with his arms slightly open.
In the lower part of the statue are sculpted the papal coats of arms of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. At the saint’s feet are two angels — Opus Dei was founded on the feast of the Guardian Angels. One of the angels presents St. Josemaría with an open book, with the above-mentioned verse.
Josemaría Escrivá, who lived from 1902 to 1975, was canonized in 2002.