Thousands Attend Masses in Rome to Celebrate Life of Blessed Alvaro del Portillo

Relics of Former Opus Dei Prelate Venerated at Basilica of San Eugenio

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Two Masses of thanksgiving were celebrated Tuesday in the basilicas of St. John Lateran and St. Mary Major, respectively presided by Cardinals Agostino Vallini (Vicar General of the Holy Father for the diocese of Rome) and Santos Abril y Castello (Archpriest of the Liberian Basilica).

Both basilicas were crowded with the faithful from many countries; some of them had to follow the Mass from the outside.

Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, the first Prelate of the personal prelature Opus Dei, was beatified in Madrid on Saturday.

During his homily in Saint John Lateran, Cardinal Vallini emphasized that «Blessed Álvaro teaches us that God does not abandon us».

Cardinal Vallini recalled how «Blessed Alvaro del Portillo always lived with the certainty that God never abandons us. He always searches for his children, especially those who are most lost. The newly beatified had tremendous confidence in God, so much so that St. Josemaría had the same confidence to choose Álvaro del Portillo as his confessor. This does not always happen. Blessed Alvaro was always trying to discover the will of God, striving his whole life to correspond to God’s will.  In this way, he lived a holiness that everyone can live, a holiness that became a natural part of his everyday life.”

For his part, Cardinal Santos Abril recalled that Blessed  Álvaro «knew how to embody the goodness of God» and «the Christian message announced in deed and in truth, echoing the beauty of the teachings of Vatican II.» Teachings that «were constantly in his preaching and in his pastoral work: especially the universal call to holiness, the irreplaceable role of the laity and their freedom, as well as the vocation and mission of priests,» he said.

The cardinal said: «His life can best be characterized by a real zeal to bring the light and warmth of Christ to all souls.» He continued, «With his teachings, prayer, and example he urged his sons and daughters to work in many environments, looking for occasions to present the figure of Jesus to the people at their sides […] and encouraged many Christians to be consistent with their vocation to be lights of the world, living lights of the Lord.” In addition, Santos Abril said that Blessed Alvaro «affirmed the call of John Paul II to carry out the new evangelization in the countries that had obscured the message of joy and mercy of our Lord.

The cardinal stated: «Blessed Alvaro del Portillo was a real collaborator with the truth.” He stated, «In an age that exalts the value of freedom, he did not fail to remember that the truth makes men free, and specifically, the truth of the dignity of the sons and daughters of God.» Alongside his untiring service to the truth, «in his pastoral ministry,  was a sower of peace and joy. Many witnesses recall the serene look of Blessed Alvaro, who conveyed a deep filial relationship with God the Father and communicated the peace of someone who knows that he is a beloved son.»

“In the life of Blessed Álvaro we contemplate a spirit of overflowing love,» he said, «an operative charity that led him to consistently follow the founder of Opus Dei in a silent way» but «with loving fidelity”.                                    

Veneration of the relics of Blessed Álvaro

From Monday evening and until October 2, Romans and Catholics who have come to Rome from other countries may go to the Basilica of San Eugenio (Viale delle Belle Arti 10). The remains of the new Blessed have been temporarily placed there to facilitate the number of  which have been provisionally placed the remains the new Blessed, to facilitate the flow of worshipers.

At six in the evening of September 29, the coffin with the remains of Blessed Alvaro were moved from the crypt of the Prelatic Church Our Lady of Peace, where they usually rest, to the nearby Basilica of St. Eugene’s. Faithful from around the world welcomed Blessed Alvaro, who was carried in procession to the front altar. As his remains entered the Church, there was a long applause. After a liturgy of the Word, the prelate of Opus Dei said a few words to the audience.

“I think,” Bishop Javier Echevarría said, “that all of us would have liked to carry the casket as a way of saying thank you to Blessed Álvaro for his life of dedication and service to the Church, his  interest in each one of us, and for the love he showed to God on a daily basis.»

The Bishop said that «we have before us the remains of a man, a priest, and a friend who knew how to leave everything in God’s hands. He lived in a way that was always quiet and joyful. He was a great communicator of peace. Let us sincerely ask him: help us to be witnesses of the love God has for us. «

After the homily, Msgr. Echevarría blessed the faithful in attendance with a relic of the new Blessed. Then many faithful approached the urn that holds the coffin with his remains in it.  They placed on the urn the following items: pictures, rosaries, photographs, papers with requests, etc.

Since Monday night, there have been Eucharistic celebrations near the remains of Alvaro del Portillo.

According to Mara Celani, spokesman for events for the beatification in Rome, on Monday afternoon 20,000 people went through the basillica.

Exposition in the courtyard of Saint Eugene’s                            

During these days people can also visit the exhibition organized by the NGO-Africa Harambee on Blessed Alvaro del Portillo. In addition to the life of Don Alvaro, the exhibition showcases the projects will benefit from the collections made during the beatification ceremony.

There are three projects relating to the care for women and children that started at the behest of Mons. Del Portillo in Nigeria, Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Directors have also created a scholarship fund for African priests studying in Rome (

As Rosalinda Corbi, coordinator of the international activity of Harambee, explains, «it seemed necessary to share the gift of this beatification with people who need it most, and we wanted to carry it out in a way that would have pleased the newly blessed. From his youth, he devoted so much time to the sick and needy”.

Source: Opus Dei

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