FRIEND of the Filipinos Don Alvaro del Portillo, the first successor as head of Opus Dei to founder St. Josemaria Escriva, was beatified yesterday at an open-air Mass in Madrid’s Valdebebas Park concelebrated by 18 cardinals, 160 bishops (practically the entire Spanish episcopate) and 300 priests from 34 countries.
Five bishops from the Philippines concelebrated—Msgrs. Paciano Aniceto (Pampanga); Ramon Arguelles (Batangas); Florentino Cinense (Tarlac); Antonio Ledesma (Cagayan de Oro); Jesse Mercado (Alabang-Parañaque).
The main concelebrant and Pope Francis’ delegate to the ceremony was Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Concelebrating with him at the altar were Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco, Archbishop emeritus of Madrid, and Bishop Javier Echevarria, Prelate of Opus Dei.
Pope Francis sent a letter to the Opus Dei prelate which was read before Mass began.
The Holy Father reminded the universal Catholic Church of Blessed Alvaro’s services to the Church and his qualities. (See page 3 for full text of the Pope’s letter.)
The homily of Cardinal Angelo de Amato detailed the new Blessed’s life of virtues, which he said “is the message that Blessed Álvaro del Portillo hands on to us today.”
He was “a shepherd according to the Heart of Christ, a zealous minister of the Church.” He invites us to be holy, living a holiness that is friendly, merciful, good-natured, meek, and humble.
“The Church and the world need the great spectacle of holiness so that its pleasing fragrance can purify the noxious fumes of the many vices which are being praised so arrogantly and insistently.
“Now, more than ever, we need an ecology of holiness, to counteract the pollution of immorality and corruption. The saints invite us to bring to the heart of the Church and society the pure air of God’s grace, which renews the face of the earth.”
Now a healthy and active 11-year-old, Jose Ignacio Ureta, the Chilean boy cured miraculously (after his heart stopped beating for 30 minutes) through the intercession of Blessed Alvaro, together with his parents (Susana and Javier Ureta) brought the relics of the new Blessed to the altar after Cardinal Amato officially declared Don Alvaro as Blessed.
Some 1,300 priests heard confessions and distributed Holy Communion.
About 200,000 attended the ceremony, mostly from Spain. Countries with the biggest contingents were: Mexico (3175); Italy (2140); Philippines (1730) and USA (1520).
Also present were people coming from countries where Opus Dei is not yet present like UAE and Cuba.
Present too were representatives of social projects for the poor and underprivileged the world over inspired by Blessed Alvaro del Portillo.
From the Philippines: Roseanne Gonzalez of Family Cooperation Health Services Foundation (FAMCOHSEF) based in Laguna; Anabel Brown of Development Advocacy for Women Volunteerism (DAWV) based in Pasig; Armand Simeon Millan from Center for Industrial Technology and Enterprise (CITE) based in Cebu.
The linen, vestments and liturgical items used for the ceremony, produced by 600 volunteer workers from all over the world, including cloistered nuns, will be donated to churches undergoing special difficulties in places like Uganda, Iraq and the Philippines where many churches were destroyed in recent typhoons.
The choir is the same one in the World Youth Day in Madrid in 2011. It has increased from 150 to 250 members.
Filipino audiences watched the beatification live from Madrid. at 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on EWTN and IBC-13.
The Mass of Thanksgiving celebrated by the prelate of Opus Dei Bishop Javier Echevarria will take place today, Sunday September 28, also in Valdebebas Park.
The Madrid events will thereafter continue in Rome, the city where Alvaro del Portillo spent the greater part of his life.
From September 29 to 2 October those who go to Rome will be able to visit the St. Eugenio Basilica (10, Belle Arti Street) where the body of the new blessed will be temporarily transferred for the veneration of the faithful.
Program of Events in Madrid and in Rome
Two Masses of Thanksgiving will take place on 30 September at the basilicas of St. John Lateran (11 a.m.) and at St. Mary Major (4.30 p.m.) presided over by Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of His Holiness for the diocese of Rome and by Cardinal Santos Abril respectively.
On Wednesday October 1 those who want to, can take part in the general audience of Pope Francis at the Vatican in order to show their gratitude to him for the gift of the new blessed for the Church.
Finally on Thursday October 2 at 5 p.m. there will be a Eucharistic event at the St. Eugen1o Basilica after which the body of the Blessed Alvaro will be returned to the crypt of the Prelatic Church of Our Lady of Peace on Viale Brunobouzzi.