CARF Foundation

12 October, 20


St. Paul VI and St. Josemaría Escrivá

For those of us who work in the School of Theology at the University of Navarre, the canonization of Paul VI is a source of great joy. His memory will always remain alive among us. We cannot forget that our Faculty was erected as such in 1969, during his Pontificate. Such recognition of the task begun a few years earlier with the encouragement of St. Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer is part of the theological impulse that Paul VI wanted to give to the Church in the years following the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council.

In October 1999, I had the opportunity to prepare some words of welcome to the participants in a Study Days on "...".Modern man in search of God, according to the Magisterium of Paul VI"I would like to recall with gratitude some of the testimonies about Paul VI that, for various reasons, are connected with this Faculty of Theology. On that occasion, I wanted to recall with gratitude the memory of some testimonies about Paul VI that for various reasons are related to this Faculty of Theology and are therefore particularly dear to those of us who work here. Today, twenty years later, I think that the canonization by Pope Francis is a good reason to recall them once again.

Before becoming Paul VI: John Baptist Montini

Let us begin with a merely anecdotal but significant detail that refers to the first occasions on which a professor of our Faculty was personally received by Paul VI, although at the time of those meetings, 1943, Professor Orlandis, a professor at the University of Murcia and a young researcher, was not yet a professor at this Faculty, and John Baptist Montini was not yet Paul VI. On one of the occasions when they had arranged to meet, the previous audience took a little longer than usual and the usher in charge of introducing the visitors to Monsignor Montini's office felt it his duty to give conversation to D. José Orlandis to liven up the wait. During the conversation, the opinion that Montini deserved and the image that he presented before his eyes, so accustomed to contemplate him so closely, came up as a confidence," recalls Prof. Orlandis. The definition, said in the popular language of an old Roman, was so funny to me," Orlandis continues, "that I could never forget it.Monsignore è proprio un santo: lavora sempre, quasi non dorme e mangia come un uccelletto!". This definition, somewhat singular in its form, is nonetheless an expressive testimony of the capacity for work and the affection that John Baptist Montini aroused in those who witnessed his daily work..

Years later

On the occasion of another meeting, on January 21, 1945, Professor Orlandis presented Bishop Montini with a copy of The Way, which he had been given as a gift. Saint Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer had made him arrive in Rome a few days earlier. Well, that book would not remain abandoned on the shelves of a library, but would also have its history that we have been able to know many years later.

Paul VI spoke to me about Father with admiration and told me that he was convinced that he had been a saint. He confirmed that he had been reading The Way every day for many years and that it did his soul a great deal of good.

Photograph taken during St. Josemaría's audience with Paul VI on January 24, 1964.

At a hearing

Granted by Paul VI thirty years later, that is, in 1975, shortly after the death of St. Josemaría, he spoke to his successor as head of Opus Dei about that book, which he still carefully preserved. This is how Bishop del Portillo recalled that conversation: "Paul VI spoke to me about Father with admiration and told me that he was convinced that he had been a saint. He confirmed to me that for many years he had been reading The Way every day and that it did great good to his soul" (Álvaro del Portillo, Interview on the Founder of Opus Dei, p. 18).
Paul VI's affection for St. Josemaría was already evident from the time he had the first references to him. and of the apostolic work he was carrying outMontini paid out of his own pocket the expenses for the granting of the appointment of Domestic Prelate of His Holiness, which Blessed Álvaro del Portillo had requested for St. Josemaría Escrivá (Álvaro del Portillo, Interview on the Founder of Opus Dei, p. 18).
John Baptist Montini and Josemaría Escrivá had the opportunity to meet for the first time in 1946 on the occasion of the first trip to Rome of the founder of Opus Dei. Throughout his life, St. Josemaría recalled, and said it repeatedly, that Bishop Montini was the first friendly hand he met on his arrival in Rome, and he always had a cordial affection for him.

January 24, 1964

When Josemaría Escrivá was received in audience by Paul VI, it made a deep impression on him to contemplate in the Holy Father the kindly face he had seen in the Vatican offices on his first trip to Rome. He wrote to him a few days after that interview: "It seemed to me that I was seeing again the kind smile, and hearing again the kind words of encouragement (they were the first I heard in the Vatican) of His Excellency Bishop Montini in 1946: but now it was Peter who smiled, who spoke, who blessed" (Letter 14 Feb. 1964. The text of this letter can be found in A. de Fuenmayor - V. Gómez Iglesias - J. L. Illanes, El itinerario jurídico del Opus Dei, p. 574).

They are simple reminders of recent history that bear witness to the human category

Mr. Francisco Varo Pineda
Research Director
University of Navarra
Faculty of Theology
Professor of Sacred Scripture


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