Pope Benedict XVI has approved a decree recognizing the heroic virtues of Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, the successor of St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, founder of Opus Dei.
“Bishop Alvaro is remembered by so many men and women as a priest of peace, loyal to his commitment of love to God, very united to the Church and to the Roman Pontiff,” remarked Bishop Javier Echevarria, current prelate of Opus Dei.
“With love and total generosity he learned to serve St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, his brothers – and later his sons and daughters – in Opus Dei, his relatives, friends and colleagues,” the bishop noted.
“With his preaching he helped hundreds of thousands in the different countries he visited to find happiness in fidelity to Jesus Christ.”
Bishop Alvaro del Portillo was born in Madrid on March 11, 1914. He was the third of eight children. As an engineer, doctor in philosophy, liberal arts and canon law, he joined Opus Dei in 1935 and soon became a close collaborator of St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, who founded the prelature.
Ordained a priest in 1944, he moved to Rome in 1946. Between 1947 and 1950 he helped Opus Dei expand in Italy and focused on Christian formation for the laity.
From the pontificate of Pius XII until that of John Paul II, he held various posts at the Holy See. He was an active participant at the Second Vatican Council and was a consultor at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for many years.
After the death of St. Josemaria Escriva, he was elected his successor on September 15, 1975. On November 28, 1982, when John Paul II erected the personal prelature of Opus Dei, he made Father Alvaro del Portillo its prelate and on December 7, 1990, he appointed him bishop.
Bishop del Portillo promoted Opus Dei in twenty countries, and as its leader, he helped it launch numerous social and educational initiatives. He died in Rome on March 23, 1994, just hours after returning from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. After his death, thousands testified to his kindness, warm smile, humility and interior peace.