Message for the inauguration of the chapel dedicated to St. Josemaria in Pescia, Italy (May 13, 2004)

In the first place I want to express my deep gratitude and an affectionate and fraternal greeting to Bishop Giovanni De Vivo of Pescia, to your pastor Fr. Alessandro Pasquinelli, to the civil authorities, to the faithful of the parish of Our Lady of the Martyrs, and to all who have wanted to be present at this ceremony. I express my regrets that I have not been able to take part except with my heart.

It is a source of great happiness for me to see the ever more widespread devotion to St. Josemaría in Italy and throughout the world. My joy is even more intense when I see devotion to this saint, at whose side I had the undeserved privilege of working for twenty-five years, so deeply rooted in the land of Tuscany. St. Josemaria truly loved Tuscany and prayed a lot for this region, not only during the brief periods that he spent here, or the many trips that provided him with the opportunity to travel through its provinces, but also because, knowing the deep Christian roots of this land, he desired—or better, he desires—that this land be an auspicious setting for the spread of the message of sanctity that God inspired in him on October 2, 1928—a message directed to all men and women of good will. The fruit of his prayer, and above all of divine grace, were evident in the thousands of Tuscans who on October 6, 2002 took part in the canonization of the Founder of Opus Dei, and before this, in the numerous commemorative gatherings on the centennial of his birth. All this bears witness to a sincere veneration for the “saint of the ordinary,” as John Paul II described him in his audience in St. Peter’s Square.

In particular, the living presence of devotion to St. Josemaría in the parish of Our Lady of the Martyrs in Marginone de Altopascio, with this dedication of a chapel enriched with a beautiful statue by the sculptor Barsanti, is a symbol of how the message of holiness that he spread by means of the Prelature of Opus Dei is attracting men and women of all places and walks of life, awakening in them the desire to be consistent with the demands of their Christian life, striving to give witness to Christ and to serve the Church, of which the Prelature is a small portion. It gives me special pleasure that the parish of Marginone is dedicated to our Lady. St. Josemaría told us never to forget that Mary is, at the same time, Mother of God and our Mother, the Mother of each one of us. He invited us to love her tenderly. He often said that Mary is the easiest and quickest path to reach Christ. And he wrote: “To Jesus we always go, and to him we always return, through Mary” (The Way, no. 495).

I unite myself spiritually to your intentions in this Eucharistic celebration, and especially to your prayers for peace, to which the Holy Father has called the world so insistently in recent times.

Romana, n. 38, January-June 2004, p. 52-53.

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