Statue of St. Josemaria in a Marseille church

A statue of St. Josemaría was blessed in Marseille on June 18. The statue, the work of a local artist, Louis Taddei, is in a chapel dedicated to our Lady in one of the most important churches in the city, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. The life-sized statue is located at a slight elevation, framed by an arch, facing a bust of Archbishop Belslunce of Marseille, who in 1720, when the entire population was threatened by the plague, consecrated the city to the Sacred Heart.

The idea of dedicating a statue to St. Josemaría arose three years ago, acccording to Virginie Pappalardo, in charge of information for the event. She recalled that a few days before October 6, 2002, the date of the canonization of the Founder of Opus Dei, “thousands of people left the port of Marseille for Rome to take part in the canonization. On seeing the faith of all those people, we realized that Josemaría Escrivá was a saint with widespread devotion in France as well.”

The blessing of the statue took place in the course of a Eucharistic celebration presided over by Cardinal Archbishop Bernard Panfieu of Marseille, together with other celebrants. Among them was the Prelate of Opus Dei, who blessed the statue. About 1400 people took part in the ceremony.

In the homily, the Cardinal spoke of the miraculous catch of fish by the first apostles in the Lake of Tiberias, and recalled the pilgrimages that the Founder of Opus Dei—whom he referred to as an “adventurer in sanctity”—made to the Shrine of Notre Dame de la Garde during his stays in Marseille.

At the end of the ceremony, Bishop Echevarría turned to Msgr. Ellul, the rector of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, to thank him for his reception and for the initiative he had taken in installing the statue of St. Josemaría.

Marseille was the first city to organize (in 1996 in the church of Notre Dame de la Garde) an exposition about the Founder of Opus Dei.

Romana, n. 40, January-June 2005, p. 130-131.

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