May 18th. Beatification Day, Vistalegre Arena, Madrid

Madrid hosted the beatification of the Spanish chemist and researcher Guadalupe Ortiz de Landázuri (1916-1975), who, among many other accomplishments, brought the message of Opus Dei to Mexico. In a letter sent for the beatification, Pope Francis held her up as an example of “the holiness of ‘normality.’”

The Holy Father’s delegate was Cardinal Angelo Becciu, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints. Concelebrating with him were the Cardinal Archbishop of Madrid, Carlos Osoro, the Prelate of Opus Dei, Msgr. Fernando Ocáriz, as well as six cardinals, nine archbishops, sixteen bishops and some 150 priests.

Pope Francis said he wanted to “unite myself to your joy and thanksgiving” for the beatification of Guadalupe Ortiz de Landázuri through the letter published above, which was read by the auxiliary vicar of the Prelature, Msgr. Mariano Fazio, at the end of the ceremony.

The new Blessed, we read in the Pope’s letter, “placed her many human and spiritual qualities at the service of others, helping in a particular way other women and families in need of education and development.” The Pontiff emphasized that Guadalupe did this “with her prayer and example,” “with the joy that came from knowing she was a daughter of God, as she had learned from Saint Josemaría himself.”

Msgr. Fernando Ocáriz, after thanking God for the beatification of Guadalupe, asked Cardinal Becciu to convey to the Roman Pontiff his gratitude and that of the entire Prelature of Opus Dei. “Tell him that we are grateful for the message that he sent us and that we listened to today; that we express our filial affection and pray for his pastoral ministry as the successor of Peter.”

The Prelate entrusted to Blessed Guadalupe’s intercession the resolution of all the faithful of the Work “to always be good children of the Church; and that the Prelature of Opus Dei, as St. Josemaría wanted, might always serve the Church as the Church wants to be served. With God’s grace, the motherly mediation of our Lady, and the example of the new Blessed, may we discover each day that our ordinary life is the place where Christ awaits us and an opportunity to share the joy of the Gospel with others.”

Cardinal Becciu stressed the Blessed’s ability to teach us “that it is possible to harmonize prayer and action, contemplation and work.” Furthermore, “her life also teaches us that the ability to listen and to always be cheerful even in the most painful situations is something beautiful and attractive.”

“Guadalupe,” continued the cardinal, “is presented before our eyes as a model of the Christian woman, always faithful to where God’s plan wants her to be, especially in the social sphere and in scientific research. In short, Guadalupe was a gift for the whole Church and is a valuable example to follow.”

At 9 am on Saturday, the Palacio Vistalegre Arena opened its doors. There were greetings, reunions and selfies, with participants coming from distant and exotic places such as Nigeria, New Zealand, Singapore, India and Japan, with some dressed in regional attire.

Over 11,000 people from 60 nationalities filled the Vistalegre Arenda in Madrid to take part in the beatification, and many more followed it virtually through television or streaming, from their homes or in the screenings organized in different cities around the world. It was a very digital and international beatification.

Among those present were relatives of the new Blessed. Luis Cruz, a great-nephew of hers and a university chaplain in Madrid, said that his aunt “was a woman who knew how to share in God’s vision of the world to see the good in whatever happened to her and the good in each person.” He emphasized that “she had a joyful smile for everyone and one enjoyed being with her.”

The three sons of Antonio Sedano, who was cured of a carcinoma through Guadalupe’s intercession, were also in attendance. They were “very grateful and excited to be there. She continues helping us in many small things,” they said. The first ophthalmologist who treated their father, Dr. José Ramón Fontenla, also was there. He said that “being in Vistalegre today is a great joy and an opportunity to ask the Blessed for new favors.”

Faithful prayed in the chapel installed for the occasion, while penitents waited in the area of confessionals to go to confession; liturgical items lined the sacristy, most of them coming from the beatification ceremony of Alvaro del Portillo, which also took place in Madrid. The sacred linens for the ceremony were prepared by volunteers in Spain, Switzerland and Lebanon. The Perdiguera wine came from the Agrarian Family School (EFA) Molino de Viento, an educational initiative in Campo de Criptana (Ciudad Real, Spain). The roses were a gift from Uruguay.

As the celebrants entered, the choir intoned Il Signore terra tutta, by Italian composer Marco Frisina. The singers form part of the professional choir “Grupo Alborada,” under the direction of the baritone Gonzalo Burgos.

Almost 200 concelebrants processed towards the altar. After the initial rites, the central moment of the ceremony took place. After hearing the words of petition by the Prelate, and a biographical sketch of the future Blessed, Cardinal Becciu read the apostolic letter with the solemn formula of beatification: “We grant that the Venerable Servant of God Guadalupe Ortiz de Landázuri and Fernández de Heredia, lay faithful of the Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei, who dedicated her life generously to the Lord, joyfully serving her brothers and sisters in the carrying out of her daily tasks, may from this hour be called Blessed.”

Following these words, the image of the Blessed was unveiled while the hymn Christus Vincit sounded forth amid strong applause. From that moment, Guadalupe can be venerated throughout the Prelature of Opus Dei and the diocese of Madrid. Her feast day will be celebrated on May 18, a day she appreciated for being the anniversary of her First Communion.

The relics of the new Blessed were brought to the altar by relatives of Guadalupe and members of Antonio Sedano’s family.

The time for the Liturgy of the Word arrived. During the homily, Cardinal Becciu reflected upon the biography of the new Blessed and stressed that “she teaches us how beautiful and attractive it is to have the ability to listen and be cheerful even in the most painful situations.” “Her heart was always open to the needs of others, reaching out with welcome and understanding.”

“We find ourselves,” he added, “before a woman whose life has been enlightened simply by being faithful to the Gospel. Multi-faceted and insightful, she was a light for those who knew he.”

At the end of the Mass, the Archbishop of Madrid, Cardinal Osoro, spoke about the new Blessed. Referring to the 25th anniversary of the consecration of the Almudena Cathedral by Saint John Paul II, the Cardinal declared that “among these graces from heaven that we are receiving from our Lady is God’s gift of the beatification of Guadalupe Ortiz de Landázuri.”

Osoro described the new Blessed as “one of us.” Born in Madrid, baptized in the parish of St. Ildefonso, she discovered God’s call in the church of the Immaculate Conception and is buried on the Gran Via in the Royal Oratory of the Knight of Grace.

“All this,” he said, “reminds us how our Lady guided the steps of the new Blessed and sustained her on the path to holiness with abundant graces in and throughout her life. Saint Josemaría Escrivá used to say to his children, especially to the first people in the Work like Blessed Guadalupe, that if they wanted them to imitate him in anything, it should be in love for freedom and in love and devotion to Mary Most Holy. We entrust ourselves to the new Blessed to help us to be faithful like her, living God’s will joyfully, and to teach us to trust like her in the intercession of our Lady.”

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#FestGol: a Festive Gathering to Celebrate the New Blessed (May 18, 2019)

In the evening, at 7 pm, the Vistalegre Arena became a huge living room. Many of those who had attended the beatification of Guadalupe met with the Prelate of Opus Dei in a friendly and festive gathering.

At the beginning, Monsignor Ocaríz spoke briefly about Guadalupe, of her joy and the need to thank God. He encouraged those present to understand what had happened in the morning as a call: “Holiness is not a utopia. It is within everyone’s reach, with God’s grace.”

The presenters of the event introduced Luis Cruz, a priest and great-nephew of Guadalupe Ortiz de Landázuri. He recalled the new Blessed’s “unforgettable smile,” her joyful relationship with God, her drive and wide horizons, her capacity for friendship. At least that is how she is remembered in his own family. He said that all of Guadalupe’s relatives are living these days with a special joy.

“Guadalupe,” said Luis, “was a woman with many friends whom she cared for. She encouraged you to dream and to fill your heart with dreams. It was her way of reflecting God’s life within her.” Luis then asked the Prelate about the connection between friendship and “being apostles,” to which Monsignor Ocáriz responded: “Authentic friendship is true apostolate; it’s an expression of our desire for the others’ good.”

Anjelica, from Nigeria, recalled Guadalupe’s concern for social development. She praised the Harambee Foundation’s initiative to finance one hundred scholarships for African women scientists in the next ten years in honor of the beatification. And then she asked the Prelate how those with ample financial resources can keep very much in mind those who do not have them. He encouraged those present to live temperately, to flee from the superfluous. This detachment enables us to think less about ourselves and more about our neighbor, a concern shown in specific deeds.

At a certain point, Vistalegre connected with Mexico. Through a video conference call, people in Mexico reminded the Father that in 2020 it will be the 50th anniversary of Saint Josemaría’s visit to Mexico and his novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe. “No pressure, but it is the golden anniversary, in case you want to come and see us.”

Another intervention is by Teresa, 20 years old. She is from San Sebastian and is studying for a degree in gastronomy at the Basque Culinary Center, since she has decided to dedicate her life to serving others as a numerary assistant. She is giving clear example to the importance of work in the home, and is moved by Guadalupe’s joyful and consistent life.

Msgr. Ocáriz stressed the importance of freedom and love in giving direction to each person’s life. Love “isn’t a feeling, but a free decision of the will, which is sometimes accompanied by feelings.” A spontaneous dialogue opened up between the Prelate and Teresa: “Form yourself, study, have clear ideas, and strengthen your freedom.”

Next, another Teresa spoke, standing next to her husband, Iñigo. They have been married for 21 years and have seven children. Two of their children have disablities and their youngest one, Josemaría, has Down’s syndrome and leukemia. Josemaría is the protagonist in an Instagram account (@ponundownentuvida -- “put a down in your life”) with more than 25,000 followers.

Msgr. Ocáriz looked at them with admiration, and thanked them for their example, integrity, and eagerness to take advantage of a cross to sow joy. He told them, “We don’t like suffering, but as Christians, we see an opportunity to unite ourselves to the Cross of Christ.” And he added, “You can suffer. You can cry. But you can’t be sad. Our faith in God, who wants us to be happy, tells us that this attitude is absurd.”

Ana, who lives in Madrid, is the last to speak. When she read the letters of Guadalupe to St. Josemaría, she was captivated by her naturalness, enthusiasm, courage and happiness. She said she wants to always have that in her own life, and to transmit it authentically to future generations.

At the end, the Prelate said that “the joy we feel now has to be kept alive. There are always reasons to be joyful, despite the difficulties. God wants us to be happy.”

Romana, n. 68, January-June 2019, p. 20-24.

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