Saint Josemaría in Banneux, Belgium (September 5, 2020)

On Saturday, September 5, Bishop Jean-Pierre Delville of Liege blessed a monument in honor of Saint Josemaría in the park of the Shrine of Our Lady of the Poor in Banneux. Eight apparitions of our Lady took place in the Shrine of Our Lady of the Poor in 1933, approved by the Holy See in 1949.

More than 200 people were present at the blessing ceremony, including Rev. Etienne Montero, regional vicar of the Prelature for Belgium and Luxembourg, Rev. Eric de Beukelaer, vicar general of the Diocese of Liège, as well as the rector of the shrine, Rev. Leo Palm.

The ceremony was the result of the initiative of a group of people from the Liege region. Roger Braem, president of the Promotion Committee, opened the ceremony with words of welcome, saying he was “especially grateful for the influence that Saint Josemaría has had on the lives of many of us through his preaching and the example of his holy life.”

Rev. Etienne Montero, after thanking the Promotion Committee, reminded people of Saint Josemaría’s visits to shrine dedicated to our Lady in many countries of the world. The regional vicar also said that Saint Josemaría never wanted people to imiate him except in one point: “If I want you to imitate me in anything, it is in my love for our Lady,” he said. He also mentioned the times spent by the founder of Opus Dei in Belgium in the 1950s.

After the readings, Bishop Delville gave a homily on the Gospel passage of the miraculous catch of fish. He began by recalling Saint Josemaría’s words: “We have come to say, with the humility born of knowing ourselves to be sinners and of little worth – homo peccator sum (Lk 5:8), we say with Peter – but with the faith born of letting ourselves be led by God’s hand, that sanctity is not just for the privileged few. God calls all of us, he expects Love from us all; from everyone, wherever we may be; from everyone, in whatever situation, profession or job” (Letter March 24, 1930, no. 2).

The Bishop of Liege stressed that Peter’s profession became an apostolic mission: “This is also our apostolate today: to bring to the path of sanctity people from all backgrounds and walks of life.” Recalling Saint Josemaría’s commitment to the poor and the sick at the beginning of his priestly activity in Madrid, and his deep devotion to Mary, Bishop Delville said that “he deserves to be here in Banneux, in this shrine of Our Lady of the Poor, where witnesses to holiness from all nations are gathered together, in response to our Lady’s words: This fountain is reserved for all nations!

Bishop Delville then blessed the monument, a heptagonal column 2.30 meters high and 1 meter in diameter, with a bas-relief of Saint Josemaría and inscriptions in Latin, French, Dutch, German and English. Included there is a brief presentation of the saint’s life, and words from one of his homilies: “Heaven and earth seem to merge, my sons and daughters, on the horizon. But where they really meet is in your hearts, when you sanctify your everyday lives.” Also found there is an aspiration he often prayed: “Omnes cum Petro, ad Iesum, per Mariam” (“All with Peter, to Jesus, through Mary”).

Romana, n. 70, January-December 2020, p. 101-102.

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