A chapel dedicated to St Josemaría in Tuscany, Italy
June 7, 2004
Following nearly two months of preparation including meetings, testimonies, film showings and more, all helping to spread devotion to Saint Josemaría, a chapel dedicated to this Saint was inaugurated in a solemn ceremony in the Church of Santa Maria ad Martyres (Our Lady and the Martyrs) in Marginone, Lucca Province, Italy on 13 May 2004.
For the occasion, the sculptor Emanuele Barsanti de Piertrasanta crafted a bronze statue of Saint Josemaría inspired by one in the shrine of Torreciudad, Spain. A relic ex ossibus of the saint, who was canonized on 6 October by Pope John Paul II, was placed on the statue.
The ceremony began with Mass, celebrated by His Eminence Justo Mullor Garcia, Apostolic Nuncio and president of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, together with Fr Alessandro Pasquinelli, the parish priest, who promoted the project; Fr Robin Weatherill, Chaplain of the Accademia dei Ponti, Florence; and other priests. The church and church square outside were not large enough to hold all the faithful and pilgrims from the surrounding area: Lucca, Viareggio, Pistoia, Prato and Glorencia.
In the homily Msgr Mullor recalled his own dealings with Saint Josemaría, calling him a man of God. He talked about the Saint’s message on the sanctification of ordinary daily realities, referring to the many different occupations represented at the ceremony – mostly agricultural workers, but also home-makers, carabiniere in their gala uniforms, students, and many others.
Fr Robin Weatherill read the message sent for the occasion by Bishop Javier Echevarria, Prelate of Opus Dei, in which he expressed his regrets at being unable to attend. Bishop Echevarria said how happy he was at the spreading of devotion to Saint Josemaría. He underlined Saint Josemaría’s love for Tuscany, a region in which he had travelled several times. “The fruits of his prayer,” wrote the Prelate, “and above all of God’s grace, are very clear: the thousands of people from Tuscany who took part in the canonization of the founder of Opus Dei on 6 October 2002, and before that in the many commemorative events around the centenary of his birth, witness to a sincere veneration for the ‘Saint of the ordinary’, as Pope John Paul II described him in the audience in Saint Peter’s Square. (…) In addition, the dedication of the chapel, embellished with the statue by Barsanti, is a sign of how the message of holiness which Saint Josemaría propagated through the Opus Dei Prelature, attracts women and men from any place and any walk of life, reawakens in them the desire to live up to the demands of Christian life, to witness to Christ, and to serve the Church, of which the Prelature is a small part.”
At the end of Mass Msgr Mullor blessed the statue, which before being placed in the chapel was carried in procession through the streets of the town, which were lit up and decorated with flowers for the occasion. The procession was followed by hundreds of people, together with a band and choir led by Mr Egisto Cortesi.