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A real passion for making Jesus Christ known

Tags: Apostolate, Madrid, Priesthood, Priestly soul, Pictures and statues of St Josemaria Escriva
St Josemaria recalled that God’s children have to have a “priestly soul”, meaning we have to try and grow our friendship with Jesus Christ and follow his example. We have, he said, to aim to bring other people to God, and turn the whole of our lives into an opportunity to love him. The Mass is where all of that is done most fully and perfectly, which is why St Josemaria used to call it the “centre and root of the interior life”.
This fourth tour of Madrid highlights locations that are especially connected with the priestly soul which, as baptized Christians, we should each foster in our daily lives.


Download the tour with map (pdf format)
Download passages from St Josemaria’s works on apostolate (pdf format)


No. 4 San Justo Street. St Michael’s Basilica:
At no. 4, Calle San Justo stands one of Madrid’s most beautiful churches: the Pontifical Basilica of St Michael.
At no. 4, Calle San Justo stands one of Madrid’s most beautiful churches: the Pontifical Basilica of St Michael.
St Josemaria’s first Masses in Madrid



In this church the Founder of Opus Dei celebrated Mass when he first arrived in Madrid, from April 20 early June, 1927.
On October 17, 1960, St Josemaria once again celebrated Mass in St Michael’s Basilica. On this occasion hundreds of Opus Dei people, plus their family members and friends, were present. St Josemaria could see with his own eyes the abundant fruit of the evangelizing work of Opus Dei faithful in Madrid. When he entered the basilica and saw it packed with people he was deeply moved.
His words reveal his feelings as he began his homily. “Sit down, please... if you have room. I want to say a few words to you in this Madrid church, where I had the joy of celebrating Mass for the first time in Madrid. Our Lord brought me here, with presentiments about our Opus Dei. At that time I couldn’t have dreamed that I would see this church full of souls who love Jesus Christ so much. And I am moved.” Immediately after this his thoughts and words leaped from that Madrid church to the whole world, and he went on to refer to the way Opus Dei had spread to nearly the whole of Western Europe, America, and was beginning its apostolate in Africa and Asia.
October 17, 1960, St Josemaria again celebrated Holy Mass in St Michael’s Basilica for a congregation of hundreds.
October 17, 1960, St Josemaria again celebrated Holy Mass in St Michael’s Basilica for a congregation of hundreds.

St Michael’s Basilica was built in 1739, designed by the Italian architect Giacomo Bonavia. It is the only curved facade with baroque lines in Madrid.
The church is looked after by priests of Opus Dei.

Useful information:
Confessions are available all the time the church is open, until 15 minutes before closing time.
Opening times:
Mondays to Saturdays: 10:15 – 13:00 and 18:00 – 21:00.
Sundays and Feast-days: 9:45 – 13:30 and 18:30 – 21:00.
Mass times:
Weekdays: 10:30, 12:30, and 20:30.
Sundays and Feast-days: 10:30, 11:30, 12:30, 19:00 and 20:30.

During the WYD 2011 there will be an exhibition about St Josemaria in the Crypt.

2. No. 2 San Justo Street. Bishop’s palace. The first three priests of Opus Dei
What did the Father tell you on the day you were ordained?
The Founder of Opus Dei would often come to the Bishop’s palace in the 1930s. It was the dwelling-place of Bishop Leopoldo Eijo y Garay (1878–1963). Bishop Eijo y Garay was Bishop of Madrid for forty years, from 1923 to 1963, and gave Father Josemaria much-needed support and encouragement in the early days of Opus Dei.

Sunday 25 June 1944 was the ordination of the first three faithful of Opus Dei to become priests: Alvaro del Portillo, Jose Maria Hernandez Garnica, and Jose Luis Muzquiz.
Sunday 25 June 1944 was the ordination of the first three faithful of Opus Dei to become priests: Alvaro del Portillo, Jose Maria Hernandez Garnica, and Jose Luis Muzquiz.

In the chapel of the Bishop’s palace there took place the ordination of the first three faithful of Opus Dei to become priests: Álvaro del Portillo, José María Hernández Garnica and José Luis Múzquiz.

Sunday 25 June 1944 was a great celebration. The three ordinands said goodbye to Fr Josemaria in the apartment in Diego de Leon Street and went by car to the Bishop’s palace, where the ceremony was to take place. At 10 o’clock exactly Bishop Leopoldo Eijo y Garay came out and began the ceremony.

In the afternoon they all went to the oratory to pray, guided by St Josemaria’s words. He talked about some phrases from the letters of St Paul which he had noted down ten years earlier, stressing the importance of prayer and sacrifice as the foundation of interior life. “When the youngest of you here are white-haired or completely bald, and I, in the law of nature, have already been dead for a long time, people will ask you, ‘What did the Father tell you the day the first three priests were ordained?’ And you can tell them, ‘He told us to be men of prayer; men of prayer; and men of prayer’.”

3. Nos. 8-10 Bailen Street. Almudena Cathedral: brief history
The story of this cathedral goes back a long way.
The first stone was laid for it in 1663, in the reign of Philip IV, but nothing further was done. Two centuries later, at the end of the nineteenth century, King Alphonsus XII gave the project to the Marquess de Cubas, in the hope that his first wife, Mercedes de Orleans, who had died young, could be buried there. However, the project was left unfinished for half of the twentieth century. In 1950 some walls were built. Finally, on June 15, 1993, Pope John Paul II consecrated the cathedral. Mercedes de Orleans was buried there in November 2000.

This cathedral has a long history. Its first stone was laid in 1663, in the reign of Philip IV. Pope John Paul II consecrated it on June 15, 1993.
This cathedral has a long history. Its first stone was laid in 1663, in the reign of Philip IV. Pope John Paul II consecrated it on June 15, 1993.
Cathedral visit
The suggested visit begins at the entrance door. Walking towards the Main Altar, the visitor passes on the left several confessionals, a chapel with a statue of Christ bound to the Pillar, and a mosaic of the Virgin of the Dove.
Next is the chapel of St Angela of Jesus, foundress of the Company of the Cross. Then is the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, with statues of our Lady, St Vincent de Paul and St Louise de Marillac.
The next chapel is dedicated to St Maravillas of Jesus, a discalced Carmelite nun. Next to it is a chapel sponsored by the Neo-Catechumenal Way, dedicated to the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Before starting on the space around the main altar, the visitor may admire a beautiful picture by Berruguete and his school. The first chapel in the space under the central dome is that of Our Lady of Mystical Life, followed by a chapel with a statue of St Maria Michaela.

In the centre of the space under the dome is the chapel housing the leather-covered wooden casket that contained the remains of St Isidore the Farmer, together with a picture of the Saint and his wife St Mary of the Head. St Isidore, patron saint of Madrid, was born in Madrid in around 1080, to a Mozarabic Christian family. He worked as a well-digger and day-labourer. In Torrelaguna he met and married Mary (later known as St Mary of the Head). When they returned to Madrid, he worked as a labourer under Ivan de Vargas. They had a son, named Illan. Isidore died on September 30, 1172.
The next chapel, now on the right, is dedicated to Blessed Mariana of Jesus, a Discalced Mercedarian.

St Josemaria in Almudena Cathedral
The next chapel is dedicated to St Josemaria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei. The sculptor of the statue and the reliefs was Venancio Blanco. He explained, “I never met the Father myself, but I learnt a lot about him and really got to know him in the course of the project. When I was commissioned to sculpt the statue and reliefs for the chapel dedicated to him in Almudena Cathedral, Madrid, I was very conscious of the difficulty and the responsibility involved.”


Cast in bronze, the statue stands in the centre of the chapel. “I aimed to capture in it the profound values that [St] Josemaria incarnated in his own life, as well as his great humanity and deep spirituality. (…) I wanted to highlight the position of the hands, held out to you as you come in, offering a warm welcome. It is a cordial gesture that invites and encourages you to come to God at the same time. [St] Josemaria understood freedom as the best way to serve God, and it was with freedom that he achieved the goals he set himself.”

The lower relief on the left shows St Josemaria praying on his knees before the statue of our Lady in Cuesta de la Vega. A plaque tells the story. The lower relief on the right shows him attending to a dying man. This was a gypsy who died in Madrid’s General Hospital, after making a wonderful act of contrition, one Sunday in February 1932. “I have learned from a gypsy,” said St Josemaria afterwards, “how to make an act of contrition.”

The Founder wrote in his personal notes on February 16, 1932, that he had been told of a dying man who refused to receive the Sacraments. “I went to see him (…). It was a Gypsy who had been stabbed repeatedly in a fight. Right away he agreed to make his confession. He did not want to let go of my hand, and, not being able to do this himself, he asked me to put it up to his mouth so that he could kiss it. He was in a pitiful condition – excretions were oozing out of his mouth. It was really painful to see him. In a loud voice he swore that he would do no more thieving. He asked me for a crucifix. I didn’t have one, so I gave him a rosary. I wrapped it around his wrist and he kissed it, saying words of profound sorrow for having offended our Lord.”
Later, St Josemaria heard that the man had died in a most edifying way, saying, among other things, as he kissed the crucifix of the rosary, “My lips are putrid, not worthy of kissing you.” The reply was, “But you’re about to give him a big hug and a kiss, in Heaven!”
As he said this, St Josemaria was very moved, thinking, “Lord, what can I say? With this putrid mouth of mine, how can I kiss you?”
“Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer understood freedom as the best way to serve God, and it was with freedom that he achieved the goals he set himself,” said Venancio Blanco, sculptor of the statue.
“Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer understood freedom as the best way to serve God, and it was with freedom that he achieved the goals he set himself,” said Venancio Blanco, sculptor of the statue.

The Holy Family stained-glass window
The stained-glass window shows the Holy Family, with the inscription “ERAT FABRI FILIUS” (He was the son of a workman).
Under the scene with the Holy Family is a globe, evoking St Josemaria’s teachings about sanctifying all human things. In his homily “Passionately Loving the World” he said, “I have been teaching all the time, using words from holy Scripture: the world is not evil, because it comes from the hands of God, because it is his creation, because God looked upon it and saw that it was good.”
The inscription “He was the son of a workman” refers to the years Jesus spent working in Nazareth. St Josemaria pointed out that when we contemplate Jesus working just like any of us, we should realize that our work has a meaning, a divine dimension which we need to discover.

One of the reliefs is of St Gabriel, St Michael and St Raphael, and the other is of St Paul, St Peter and St John.

Next to St Josemaria’s chapel is the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. Beyond this is the chapel of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception of Almudena, the patron of Madrid. Her feast-day is November 9.

The name Almudena
Tradition relates that when the Muslims were on the point of entering Madrid the Christians of the city hid a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary in a wall so that it should not be profaned, and that when King Alphonsus VI reconquered the city, the wall miraculously crumbled, revealing the statue of our Lady.

The name Almudena comes from Almudaina, Arabic for “wheat-store”, because there was one close by.

During the 1930s St Josemaria frequently stopped to kneel and pray before the statue of Our Lady of Almudena, patroness of Madrid, which is located in a niche in the city wall at the end of the Calle Mayor or Main Street.