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Visit by St Josemaria to Pope Paul VI

Tags: Pope, Pope Paul VI
The Pope was distraught at the deterioration, deviation and anarchy. Monsignor Escriva believed it was time for him to visit the Holy Father and offer him what consolation he could. On the 25th of June 1973, he went to see him, in a private audience which lasted for an hour and a quarter, well beyond the time set by Vatican protocol.

As soon as Monsignor Escriva came into the Pope’s presence he dropped to his knees on the marble floor. Paul VI reached out and raised him. When both were seated, Monsignor Escriva took out his pocket diary, in which he had made some notes of what he wanted to say to the Pope. He had encouraging news about the perseverance of thousands of men and women in the Work, and about the apostolates thriving in so many countries and areas of social life. As for vocations to the priesthood, that year like every year since 1944, a new batch of laymen, each with a two doctorates, civil and ecclesiastical, were to be ordained.

He had not come to ask the Pope for anything, he only wanted to cheer him up. And once more, the Pope, in the heart of Rome, knew and felt that there was “a little part of the Church” on which he could rely, to find firm support.

From The Man of Villa Tevere, Pilar Urbano, pp. 327-328

The Father [Msgr. Josemaria Escriva] spoke to Pope Paul about very supernatural matters, and brought him up to date on the development of the Work and on the God-given fruits it was bearing throughout the world. The Holy Father was very pleased with what he heard. From time to time he would interrupt with some words of praise or simply to exclaim, “You are a saint!” I know about this because I couldn’t help noticing afterwards that the Father had a very pensive, almost a sad look on his face. I asked him why. At first he refused to answer me. Then he told me what Pope Paul had said to him, and he said that he had been overcome with same and grief for his own sins, so much so that he had made a filial protest to the Pope: “No, no! You do not know me, Your Holiness – I am just a poor sinner.” But Pope Paul had insisted, “No, no – you are a saint.” At this the founder, full of emotion, had replied, “On this earth there is only one saint – the Holy Father!” (There is a play on words here in Italian between “saint” (santo) and “Holy Father” (Santo Padre).)

“In a private audience on 25 June 1973, our Father informed Pope Paul VI about the good progress of the Special General Congress [of Opus Dei]. The Pope listened gladly to the news and encouraged our Founder to continue pressing forward towards the definitive canonical solution of the institutional question of the Work” (Alvaro del Portillo, letter dated 28 November 1982, quoted in Rendere amabile la verità, F. Ocariz et al. (eds), pp. 73-4).