Blessed Álvaro del Portillo -also known as Don Álvaro- was a Spanish bishop of the 20th century, much loved and remembered for his affable and spiritual demeanor. He has always been one of the most representative figures of Opus Dei and was the first successor of Saint Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, founder of the Prelature. He was a civil engineer by profession and obtained the degrees of doctor of philosophy and canon law.
He was born in Madrid (Spain) on March 11, 1914 into a very devoted family. He entered Opus Dei in 1935, while he was a student at the School of Civil Engineers in Madrid.
On June 25, 1944, after finishing his civil and ecclesiastical studies, he was ordained a priest in Madrid by the bishop of the diocese, Mons. Eijo y Garay. In that diocese he exercised the priestly ministry until, in 1946, he moved to Rome. There he had the opportunity to continue his studies and got a doctorate in Philosophy and Letters, and in Canon Law.
Álvaro del Portillo became a consultant to various dicasteries of the Roman curia, and participated in the Second Vatican Council, where he was secretary of the commission that drafted the decree Presbyterorum Ordinis, on the ministry and life of priests. Likewise, he maintained a close relationship with several Popes, especially with Saint Paul VI, one of his first friends in Rome.
After the death of Saint Josemaría Escrivá in 1975, he was chosen to succeed him as head of Opus Dei, which he directed for 19 years, until his death.
On November 28, 1982, when the Work (Opus Dei) was erected as a Personal Prelature, the Holy Father John Paul II named him Prelate of Opus Dei. Later, on January 6, 1991, John Paul II conferred episcopal ordination on him.
Álvaro del Portillo died in 1994, after having participated in a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Saint John Paul II, during his funeral, appeared to pray before his mortal remains, in recognition of his service to the people of God.
On July 5, 2013, the miracle granted through the intercession of Don Álvaro was made public. The miracle was the healing of the Chilean baby José Ignacio Ureta Wilson, who with only a few days of life suffered numerous and serious health complications. After a month of life, José Ignacio suffered a cardiac arrest that lasted between 30 and 45 minutes. His parents asked for the intercession of Don Álvaro and the child survived. Currently, José Ignacio has no serious sequelae.
The Prelate of Opus Dei was beatified in Valdebebas (Madrid) by Cardinal Ángelo Amato on September 27, 2014, in a Mass attended by more than 200,000 people from all over the world.
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