The Day Before the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima and the Shooting of the John Paul II [5/13/1981]
“Hijas e hijos de mi alma, permitidme que os haga una confidencia: yo no vivo mas que pensando en nuestro Padre – en como serle mas fiel – y en vosotros, en como ayudaros a ser santos.”
[Sons and daughters of my soul, permit me to share a confidence with you: I live only thinking about our father, St. Josemaria – in how to be more faithful – and about you- in how to help you to be saints.]
Death of D. Alvaro, March 23, 1994
Álvaro del Portillo was born in Madrid on March 11, 1914. “On July 7, 1935, while still an engineering student,” Cardinal Ruini recalled in his address, “he asked for admission to Opus Dei. During the tragic events of the Spanish Civil War, he was the person who provided the most assistance to the Founder. On June 25, 1944, he was ordained a priest, one of the first three priests of Opus Dei.”
“In 1946 he moved to Rome, where he carried out various tasks in service of the Holy See,” Cardinal Ruini continued. “He was a Consultor to various dicasteries, as well as Secretary of the Second Vatican Council Commission that drafted the decree Presbyterorum Ordinis. In 1975, after St. Josemaría’s death, he was called to succeed him as head of Opus Dei.”
Don Álvaro died in Rome on March 23, 1994, just after returning from a trip to the Holy Land. John Paul II, who had ordained him as a bishop in 1991, went that afternoon to the chapel of repose in the Prelatic Church of Opus Dei, dedicated to Our Lady of Peace. His body now lies in repose in the crypt of that same church in Rome.
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At 6, 15 p.m. on the afternoon of March 23, 1994, John Paul II arrived at 73 Viale Bruno Buozzi, and descended to the oratory of Our Lady of Peace. Upon entering he said in Italian: “Sia lodato Gesu Cristo!” (Praised by Jesus Christ). All responded the same.
The Pope then knelt down on a predieu with a red stole and remained kneeling in prayer for some ten minutes in the midst of an impressive silence.
He was then invited by the Prelate to pray the response for the dead, but he preferred to intone the Salve and pray three Glory be to the Father’s. He then pronounced the invocations Requiem aeternum dona ei, Domine and Requiescat in pace. He was offered the hyssop and he sprinkled the body of D. Alvaro with holy water. Afterwards, he knelt down and prayed for a short time more. Before leaving the chapel, he blessed all those present.
The Prelate reminded the Pope of the profound love of D. Alvaro for the Church and the Pope for whom he always offered the Mass, and concretely the Mass of yesterday morning that he celebrated in the Cenacle of Jerusalem. Then, he thanked the Holy Father in the name of the Work for his coming to pray. The Pope, in Italian, answered that he considered a duty: “Si doveva, si doveva…
Then the Pope asked the Father what time D. Alvaro had celebrated Mass in the Cenacle. He calculated the number of hours that passed between the last Mass precisely there and the moment of death. The answer was seventeen (17) [perhaps the time between the Last Supper and the Crucifixion].
Notable: Alvaro del Portillo pronounced that the Second Vatican Council “had assimilated and promulgated as common doctrine for all Christians the substantial lines of the charism of Opus Dei.”
 Cfr. Romana et Matriten., Beatificationis et Canonizationis Servi Dei Iosephmaria Escriva de Balaguer, Positio super vita et virtutibus, Summarium, no. 964.