New research on the history of Opus Dei
June 25, 2010
The fourth number of Studia et Documenta (2010), a journal written mainly in Spanish and Italian about the history of Opus Dei and its founder St Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, has just come out. The theme of one section of this issue is educational initiatives set up by Opus Dei, in different places and circumstances.
Students in the Zurbarán hall of residence, April 1957
Mercedes Montero discusses the beginnings of the first hall of residence for women students inspired by St Josemaria, which was Zurbaran in Madrid. Constantino Anchel surveys the documentation relating to Opus Dei’s first corporate work of apostolate, the DYA residence in Madrid. And Ramon Pomar studies another institution which has had a significant impact on the history of Opus Dei, serving as inspiration for many similar projects all over the world: Gaztelueta School in Bilbao.
The project described by Jose Manuel Cerda also has something of a pioneering spirit, though in a different sense. Warrane College, in Sydney, was Opus Dei’s first apostolic work in Australia, and it immediately found itself at the heart of the 1970s storm of student protests. As Maria Carla Giammarco writes in her introduction to the themed section, “waves of opposition to Christian apostolic initiatives are recurrent and almost ritual, but the protests in Sydney, with their assaults, barricades and home-made missiles, have the spectacular attractiveness of a good Western.”
Early days in Gaztelueta school, 1951
The section of Studies and Notes contains two articles about the relationship between Saint Josemaria and notable ecclesiastical figures. The first deals with the correspondence between the Opus Dei founder and Msgr. Juan Hervas Benet, who started the ‘Cursillos de Cristiandad’. In it, Francisca Colomer reveals the friendship which united these two great promotors of spiritual life for lay people. The second article, by Aldo Capucci, analyzes the relationship between St Josemaria and Blessed Ildefonso Schuster, Cardinal Archbishop of Milan, an outstanding figure of the Church in twentieth-century Italy.
Other studies in this section of miscellaneous topics take us to two parts of the globe widely separated from each other in space and cultural level: Harvard University and the untamed Andes, home of the Yauyos Prelature, Peru. In very different ways but with the same apostolic spirit, people of Opus Dei have worked to bring the Gospel to both places. John A. Gueguen’s article is the continuation of a previous one, published in Issue no. 1 of Studia et Documenta, about the early times of Opus Dei in Cambridge, Mass., while Esteban Puig writes about the Yauyos Prelature which the Holy See entrusted to Opus Dei, and the influence it has had on the development of the Peruvian clergy.
Map of the zone of Peru where the Yauyos Prelature is situated
The section ends with some biographical notes by Francisca R. Quiroga on Narcisa (Nisa) Gonzalez Guzman, one of the first women of Opus Dei.
The section entitled Documentation offers hitherto unpublished documents, appropriately introduced and annotated. This new issue includes two sets of correspondence. The first is the letters St Josemaria wrote to Dolores Fisac, another of the first women of Opus Dei, during the Spanish Civil War. As well as its biographical interest it provides a glimpse into the daily lives of refugees of the time. The introduction and notes are by Yolanda Cagigas. The second set of letters, introduced and annotated by Francisco Crosas, are those between the Opus Dei founder and Msgr. Javier Lauzurica, Bishop of Vitoria, Spain, in the years 1934-1940. Again, these are of interest not only for the history of Opus Dei but also for the history of the Church in Spain during those eventful years.
Fragment of a letter from St Josemaria to Dolores Fisac
The section entitled Notiziario (News) covers the way St Josemaria’s memory is preserved in urban space in Italy. The author, Aldo Capucci, relates the considerable number of streets, squares and other public spaces in Italian cities, towns and villages that have been called after St Josemaria.
This issue also includes a biographical section, with reviews and notes of new publications, and adds to the already monumental list of “General Bibliography” on St Josemaria and Opus Dei. The first three issues of Studia et Documenta aimed to offer an exhaustive bibliography on St Josemaria up to 2002, and this fourth number offers the first part of a “General Bibliography on Opus Dei” which will be continued in subsequent issues.
For further information see: href="http://www.isje.org/eng/studia-et-documenta4.html"target="_blank">www.isje.org (Istituto Storico San Josemaría Escrivá) and www.studiaetdocumenta.it