Opus Dei is a personal prelature of the Catholic Church. It was founded in Madrid on October 2, 1928 by Saint Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer. Its mission is to spread the message of the universal call to holiness and apostolate in the world. Namely, that all Christians are called to live as children of God in ordinary life, turning their work and the ordinary circumstances of their life into occasions for growing closer to God, for serving others and for apostolate.
At the same time as Opus Dei urges its faithful to practice an intense life of prayer, it offers them appropriate means of Christian and spiritual formation (classes, retreats, priestly care etc.). The faithful are also encouraged to commit themselves to helping their contemporaries in the renewal and improvement of culture, civilization and the social realities, invigorating them with the love and truth that Christ brought to the earth.
At present, the faithful of the Prelature number more than 85,000 in the five continents. The headquarters is in Rome (Viale Bruno Buozzi 75). The prelatic church, Our Lady of Peace, is also to be found in Rome.
Further information may be obtained at www.opusdei.org.
1928. 2 October: While on a spiritual retreat in Madrid, St. Josemaría Escrivá, under divine inspiration, founded Opus Dei as a way of sanctification for people from all walks of life, in their daily work and the fulfilment of their ordinary duties as Christians. The name “Opus Dei” came later and was not used until the early 1930s. However, from the outset, in his writings and conversations about what God was asking of him, he would talk of the Work of God.
1930. 14 February: In Madrid, while celebrating Mass, God enabled St. Josemaría to understand that the message of Opus Dei was addressed to women as well.
1933. The first centre of Opus Dei was opened in Madrid: the DYA Academy, mainly for students, where classes in law and architecture were given.
1934. DYA became a residence for college students. From that base, the founder and the first members offered Christian formation, and spread the message of Opus Dei among young people. An important aspect of this work was the teaching of the Catholic faith to children, and looking after the poor and sick in the outlying neighbourhoods of Madrid. Consideraciones espirituales, the forerunner of The Way, was published.
1936. The Spanish Civil War: religious persecution was unleashed and St. Josemaría was obliged to hide in various different places. This interruption of his apostolic work temporarily delayed the plans of the founder to expand the apostolic work of Opus Dei to other countries.
1937. The founder and some members of Opus Dei completed a harrowing escape over the Pyrenees through Andorra and made their way to an area where the Church was not being persecuted (Burgos).
1938. Renewal of apostolic work in Burgos, Spain.
1939. St. Josemaría returned to Madrid. Expansion of Opus Dei to other Spanish cities. The beginning of World War II prevented expansion to other countries.
1941. 19 March: The bishop of Madrid, Leopoldo Eijo y Garay, granted the first diocesan approval of Opus Dei.
1943. 14 February: Again during Mass, God let St. Josemaría see the juridical solution that would enable priests to be ordained for Opus Dei: the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross.
1944. 25 June: The bishop of Madrid ordained three members of Opus Dei as priests: Álvaro del Portillo, José María Hernández de Garnica, and José Luis Múzquiz.