Brave, Passionate, and Full of Faith

A historian and theologian, Inma Alva does research at the Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer Documentation and Studies Center at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain. Part of her research focuses on the beginning of Opus Dei among women: the first ones who joined, the apostolic initiatives they set in motion, and how they spread Opus Dei to new countries. On the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the women’s section, we traveled back in time with Inma to meet some of the women who formed a part of “the history of God’s mercy,” as Saint Josemaria used to describe Opus Dei’s beginnings.

Although Saint Josemaria “saw” Opus Dei on 2 October 1928, he did not originally think that his mission was going to involve women. Why was that?

We can’t exactly know for sure, but at the beginning, St. Josemaria only worked with men: he was all alone and he was a young priest – just twenty-six years old – so it’s understandable also in human terms. But while celebrating Mass on 14 February 1930, during the moment of Communion, St. Josemaria said he received a light from God through which he understood with certainty that women would also need to be a part of his mission. As St. Josemaria would later state, “Opus Dei would have been left ‘crippled’ without women, with only one arm.” I think what he meant is that many essential human realities would have been left out of Opus Dei’s mission, which is to seek holiness in ordinary life.

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