On the morning of December 2, 1937, a group of eight exhausted people entered Sant Julià de Lòria, Andorra. They thus ended a harrowing crossing of the Pyrenees fleeing a Spain convulsed by war. The church in Sant Julià was the first church the fugitives had seen in a long time that had not suffered profanation. One of the eight people in the group was St. Josemaría.
For the seventy-fifth anniversary of that event, several commemorative ceremonies were held in Sant Julià and in Andorra la Vella, on Saturday December 1, with about one thousand people in attendance. Invited by the Archbishop of Urgell and co-prince of Andorra, Joan-Enric Vives, the Prelate of Opus Dei also participated in the ceremonies.
In the morning a bronze statue of St. Josemaria in the parish of Sant Julià de Lòria was blessed, the work of the artist Rebeca Muñoz. Situated on the old reredos of the church, the saint is shown in an attitude of adoration, with his eyes fixed on the Blessed Sacrament.
The consul of Sant Julià, Montserrat Gil, welcomed all of those taking part and especially the ecclesiastical authorities. “Seventy-five years later,” she said, “we Lauredianos (as the people of Sant Julià de Lòria are called) have a special affection for St. Josemaría Escrivá and all the fugitives who saved their lives by passing through our land.” The consul expressed her appreciation for the new sculpture, which “will keep his memory alive.” Archbishop Vives, in the name of the diocese of Urgell, had warm words for the parish community of Sant Julià and for all those present: “Welcome, Bishop Echevarría, to what is today your house, your parish, as it was 75 years ago for St. Josemaría,” he said, addressing the Prelate of Opus Dei. Bishop Echevarría in turn had words of gratitude for the Archbishop of Urgell and for the consul of Sant Julià. Saying that he was moved by the affectionate recognition that was being given to the founder of Opus Dei, he spoke about the significance of the anniversary of the passage of a saint through Andorra. His homily can be read in the From the Prelate section in this issue of Romana.
After the blessing of the statue, Archbishop Vives and Bishop Echevarría were received in the Casa de la Vall, seat of the Andorran parliament.
In the evening, in the Congress Center of Andorra la Vella, the Sixth Congress of Paths of Freedom across the Pyrenees was held. This congress is organized annually by the “Association of Friends of the Pallerols Path from Rialp to Andorra.” Its president, Joaquim Munich, welcomed those present to this session, which bore the title: “The passage of St. Josemaría through Andorra in the year 1937.” The meeting included presentations by the Honorable Maria Rosa Ferrer, Consul of Andorra la Vella, by Archbishop Joan-Enric Vives, and by Bishop Javier Echevarría, who gave the address that is also found in this issue of Romana.
The ceremony included the projection of a video with three oral testimonies about the founder of Opus Dei and his passage through the Pyrenees: that of Mossén Lluis Pujol, former rector of Andorra la Vella; Mossén Joan Porta, former rector of Pallerols de Rialb; and Dr. Juan Jiménez Vargas, a member of the group that accompanied St. Josemaría in 1937.