October 3: Transference to St. Eugene's
People began arriving in Rome as early as the end of September. Many of these were young people who had volunteered to help out in finalizing preparations for the canonization. Some also came from distant countries, for whom the canonization trip might be their only opportunity to visit the Eternal City. Fiumicino airport saw the constant arrival of people of all races and nationalities, who were met by a team of volunteers. The flow of visitors grew day by day in the Prelatic Church of Our Lady of Peace, where the sacred remains of the Founder of Opus Dei repose.
On the morning of October 3, the sacred body of Blessed Josemaría was transferred to the Basilica of Saint Eugene, as also was done in 1992 during the days of the beatification. This large church would provide room for the thousands of faithful who wanted to pray before the relics of the new saint.
The transfer was preceded by a solemn Mass at which the Prelate of Opus Dei officiated. From its resting place, the casket was carried to the outside door of 75 Viale Bruno Buozzi. A hearse then brought it to the Piazzale delle Belle Arti, the plaza where Viale Bruno Buozzi ends and where St. Eugene’s Basilica is located. The large billboards along Viale Bruno Buozzi carried colorful invitations to take part in the approaching canonization.
The casket was placed in the sanctuary of St. Eugene’s Basilica, in front of the altar. From then on it was constantly accompanied by an ever changing flow of people. Masses in honor of the Founder of Opus Dei followed one another throughout each day at the main altar. In the confessionals dozens of priests administered the sacrament of penance.
That same day, also in the morning, a press conference was held at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross to provide canonization facts to the media. “The ceremony will have a strong international character,” said Marta Manzi, spokesperson for the Organizing Committee. People from 84 different countries were expected to take part. One press release distributed to the journalists noted that “forty percent of the participants are young people who will stay in camp grounds, parish schools and halls, and similar places in and around Rome.” Also present would be people like 99-year-old Father Quirino Glorioso, a priest from the diocese of Laguna, Philippines, who was going to the canonization “because his former parishioners had taken up a collection to pay for his trip,” as the same press release pointed out.
Many civil and church authorities were to part in the ceremony, as well as some well-known figures in the worlds of culture and sports. But as Marta Manzi stressed in her press conference, “for the faithful of Opus Dei, the canonization is an invitation to conversion. It is not a day of exaltation, but one of humility; an ideal moment to renew the desire to seek God in their work and in ordinary life.”
This echoed what the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, had published in L'Osservatore Romano a few days earlier, on September 21. The Cardinal pointed out that Josemaría Escrivá's canonization represents a milestone on the Church’s journey “towards the sanctity to which every Christian is called: the personal sanctity of ordinary Christian faithful.”
Romana, No. 35, July-December 2002, p. 200-202.