Oratory next to "Taipei 101"
“On Saturday, July 7, we installed the paintings in the church, on the two sides of the sanctuary,” wrote Father Esteban in a letter to his friends back in Spain. “We took advantage of some moldings already there that had some angels on top. It turned out very well. Sunday at Mass the faithful got to see them for the first time. Now we are going to print prayer cards with a short biography of the two saints.”
Esteban Aranaz is a priest who came to Taiwan from the Aragonese diocese of Tarazona. His parish in Taipei is next to the tallest building in the world, Taipei 101. The small church is a place of prayer and peace next to that 101 floor colossus, 1,670 feet in height, with an elevator that climbs at 55 feet per second.
The church, dedicated to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, was founded by Vincentian missionaries from Holland.
Recently the auxiliary bishop of Taipei blessed three new images for the church: one of St. Joseph, patron saint of China; another of St. Vincent de Paul, Founder of the Vincentians; and the other of St. Josemaría Escrivá, Founder of Opus Dei.
Also taking part in the ceremony with Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Zhong were the Vicar of Opus Dei for Southeast Asia, the Provincial of the Vincentian Fathers, and the Provincial Superior of the Sisters of Charity.
The pastor of the church explained a connection between two of these saints: “On October 2, 1928, the Founder of the Work was making a retreat in the house of the Vincentian Fathers in Madrid, next to the Basilica of the Miraculous Medal, when he received the grace of 'seeing' Opus Dei. Since I belong to the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross, I viewed this as a gift when I first arrived at this parish in Taipei two years ago.”
The portrait of St. Vincent shows the sanctity and love for the Cross in the life of the French missionary, Founder of the Vincentian Fathers and of the Sisters of Charity.
St. Josemaría's expression in the painting—with his hands open, as though initiating a dialogue—is related to an incident in the life of Fr. Esteban in his native land of Aragon.
“I had been going to various villages and parishes to show some videos about the Founder of the Work. I wanted to make him known and encourage devotion to him among the people there, since he is an Aragonese saint. In one village, as the video was beginning, a lady spontaneously turned to her friend and said: “Maria, look, a saint who talks!” Up until then, this good woman had only seen saints peaceful and silent on the altars and in their niches, but this was different. This anecdote has often given me food for thought, for it's true that St. Josemaría is a saint who speaks to people's hearts; he speaks with God and about God. Therefore when I commissioned these paintings, I told the painter that I wanted an expression like that.”
Romana, No. 45, July-December 2007, p. 308-309.