Blessing of a plaque dedicated to St. Josemaría in the "Hospital del Rey," Madrid (January 9, 2008)
On January 9th, the anniversary of St. Josemaría’s birth, Fr. Jesus Conde, Vicar for Pastoral Work with the Sick in Madrid, accompanied by Fr. Peter Álvarez de Toledo, Vicar of Opus Dei for the Madrid-West Delegation, and the chaplains of the Hospital, Francisco Inez and Enrique del Castillo, blessed an image located in the chapel of the Carlos III Hospital, formerly the Hospital del Rey.
Taking part in the ceremony were doctors, researchers, hospital employees, patients, and other faithful. Next to the sculpture, by the artist Venancio Blanco, a plaque has been placed that reads: “St. Josemaría Escrivá, Founder of Opus Dei, canonized by His Holiness John Paul II on October 6, 2002, and the priests, Fr. José María Somoano and Fr. Lino Vea-Murguia, spiritually attended the sick in the Hospital del Rey with heroism during the 1930’s, encouraging them to transform their sufferings into a powerful prayer in God’s eyes.”
The Hospital del Rey is situated in northern Madrid, some four miles from the center of the city. In the thirties this district was outside the city limits. Its name, “The National Hospital for Infectious Diseases,” explains its isolation back then. Treated there were victims of epidemics and contagious diseases, above all tuberculosis, at that time often deadly. Later on new installations were added to the original buildings, which in part have lost their use as a hospital and become the seat of various research centers.
St. Josemaría would ask the sick people there “to offer all their sufferings, their hours in bed, their loneliness—and some of them were very much alone—for the work he was doing,” that is, for Opus Dei, which at that time, he said, was like an infant not yet born.
A sister working at the Hospital del Rey who knew St. Josemaría said, after his death: “When he came to hear confessions and give spiritual assistance to our sick, I saw them waiting for him with joy and hope. I saw them accept suffering and death with a fervor that was very moving to all of us around them.” Almost every Sunday and feast day he celebrated Mass for everyone in the hospital and preached a homily. If the weather permitted, he would celebrate the Eucharist in the garden, in the open air.
Romana, No. 46, January-June 2008, p. 116-117.