Project Saxum: Pilgrimages to the Holy Land
St. Josemaría always hoped to visit the Holy Land during his life, in order to follow closely, here as well, in the footsteps of Jesus. “He had a great desire to go to the Holy Land,” Bishop Alvaro del Portillo said. “In his prayer, he put himself as another person in the Gospel scenes, taking note of each detail. But since he had never been there, he imagined the scenery as best he could according to what he had studied and read.” That desire has also extended to all of his spiritual children in Opus Dei and to their relatives and friends, for he wanted everyone to have the opportunity during their life to “pray, kneel and kiss the ground that Jesus tread.” The Venerable Alvaro del Portillo was able to fulfill this desire in 1994, by carrying out a pilgrimage in thanksgiving for God’s gifts. Only a few hours after his return to Rome, on March 23, God called him into his presence. He had celebrated his last Mass in the church of the Cenacle in Jerusalem.
Following the footsteps of Christ
Since then, inspired by the wish of St. Josemaria, and in memory of Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, faithful of Opus Dei, together with cooperators and friends, have put into operation the “Saxum” project: the construction of an center for spiritual activities and service to pilgrims in the Holy Land. In the Saxum center retreats and conferences will be held, inspired by the teachings of St. Josemaría Escrivá. It will be a place where people from all over the world, eager for a renewed encounter with Jesus and his Gospel, will have the opportunity to deepen their desires for holiness and evangelization, combining the pilgrimage with time for study, prayer and reflection. With its doors wide open to all men and women, Saxum also seeks to become an instrument of peace and unity in that region of the world.
The complex will also offer orientation and information for visitors and tourist guides in the Holy Land, with interactive and multimedia resources to illustrate the Christian heritage, as well as its Jewish roots. The hope is to foster mutual understanding with other religious beliefs, as well as offer resources for a deeper understanding of the visits made by pilgrims to the holy places. Visitors will be able to attend daily Mass, receive the Sacrament of Confession, and spend time in prayer.
With the assistance of all
“Saxum,” the Latin word for rock, is a term St. Josemaría used for Alvaro del Portillo, beginning in 1939, because of his fidelity and strong support. In giving this name to the activities center, the promoters want to show their gratitude to the future “Blessed” for his life of service to the Church.
The buildings, now under construction, are located in Abu Gosh, a small community some ten miles from Jerusalem, through which the “way to Emmaus” runs.
Saxum International Foundation is a not-for-profit organization responsible for the international fundraising campaign. It has established agreements with other foundations in various countries to facilitate local donations and has organized informative gatherings throughout the world.
Saxum is a project that is being built brick by brick, through the generosity, effort and affection of many people all over the world who take part in the Prelature’s apostolates. People from of all walks are providing financial assistance in a great variety of ways.
Romana, No. 58, January-June 2014, p. 137-138.