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Archdiocese of Guayaquil Opens the Process of Beatification for Archbishop Juan Ignacio Larrea Holguín

On June 27, the solemn opening of the canonization cause of Archbishop Juan Ignacio Larrea Holguín was held in the parish of El Sagrario, adjoining the Cathedral of Guayaquil. The ceremony was presided over by Archbishop Luis Cabrera. Also taking part were Giovanni Battista Piccioli, Auxiliary Bishop of Guayaquil, the Regional Vicar of Opus Dei in Ecuador, Rev. José Giner, who is the vice-postulator of the Cause, and Fernando Monaj, historical expert.


Archbishop Larrea  Holguin was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on August 9, 1927. He had a doctorate in Law from the University of Rome and from the University of Quito, and also in Canon Law from the University of Saint Thomas in Rome. He was also a Professor of Law in the Catholic Universities of Quito and Guayaquil, and at the Central University of Quito.


In 1948 during his university studies in Rome, Juan Larrea met St. Josemaría Escrivá, the founder of Opus Dei. He was the first Ecuadorian to join, in 1949, this institution of the Catholic Church.


In 1952 he returned to Ecuador. Taking advantage of his work as a lawyer and his involvement in public life, he carried out an intense apostolate with people from every walk of life.


He was ordained a priest in 1962. In 1959, Pope Paul VI appointed him as auxiliary bishop of Quito. Later he was appointed as bishop of Ibarra, the first bishop of the Armed Forces, and as Archbishop of Guayaquil from 1989 to 2003. As a priest and later as a bishop he carried out a wide-ranging pastoral work, preaching numerous retreats, visiting the parishes in his diocese, and fostering the work of formation in the diocesan seminaries. Archbishop Larrea spread Catholic doctrine through his numerous publications (over a hundred articles and books about the Law), as well as through frequent radio broadcasts and appearances on television.     

In 1996 he learned he had a cancer. With courage and a smile on his lips, he bore that long illness without interrupting his pastoral and intellectual work or his spiritual life. He strove every day to make good use of time, without wasting even a minute. His motto as bishop was Caritas Christi urget nos (the love of Christ urges us on), which sums up his intense life of prayer and work.


He gave up his soul to God in a holy death on August 27, 2006, in Quito. His body reposes in the Cathedral of Guayaquil.


The cause of beatification and canonization of Archbishop Larrea Holguín is being promoted by the Archdiocese of Guayaquil. In 2016 the Congregation for the Causes of Saints granted the nihil obstat for the investigation of the cause.

Romana, No. 64, January-June 2017, p. 168-169.