Opus Dei

Opus Dei, founded in Madrid on 2 October 1928 by Saint Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, has been a Prelature staffof the Catholic Church since 28 November 1982. Pope John Paul II, by means of the Bull "Ut sit", erected Opus Dei as the first Prelature, a juridical figure contemplated in the magisterium of the Second Vatican Council. At present, more than 90,000 people from the five continents are members of the Prelature. Its headquarters are in Rome.


  • 1928

    2 October

    During a retreat in Madrid, Josemaría Escrivá saw that God was calling him to found for all classpeople a way of sanctification of the professional workand of the ordinary duties of life. The name "Opus Dei" came later. Although he began to use it at the beginning of the 1930s, from the very beginning he spoke of the Work of God in his notes and in his conversations about what God was asking of him.

  • 1930

    14 February

    Also in Madrid, while he was celebrating Mass, God made him understand that Opus Dei was also addressed to women.

  • 1933

    DYA Academy

    The DYA Academy, the first Opus Dei centre specifically for students, opens, offering classes in law and architecture.

  • 1934

    DYA becomes a university residency program. From there, the founder and the first members offer Christian trainingand spread the message of Opus Dei among young people. An important part of this work is the catechesisand the care of the poor and sick in the extreme neighbourhoods of Madrid. Consideraciones espirituales, the forerunner of The Way, is published in Cuenca.

  • 1936

    Spanish Civil War

    Spanish Civil War. The Catholic Church was persecuted and, in order to save his life, Josemaría Escrivá had to take refuge in various places. Circumstances imposed failhis plans to extend the apostolic work of Opus Dei to other countries.

  • 1937

    Crossing the Pyrenees

    The founder and some faithful of Opus Dei cross the Pyrenees via Andorra and enter the area of Spain where the Church is free.

  • 1938


    Recommencement of the apostolic workfrom the city of Burgos.

  • 1939

    It returns to Madrid. Opus Dei expands to other Spanish cities. The outbreak of the Second World War prevents the beginning of Opus Dei in other countries.

  • 1941

    19 March

    The Bishop of Madrid, Leopoldo Eijo Garay, grants Opus Dei its first diocesan approval.

  • 1943

    14 February

    During the Mass, Josemaría Escrivá sees a juridical solution that will allow the ordination of Opus Dei priests: the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross.

  • 1944

    25 June

    The Bishop of Madrid ordains three faithful of Opus Dei to the priesthood: Álvaro del Portillo, José María Hernández de Garnica and José Luis Múzquiz.

  • 1945

    Expansion in Europe and America

    Beginning of Opus Dei's expansion in Europe and America.

  • 1946

    Transfer to Rome

    The founder of Opus Dei moved to Rome, where he spent long periods of time alternating with Madrid. In the following years he travelled from Rome to prepare the establishment of Opus Dei's work in different countries.

  • 1947

    24 February

    The Holy See grants the first pontifical approval to Opus Dei.

  • 1948

    29 June

    The founder erects the Roman high schoolof the Holy Cross. Since then, many faithful of Opus Dei have received a solid spiritual and pastoral education at trainingand at the same time have attended programs of studyin various Roman pontifical athenaeums.

  • 1950

    16 June

    Pius XII gives the approval finalof Opus Dei, which allows married people to join Opus Dei and priests of the secular clergy of the dioceses to join the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross Admissions Office.

  • 1952

    General Survey of Navarre

    Creation in Pamplona (Spain) of the Estudio General de Navarra, which later became the University of Navarra.

  • 1953

    12 December

    Establishment of the Roman high schoolof Santa Maria, which provides an intense spiritual, theological and apostolic trainingto women of Opus Dei from all over the world.

  • 1957

    Prelature of Yauyos

    The Holy See entrusts the Prelature of Yauyos in Peru to Opus Dei.

  • 1958 onwards

    Expansion in Asia and Africa

    Opus Dei begins to expand in Asia and Africa.

  • 1965

    21 November

    Paul VI inaugurates the Elis Centre, an initiative for the professional trainingof young people, located on the outskirts of Rome, with a parish that the Holy See entrusts to Opus Dei.

  • 1969

    congressExtraordinary General

    congressThe General Council of Opus Dei in Rome to study its transformation into a prelature staff, a juridical figure foreseen by the Second Vatican Council and appropriate to the pastoral phenomenon of Opus Dei.

  • 1970

    Travel to Mexico

    The founder of Opus Dei travels to Mexico. He went to pray for nine days at the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. In several large gatherings he gave an intense Christian catechesis.

  • 1972

    Travel in Spain and Portugal

    St. Josemaría travels through Spain and Portugal on a two-month trip to catechesis.

  • 1974

    Journey through South America

    Trip of catechesisof the founder of Opus Dei to six South American countries: Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Venezuela.

  • 1975

    Travel to Venezuela and Guatemala

    Trip of catechesisof the founder of Opus Dei to Venezuela and Guatemala.

  • 1975

    26 June

    Josemaría Escrivá dies in Rome. At that time some 60,000 people belonged to Opus Dei.

  • 1975


    Inauguration of the sanctuary of Nuestra Señora de Torreciudad (Huesca, Spain).

  • 1975

    15 September

    Alvaro del Portillo is chosen to succeed the founder of Opus Dei.

  • 1982

    28 November

    John Paul II erected Opus Dei as a Prelature staff, a juridical figure appropriate to its theological and pastoral nature, and appointed Álvaro del Portillo as prelate.

  • 1983

    19 March

    Execution of the bull erecting Opus Dei as a Prelature staff.

  • 1985

    Roman Academic Centre of the Holy Cross

    The Roman Academic Centre of the Holy Cross is founded in Rome, which in 1998 becomes the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross.

  • 1991

    6 January

    John Paul II ordains Bishop del Portillo, prelate of Opus Dei.

  • 1992

    17 May

    Beatification of Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer at placeof St. Peter's (Rome).

  • 1994

    23 March

    Bishop Alvaro del Portillo dies in Rome. Alvaro del Portillo died in Rome, a few hours after returning from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

  • 1994

    20 April

    John Paul II appoints Javier Echevarría as Prelate of Opus Dei, confirming the election made at the elective General Meeting held in Rome, congress.

  • 1995

    6 January

    Bishop Echevarría is ordained bishop by John Paul II.

  • 2002

    6 October

    John Paul II canonises Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer in St. Peter's place(Rome).


bibliographyrelated to Opus Dei

Quiroga, Francisca R.

"Apuntes para una reviewbiográfica de Narcisa González Guzmán, una de las primeras mujeres del Opus Dei", Studia et Documenta: Rivista dell'Istituto Storico san Josemaría Escrivá, vol. IV, num. 4, 2010.

Cagigas Ocejo, Yolanda.

"Letters of Josemaría Escrivá to Dolores Fisac (May 21, 1937 - November 16, 1937)", Studia et Documenta: Rivista dell'Istituto Storico san Josemaría Escrivá, vol. IV, num. 4, 2010.

Montero Díaz, Mercedes.

"The beginnings of Opus Dei's work with female university students: the residency programZurbarán de Madrid (1947 - 1950)", Studia et Documenta: Rivista dell'Istituto Storico san Josemaría Escrivá, vol. IV, num. 4, 2010.

Burggraf, Jutta.

The power of trust. Blessed Josemaría Escrivá and women. Temas de actualidad, vol. I, San José de Costa Rica, Promesa, 2001.

Leonardi, Mauro.

Come Gesù: L'amicizia e il dono del celibato apostolico. Emmaus. Nuova serie, Milano, Ares, 2011.

Montero Casado de Amezúa, María Isabel.

"L'avvio del Collegio Romano di Santa María". Studia et Documenta: Rivista dell'Istituto Storico san Josemaría Escrivá, vol. VII, num. 7, 2013.

Oates, Marie T. Ruf, Linda. Driver, Jenny.

Women of Opus Dei: in their own words. New York, The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2009.

Quiroga, Francisca R.

"February 14, 1930: the transmission of an event and a message". Studia et Documenta: Rivista dell'Istituto Storico san Josemaría Escrivá, vol. I, num. 1, 2007.

Toranzo Fernández, Gloria.

"The beginnings of Opus Dei's apostolate among women (1930-1939)". Studia et Documenta: Rivista dell'Istituto Storico san Josemaría Escrivá, vol. VII, num. 7, 2013.


Prelates of Opus Dei



International expansion of Opus Dei

Year of the beginning of Opus Dei's stable work in various countries: