Álvaro del Portillo

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Álvaro del Portillo
Prelate of Opus Dei
Alvaro del Portillo
Álvaro del Portillo
Native name
Álvaro del Portillo y Diez de Sollano
ChurchRoman Catholic Church
In office1982—1994
PredecessorSaint Josemaría Escrivá
SuccessorJavier Echevarría Rodríguez
Other postsTitular Bishop of Vita (1990-1994)
Ordination25 June 1944
by Leopoldo Eijo y Garay
Consecration6 January 1991
by Pope John Paul II
Personal details
Born(1914-03-11)11 March 1914
Madrid, Spain
Died23 March 1994(1994-03-23) (aged 80)
Rome, Italy
BuriedChurch of Santa María de la Paz, Italy
Previous postGeneral President of Opus Dei (1975-1982)
MottoRegnare Christum volumus ("We want Christ to Reign!")
Coat of armsÁlvaro del Portillo's coat of arms
Feast day12 May
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church
Title as SaintBlessed
Beatified27 September 2014
Madrid, Spain
by Cardinal Angelo Amato (on behalf of Pope Francis)
AttributesBishop's attire

Álvaro del Portillo y Diez de Sollano (11 March 1914 – 23 March 1994) was a Spanish engineer and Roman Catholic bishop. He served as the prelate of Opus Dei between 1982 and 1994 as the successor to Josemaría Escrivá.

Church leaders Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Carlo Caffarra have praised Portillo as a faithful servant of God. John Paul II referred to him as a "good and faithful servant" while Caffarra dubbed him a "disciple of Christ".

His cause of sainthood commenced on 21 January 2004 after being titled as a Servant of God. The confirmation of his heroic virtue on 28 June 2012 allowed for Pope Benedict XVI to name him as Venerable. He was beatified on 27 September 2014 in Madrid in a Mass that Cardinal Angelo Amato presided over on the behalf of Pope Francis.


Alvaro del Portillo was born in Madrid on 11 March 1914. He was the third of eight children to the devout Ramón del Portillo Pardo and Clementina Diez de Solano Portillo; the couple had married on 11 January 1908. He was baptized on 17 March in the parish of Saint Joseph. He studied civil engineering and after obtaining his doctorate at the University of Madrid taught at its School of Engineering. He briefly worked with the Bureau of Highways and Bridges in the provinces crossed by the rivers Júcar, Duero and Ebro.

He received his Confirmation on 28 December 1916 from the Bishop of Siguenza Eustaquio Nieto y Martín and went on to receive his First Communion on 12 May 1921.

In 1935, he joined Opus Dei and was subsequently ordained to the priesthood on June 25, 1944 by Bishop Leopoldo Eijo y Garay of Madrid as one of the first three men ordained for Opus Dei [1] He continued his studies to obtain a doctorate in Philosophy and Letters in history in 1944 from Central University of Madrid, with a dissertation entitled Discoveries and Exploration on the California Coast.[2] In 1948 he earned a Doctorate in Canon Law from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum[3]

The beatification of del Portillo.

He then dedicated himself exclusively to the ministry and government of Opus Dei as its Secretary General. During the pontificate of Pope Pius XII (1939–1958), he worked in several Dicasteries of the Holy See. He met with that pontiff in a private audience on 4 June 1943 and met with Giovanni Battista Montini (the future Pope Paul VI) on the following 17 June.

In 1963, he was named by Pope John XXIII as a consultant on the Pontifical Commission for the revision of the Code of Canon Law. Pope Paul VI named him consultant on several post-Conciliar commissions. In 1975, he was chosen general president of the Opus Dei and successor of Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, and in 1982, the Holy See appointed him as the first Prelate of Opus Dei. In 1991, he was consecrated a bishop by Pope John Paul II, with Archbishops Giovanni Battista Re and Justin Francis Rigali serving as co-consecrators. That same year, he attended World Youth Day in Czestochowa.

He has written extensively about pastoral and ecclesiological matters that examine among others, the role of the lay faithful in the Roman Catholic Church, the human side of priestly formation, the dynamics and functionality of pastoral structures. As Prelate, he also served as Grand Chancellor of the University of Piura in Peru.

Shortly after his 80th birthday, he returned to Rome on a pilgrimage from the Holy Land. He died shortly thereafter. He had celebrated his last Mass at the Church of the Cenacle.[1] Later that day, Pope John Paul II came to pray before del Portillo’s remains, which now lie in the crypt of the Church of the Prelature, Our Lady of Peace at Bruno Buozzi 75, Rome.

Contribution to the Second Vatican Council[edit]

The history of del Portillo's involvement is as follows:

  • May 2, 1959: named Consultor of the congregation of the Council;
  • August 10, 1959: named President of the VII internal Commission De laicatu catholico;
  • Named member of the pre-preparatory Commission on the states of perfection;
  • August 12 elected member of the III Commission of the Congregation of the Council encharged to study the so-called peculiaria nostrae aetatis apostolatus media.
  • October 4, 1962: named conciliar “Peritus.”
  • November 4, 1962: named “Peritus” of the Commission for the Discipline of the Clergy and Christian People;
  • November 8, 1962: named Secretary of this organism
  • Named Consultor of the Commissions for the Bishops and the regime of the dioceses, the Religious and the Discipline of the Faith.
  • September 29 – December 1963: during the Second Session of the Council, the Commission for the Discipline of the Clergy and the Christian People, of which D. Alvaro was Secretary, was charged to synthesize into a single conciliar decree (to become “Presbyterorum Ordinis). He coordinated the work of the members of the Commission which became a conciliar text of a single chapter subdivided into 10 parts.

According to Salvador Bernal, his biographer: Del Portillo was the person who argued that there be a specific Decree for priests. Also one of the decisions of the Commission for the Discipline of the Clergy and the Christian People was "defend centuries-old traditions against those who regarded them as mere pietism. It discussed the presence of the priest in the world, and why he needed a good formation in the basic human virtues in order to serve the men and women of his time. But it also warned that priests should not adopt lay lifestyles, much less take on commitments of a partisan political nature. Finally, it asserted the freedom to join associations which in one way or another could help them achieve personal sanctification in the carrying out of their priestly ministry.”

“Not a week had gone by after the close of the Council when Cardinal Ciriaci, president of the commission of which Don Alvaro had been secretary, sent him a note expressing heartfelt gratitude and congratulations for the happy conclusion of a great achievement.” The note said: “You steered to a safe harbor your decree, which is by no means the least important of the decrees and constitutions of the Council.” The vote on the document was 2390 to 4, a nearly unanimous approval after thorough debate, on December 7, 1965. Ciriaci said: (History would regard this decree as) “a fresh, and practically unanimous, confirmation by the Second Vatican Council of ecclesiastical celibacy and the exalted mission of the priesthood.”

Pope Paul VI also commented on his work: “I am well aware of the extent to which this is a result of your prudent, tenacious, and courteous efforts. Without failing to respect the freedom of others to have and to express their own opinions, you never swerved from the track of fidelity to the great principles of priestly spirituality.”



On his death, John Paul II recalled del Portillo's "zealous priestly and episcopal life, the example he always gave of fortitude and of trust in divine providence and his fidelity to the See of Peter.”[citation needed]

The then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger referred to del Portillo's "modesty and availability in every circumstance,” in his work at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which del Portillo "enriched in a singular way with his competence and experience.”[citation needed]

On December 6, 2002, Javier Echevarria Rodriguez ordered an investigation into the cause for canonization of del Portillo.[citation needed]

In 2004, the Cardinal Vicar of Rome, Camillo Ruini, said “The rather frequent occasions that I had to meet Bishop del Portillo imprinted on my soul the conviction that I found myself in the presence of an exemplary pastor.” He added: “In the firmness of his adherence to the doctrine of the Church, in his union with the Pope, in his pastoral charity, in his humility, and in his balance, he exhibited an extraordinary interior richness.” According to the Cardinal, “the service that Don Alvaro always provided to the Church of Rome and the prompt and effective way that he supported the Holy Father’s pastoral initiatives in this diocese showed the love of the Church that he had learned from St. Josemaría.”[citation needed]

Ruini said that there is a desire for a “quick beginning of this cause of canonization” on the part of “so many members of the ecclesiastical hierarchy and of the people of God.” Also that there is “an abundant store of testimonies of people who knew him, among them, those of quite a few cardinals and bishops,” he said. He then added: “The Bishop’s Conference [of Italy] has unanimously expressed its favorable opinion” on beginning the cause.[citation needed]

For the process, 133 witnesses were interviewed. Among them were 19 cardinals and 12 bishops or archbishops. 62 of the witnesses belong to the Prelature; 71 do not belong to it. The documentation submitted to the Vatican comprised 2,530 pages in three volumes.[citation needed]


On June 28, 2012 — as approved by Pope Benedict XVI — the Vatican announced that his life had been recognized as one of "heroic virtue"[2], a major step towards an eventual beatification. From this time on, Msgr. del Portillo was styled "Venerable Servant of God".


On July 5, 2013 Pope Francis published a decree from the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints declaring the miraculous character of a cure of a Chilean boy attributed to the intercession of the del Portillo.[4] Del Portillo was beatified on September 27, 2014 in his birth city of Madrid by Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints. May 12 was appointed as his feast day.[5]


  • Descubrimientos y exploraciones en las costas de California, 1532-1650 ("Discoveries and explorations off the coast of California, 1532-1650") (1944, doctoral thesis)
  • Faithful and laity in the Church (1969)
  • On the Priesthood (1970)
  • Dinamicità e funzionalità delle strutture pastorali ("Dynamism and functionality of pastoral structures")
  • ¿Un nuevo Derecho Canónico? ("A new canon law?")
  • Morale e Diritto ("Morality and law")
  • Immersed in God: Blessed Josemaria Escriva, Founder of Opus Dei as Seen by His Successor, Bishop Álvaro Del Portillo—by Álvaro Del Portillo and Cesare Cavalleri
  • Journey with Jesus through the Liturgical Year
  • Orar: Como sal y como luz ("Praying: like salt and like light")

Excerpts from his works[edit]

"Authentic joy is based on this foundation: that we want to live for God and want to serve others because of God. Let us tell the Lord that we want nothing more than to serve him with joy. If we behave in this way we shall find that our inner peace, our joy, our good humour will attract many souls to God. Give witness to Christian joy. Show to those around you that this is our great secret. We are happy because we are children of God, because we deal with him, because we struggle to become better for him. And when we fail, we go right away to the Sacrament of joy where we recover our sense of fraternity with all men and women." Homily, 12 Apr 1984; quoted by Francis Fernandez Carvajal in In Conversation With God, vol.5, p. 155


  1. ^ a b "Brief biography of Bishop Alvaro del Portillo (1914-1994)"
  2. ^ Coverdale, John F. Saxum: The Life of Alvaro del Portillo
  3. ^ http://prelaturaspersonales.org/portillo-y-diez-de-sollano-alvaro-del-1914-1994/ Accessed 28 May 2014
  4. ^ http://www.sacbee.com/2013/07/05/5547328/john-paul-ii-and-john-xxiii-to.html
  5. ^ Álvaro del Portillo [@donAlvaro14] (27 September 2014). "Alvaro del Portillo has been beatified! The feast of #BeatoAlvaro will be on the 12th of May" (Tweet) – via Twitter.


  • Postulator Speaks about Alvaro del Portillo's Cause of Canonization
  • Bernal, Salvador (August 1999). Álvaro del Portillo. Scepter Publishers. ISBN 1-889334-18-9
  • Spanish biography of Msgr. del Portillo
  • Anniversary of the death of Alvaro del Portillo by Robert O'Connor
  • Amadeo de Fuenmayor Champín and Manuel J. Peláez, “Álvaro [José María Eulogio] del Portillo Diez de Sollano (1914-1994)”, in Diccionario crítico de Juristas españoles, portugueses y latinoamericanos (hispánicos, brasileños, quebequenses y restantes francófonos) [until November 2006], vol. II, part 1 (M-Va), Zaragoza-Barcelona, 2006, pp. 335–339, no. 818.
  • María del Carmen Amaya Galván, extended and updated English version of Álvaro del Portillo’s biography as a canonist, written by A. de Fuenmayor and Manuel J. Peláez, in María del Carmen Amaya Galván and M. J. Peláez, “Informes jurídicos y notas políticas sobre la situación política y jurídica de Andorra remitidos al Prefecto de los Pirineos Orientales (1881-1965) por el Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores galo, por el Comisario extraordinario para los Valles de Andorra René Baulard (1933 y 1936-1940) y por otras autoridades y personalidades políticas y académicas (tercera parte)”, in Contribuciones a las Ciencias Sociales, ISSN 1988-7833, October 2010, online, http://www.eumed.net/rev/cccss/10/pag.htm (pp. 1–76), see .Pdf file, pp. 5–9, notes 9 and 10 [It has been indexed as an extended abstract in EconPapers (Örebro University – Swedish Business School. Sweden), in Ideas in Society of Economic Dynamics (University of Connecticut. U.S.A.), and in Соционет, научное информационное пространство (Moscow. Russia)].
Catholic Church titles
New title Prelate of Opus Dei
28 November 1982 – 23 March 1994
Succeeded by
Javier Echevarría Rodríguez
Preceded by
Francisco Orozco Lomelín
Bishop of Vita
7 December 1990 – 23 March 1994
Succeeded by
Pablo Cedano Cedano