Dora del Hoyo

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Dora del Hoyo Alonso
Born January 11, 1914
Boca de Huérgano, León
Died January 10, 2004
Rome,  Italy

Dora del Hoyo Alonso (11 January 1914 - 10 January 2004; born Salvadora Honorata del Hoyo Alonso in Leon, Spain) was one of the first women members of Opus Dei.[1]:9–11 A domestic worker by profession, Dora was the first to join the movement as an assistant numerary meaning that she dedicated herself professionally to looking after the material needs of Opus Dei centers.[2] From 1946 until her death, she lived in Rome, Italy where she collaborated first with Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, Opus Dei's founder, and later on with his successors Álvaro del Portillo and Bishop Javier Echevarría, in the domestic management of the first Opus Dei center there, later the movement's headquarters.[3] Her process of canonization was opened in Rome on June 18, 2012 by Echevarría, at the request of many who knew and worked with her.[4] Her mortal remains lie close to the tomb of Escriva, in the crypt of Our Lady of Peace Church in Rome.[4]


Dora was born on January 11, 1914, in the village of Boca de Huérgano in Leon, Spain, the fifth of six children. Her father, Demetrio del Hoyo, was a farm-laborer and her mother, Carmen Alonso, a home-maker.[1]:13–15 To support her family, at an early age Dora began working as a housekeeper for the village doctor. In 1935, Dora decided to look for better housework opportunities in Astorga, León, but the onset of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) caused her to have to return to her hometown.[1]:16

In 1940, Dora moved to Madrid, once again in search of better opportunities. Through the help of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate for Domestic Service (a religious congregation founded by Sister Vincentia Maria López y Vicuña and dedicated to helping young girls find employment in household work), Dora got hired as a housemaid for the Marquess of Almunia, and later on for the Dukes of Nájera.[5]:269

In 1944, Dora was still working for the Duke when she came in contact with Opus Dei. Fr. Josemaria Escriva, founder of the then-new Opus Dei movement, had turned to the Daughters for Domestic Service for help in hiring household employees for a student dormitory he was opening called the Moncloa Residence.[5]:271 The Mother Superior of the Domestic Service Daughters recommended Dora, who happened to have some days off at the time. In spite of the low pay offered and her little desire to go, at the nun's insistence Dora agreed to help out the residence for a few days.[6]

Later on, Dora decided to give up the job at the Dukes of Nájera to devote herself full-time to the Moncloa, even though the pay there was lower and the working conditions significantly worse. Later on when asked why she did this, Dora said that she was moved "to see how hard they worked" and that she was also impressed by Escriva and his teaching.[1]:34 Commenting on Escriva's The Way, Dora recalled, "I was very enthused by [it]... With each thing that I heard, I thought, 'This is for me.' I liked it a lot and I read it all in one sitting - I couldn't go to bed without finishing it."[1]:37

On 14 March 1946, Dora joined Opus Dei as an assistant numerary, meaning that, in addition to committing to live according to Opus Dei's spirit and "plan of life", she had decided to dedicate herself professionally to caring for the household needs of Opus Dei centers - cleaning, laundry, meals, and other aspects of care of the home - and thus contribute with her work of domestic service to Opus Dei's mission of spreading the universal call to holiness in ordinary life.[1]:37[2] Since an important consequence of Escriva's message of sanctifying any honest work looks in a special way to the care of the home, something which Escriva valued for its intrinsic relation to the family and education of children, Dora's decision to devote herself entirely to this endeavor is seen as a historical moment for Opus Dei.[7][8]

In December 1946, Dora moved to Rome at Escriva's request to take charge of the domestic management of the first Opus Dei center there, a center which would later be Opus Dei's central headquarters.[5]:278 From Rome, her place of residence until her death in 2004, Dora played a central role in the teaching and training of women from all over the world in the tasks that encompass the work of the home.[5]:278 Escriva spoke of this training in a famous interview, when asked about women who devote themselves to housework:

"The main aim of this (training) is to dignify the work of domestic staff in such a way that they can do their work with a scientific approach. I say 'with a scientific approach' because housework should be carried out as a true profession. We must not forget that there are people who have wanted to present this work as something humiliating, but it is not. No doubt, the conditions under which this work used to be done were humiliating and sometimes they still are, even today, when domestic staff are subjected in their work to the whim of an arbitrary employer who does not guarantee their rights, and who gives them low wages and no affection... Any job that is well done is a wonderful service to society, and this is as true of domestic work as it is of the work of a professor or judge. The only work that is not a service is that of a person who works for his own self-interest...I understand that work in the home is especially important because through it so much good or harm can be done to families."[9]

Dora died in Rome on 10 January 2004, after battling illness for several years.[5]:281 Dora's cause of canonization opened 8 years later, on 18 June 2012 in Rome.[4] On March 29, 2014, a conmemorative ceremony took place in Dora's hometown of Boca de Huergano to honor the centennial of her birth.[10]

According to Bishop Javier Echeverria, the Prelate of Opus Dei, “On January 10, 2004, in the homily of her funeral mass, I stated that 'Dora has great importance for Opus Dei.' I was convinced then and with the passing of time becoming even more convinced of the important role that this woman has played and will play in the life of the Church and in society."[11]

Process of Canonization[edit]

On June 18, 2012, Bishop Javier Echevarría presided at the opening of the canonical process on the life and virtues of Dora del Hoyo.[12] Bishop Jose Luis Gutierrez was named the postulator of Dora's Cause of Canonization. According to Bishop Gutierrez, "Presenting this kind of work as a path of holiness recognised by the Church will encourage the many faithful Christians who are enmeshed in the thousand circumstances of ordinary life and it is also a valuable contribution to the good of society."[12]

According to Bishop Javier Echeverria, the Prelate of Opus Dei, “Dora was very important for Opus Dei, because of her faithfulness and her work well done, always with the humble desire to pass unnoticed, to ‘do and disappear.’ She took the Blessed Virgin Mary as her teacher, as Saint Josemaría had encouraged her, and because of this she was effective to the very end of her life. She wanted no glory or recognition, and she gave one hundred percent throughout her entire life."[11]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Medina Bayo, Javier (2014). Dora del Hoyo: A Lighted Lamp. New York: Scepter. 
  2. ^ a b Allen, Jr., John L. (2005). Opus Dei: An Objective Look Behind the Myths and Reality of the Most Controversial Force in the Catholic Church. New York: Doubleday. pp. 181–189. 
  3. ^ Urbano, Pilar (2011). The Man of Villa Tevere. New York: Scepter. pp. 21, 183, 266, 294. 
  4. ^ a b c "Dora del Hoyo's Cause of Canonization Opened in Rome" (VIDEO). YouTube. 23 June 2012. Retrieved 13 July 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Sastre, Ana (April 2011). "De los Picos de Europa a la Ciudad del Tíber. Apuntes para una reseña biográfica de Dora del Hoyo" [From the Picos de Europa (Peaks of Europe) to the City of the Tiber. Notes for a Biographical Sketch of Dora del Hoyo] (PDF). Studia et Documenta. 5. Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  6. ^ Vázquez de Prada, Andrés (2003). The Founder of Opus Dei: The Life of St. Josemaría Escrivá, Vol II: God and Daring. New York: Scepter. pp. 417–418. 
  7. ^ Conversations with Monsignor Escriva de Balaguer. Dublin: Ecclesia Press. 1972. p. 87. 
  8. ^ "Dora holds special importance for Opus Dei". 7 Feb 2012. Retrieved 18 July 2015. 
  9. ^ Salcedo, Pilar (1 February 1968). "Women in social life and in the life of the Church (interview with Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer)". Telva (in Spanish). Madrid. 
  10. ^ Campos, Jose M (30 March 2014). "Un homenaje a Dora" (in Spanish). Diario de León. Retrieved 27 August 2014. 
  11. ^ a b "Discurso del Prelado en la apertura del proceso de Dora del Hoyo (Discourse of the Prelate at the Opening of the Canonical Process on Dora del Hoyo)". Retrieved 20 July 2015. 
  12. ^ a b "Cause of Canonisation Opened for Woman Who Sanctified Ordinary Work". Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese. 18 June 2012. Retrieved 27 August 2014. 

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