Year of Mercy | The Crucifix of Torreciudad and St. Josemaria Escriva
At the Marian Shrine of Our Lady of Torreciudad in Spain, to the left of the main altar, is the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament where one is confronted by the Crucifix of Torreciudad— a gift to the shrine from St. Josemaria Escriva.
Mounted in the center of the marble altarpiece, the approximately 6’ sculpture depicts Jesus Christ alive and serene, a Christ that looks as if he could speak. But he does speak to us there in the quiet and dimness of the chapel. He invites us in our personal prayer to contemplate his suffering which he endured out of love for each one of us. As St. Josemaria wrote in his meditations on the Stations of the Cross (The Way of the Cross):
So much do I love Christ on the Cross that every crucifix is like a loving reproach from my God: ‘… I suffering, and you… a coward. I loving you, and you forgetting me. I begging you, and you… denying me. I, here, with arms wide open as an Eternal Priest, suffering all that can be suffered for love of you… and you complain at the slightest misunderstanding, over the tiniest humiliation… ‘
It is important to note that the crucifix is not made of gold but gilded bronze. Yet the brilliance that mimics gold can serve to remind us of the vessels (chalices, patens, and ciboria) that hold his body and blood for us to consume, to become other Christs, Christ himself.
Blessed Alvaro del Portillo, St. Josemaria’s successor and closest collaborator, described St Josemaria’s devotion to the sacred humanity of Jesus Christ, especially in the Stations of the Cross and depictions of the passion and death of Jesus Christ:
“From the time I first met him, I noticed that not only during his personal prayer, but also whenever he preached a meditation or gave a class, and all the time he spent working at this desk, he kept before him a crucifix—and always the same one… He also advised us always to carry a crucifix with us and to place it in from of us before beginning to study, to read, to work, and so forth, in order to remain in the presence of God and thus transform our work into prayer, uniting it to the sacrifice of the cross.
“In his last years, he commissioned the Roman sculptor Sciancalepore to represent Christ on the cross, but still alive, and as he was just before his death: he wanted his eyes to be open, and looking toward those who were praying at his feet. He ordered two copies of this sculpture, one for a shrine being built at Cavabianca, the seat of the Roman College of the Holy Cross, and the other for a chapel at Torreciudad. I think this gives an insight into St. Josemaria’s spirit: he wanted people to contemplate the crucified Christ in that moment, just before his death, when he looks at each one of us and says, ‘I am suffering all of this for you.’ In other words, he was exhorting us to think about divine justice, to look at the Lord as he says to us sinners, ‘This is for you—my sufferings are for you; if you don’t correct yourself, you will remain separated from God always, in hell’; but at the same time he was encouraging us to consider God’s love, as he looks at us and pleads, All these sufferings are for you—you must help me to redeem; do not offend me anymore’ (Immersed in God, p. 125).”
During the Jubilee Year of Mercy, the Shrine of Torreciudad has been designated as one of the sanctuaries around the world where pilgrims can enter through the Holy Door to receive the graces and indulgences of this Holy Year. To learn more and to support Torreciudad visit www.torreciudad.org.
Visit the St. Josemaria Institute’s online shop for the new prayer cards for the Jubilee Year of Mercy with the Prayer of Abandonment to God’s Providence that features the image of the Crucifix of Torreciudad. The Prayer of Abandonment to God’s Providence is taken from St. Josemaria’s meditations on the Stations of the Cross (The Way of the Cross, 7th Station, no. 3).
The St. Josemaria Institute was founded in 2006 to promote the life, teachings, and devotion to St. Josemaria Escriva among all men and women who desire to find meaning and happiness in their daily lives by growing closer to God. The St. Josemaria Institute produces and distributes digital and print media as a means to spread Christian values around the world and to help people navigate and live well in the digital age.