born Jan. 9, 1902, Barbastro, Spain died June 26, 1975, Rome, Italy in full Josemara Escriv De Balaguer Y Albs Spanish prelate of the Roman Catholic church, founder in 1928 of Opus Dei (q.v.), a Catholic organization of laymen and priests claiming to strive to live Christian lives in their chosen professions. By the time of Escriv's death in 1975, its members numbered some 60,000 in 80 countries, and its critics charged it with wielding undue economic and political power, especially in Spain during the rule of Francisco Franco. The son of an Aragonese businessman, Escriv studied law at the University of Saragossa and attended the archdiocesan seminary there, becoming ordained on March 28, 1925. Except for a period during the Civil War when he hid out and then was a refugee from the anticlerical Republicans, he did pastoral work in Madrid until 1946, when he moved permanently to Rome. The following year he was promoted to the rank of monsignor, and from 1947 to 1950 he secured formal Vatican approval of Opus Dei. From Rome, Escriv oversaw the gradual establishment of vocational, trade, and agricultural centres, numerous high schools and schools of business administration, and the founding of the University of Navarre, which many considered the finest university in Spain. Though Opus Dei made a point of imposing no political ideology on any of its members, Opus Deistas were named to high government positions in Spain when Franco sought out highly trained technicians to implement a program of economic development begun in 1956. Pope John Paul II beatified Escriv in 1992, overlooking criticism both of the latter's character and of the organization he had founded.

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