The Priestly Society of the Holy Cross stems from St. Josemaría’s love for diocesan priests and from the foundational event that took place on October 2, 1928, when our Lord made him “see” Opus Dei. The specific origin of the Priestly Society, however, occurred some years later, in 1943.
The founder soon realized that the newness of the spirit of Opus Dei implied the need for priests who would come from its own laymen, who would dedicate themselves in a special way to the pastoral needs of the people of the Work and their apostolates, without excluding other souls (cf. A. Vázquez de Prada, The Founder of Opus Dei, II, Scepter, 2003, p. 454).
On February 14, 1943, while celebrating Holy
Mass, St. Josemaría received a particular light from God that enabled him to
find the way to ordain these faithful of Opus Dei to the priesthood. A body of
priests coming from its lay members and formed with its spirit was to be
erected within the pastoral reality of the Work, integrated in the institution
and with a fully secular condition, for the pastoral care of its members and
their apostolates. Thus was born the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross, which
the bishop of
St. Josemaría had deep in his heart the
desire to help more effectively his brothers in the diocesan priesthood. He
continued devoting a large part of his time to them, especially after 1939, preaching
many retreats to priests throughout the
Mindful of the needs of his fellow priests, St. Josemaría even considered (in 1948-49) the possibility of leaving Opus Dei, once it was granted final pontifical approval, in order to establish an association for secular priests (cf. Vázquez de Prada, The Founder of Opus Dei, III, Scepter, 2005, pp. 125-129).
In April 1950, God enabled the founder to see that it was possible to include in the Work diocesan priests incardinated in various dioceses. Therefore he petitioned the Holy See to approve their inclusion in the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross. This was granted on June 16 of that year.