Pope blesses statue of St Josemaria Escriva

 Following today's general audience, Benedict XVI blessed a statue of St Josemaria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei, which has recently been placed in a niche on the outside of St Peter's Basilica. The marble statue, some five meters high, is located in a niche on the external wall of the left transept of the basilica, also known as the arm of St Joseph, very near the entrance to the sacristy. The niches in this area of the basilica were allocated by John Paul II for sculptures of saints and of founders of religious orders. The statue of St Josemaria, work of the Italian sculptor Romano Cosci, has been placed alongside other statues of similar dimensions, among them those of St Gregory the Illuminator, apostle of Armenia, of the Carmelite St Teresa of Jesus of the Andes, and of St Marcellin Champagnat, founder of the Marist Brothers. Prior to the arrival of the Holy Father, Bishop Javier Echevarria, prelate of Opus Dei, Cardinal Francesco Marchisano, archpriest of the Vatican Basilica, and Romano Cosci, the sculptor, each made speeches which were interspersed with hymns sung by the "Cappella Giulia" Choir led by Msgr Pablo Colino. Source: VIS