Saxum, a peace project
December 3, 2014
Inspired by Saint Josemaria Escriva and Blessed Alvaro del Portillo, Saxum will help pilgrims to the Holy Land to enter into the life of Christ so that "we can close our eyes and contemplate his life, watching it like a movie".
The Saxum project is a worldwide fundraising effort to build a Conference Center in which spiritual retreats, workshops and conferences will be organized, as well as a Multimedia Resource Center where pilgrims will have access to information for their sojourn in the Holy Land.
The center will offer interactive and multimedia resources that will highlight the Christian heritage and the Jewish roots of the faith. Its aim is to provide people of different religions with a good foundation for visiting and understanding the holy sites.
Construction began in November, 2013, as soon as the minimum necessary financial resources had been secured. It could be completed as early as December 2015.
St Josemaria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei, longed to visit the Holy Land during his lifetime, to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. According to his first successor, Blessed Alvaro del Portillo, “he had a great desire to go [there]; he prayed as though taking part in the Gospel scenes, he took note of the details, but since he had not been there, he recreated the landscape as best he could from what he had studied and from what he read.”
His desire to visit the Holy Land also extended to all his spiritual children in Opus Dei and their families and friends, who he wished could have the opportunity in their lifetimes “to pray on, kneel on and kiss the soil which Jesus trod upon.”
In 1994, Blessed Alvaro del Portillo made a special pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He undertook the pilgrimage in thanksgiving for his 80th birthday and the 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination. However, the pilgrimage resulted in a bittersweet memory. Bishop del Portillo celebrated his last Holy Mass in the Church of the Cenacle in Jerusalem and died the following day in Rome.
That same year, in memory of Blessed Alvaro del Portillo, the Prelature of Opus Dei, together with cooperators and friends, initiated the project to establish the Saxum Conference Center and Saxum Multimedia Resource Center in the Holy Land. The name Saxum, which means ‘rock’ in Latin, pays homage to the nickname given to Blessed Alvaro del Portillo by St Josemaria for his great fidelity to and fortitude in his work, his vocation, and service to the Church.
In 1995, the Association for Cultural Interchange Inc. undertook the search for a site to develop the Saxum project.
Currently, Palestinians, Jews, Christians and others are all working together on the building of Saxum.