On 16 July 1975, Guadalupe Ortiz de Landazuri died in Pamplona, Spain. She was born in 1916 and started to study Chemistry in 1933. One Sunday in 1944, while she attended Mass, she felt “touched by the grace of God”. She got to know St. Josemaría Escrivá, founder of Opus Dei, who taught her that Christ can be found in professional work and ordinary life. She joined Opus Dei a few months later, went to Mexico and Rome to help set up apostolic and educational initiatives and returned to Spain in 1958. She then worked on her PhD in Chemistry. She taught Chemistry in different high schools and institutions to advance professional formation in young professionals. She suffered from heart disease for many years, and died at the age of 58.
And on 18 May 2019, she was beatified in Madrid. Her life is a testimony that everybody, also ordinary lay people, are not only called to sanctity, but can also live up to this call. As Pope Francis wrote on this occasion: “Holiness means opening one’s heart to God and allowing Him to transform us with His love; it also means going out of ourselves so as to meet others where Jesus awaits us, to bring them a word of encouragement, a helping hand, a look of tenderness and consolation.”
Most female scientists have no straightforward career, and need a remarkable commitment to combine relationships, family and work in an integrated way. Guadalupe’s career path was no different: In June 1933, she enrolled in chemical science and was just one of five women in a class of 70 students. During the Spanish Civil War, she had to move from Madrid to Valladolid and upon her return to Madrid, she started teaching Chemistry. While in Mexico, she enrolled in a PhD program but only back in Spain, she could focus on a research project and defend her thesis, and continue teaching.
In addition to the commitment to Science, her courage is another strong characteristic. During the Civil War, her father was taken prisoner and condemned to execution, she accompanied her brother, Eduardo, and their mother to bid a final farewell, just hours before his death. Her brother emphasized that it was Guadalupe who remained strong and calm when talking to her father and provide consolation to her family.
A truly remarkable lady. Blessed Guadalupe Ortiz de Landazuri may help us to find and honor God and serve others in our scientific enterprises!
A detailed biography is here.